Posted by: rcottrill | February 25, 2011

No Other Plea

Words: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (b. June 28, 18561; d. Apr. 24, 1920)
Music: Landås, by André Ernest Modeste Grétry (b. Feb. 8, 1741; d. Sept. 24, 1814)
Adapted by William James Kirkpatrick (b. Feb. 27, 1838; d. Sept. 20, 1921)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Some older hymn books list the author of this hymn as Lidie H. Edmunds. Only later was it determined this was a pen name of Eliza Hewitt’s.  The hymn tune Landås was arranged by gospel musician William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921), composer of dozens of tunes for the words of Fanny Crosby and many others. André Grétry was mainly a composer of French operas.

As we go through our day, we put a measure of trust in many things. When we flip on a light switch, we expect light. When we sit down in a chair to rest, we expect the chair to hold us up. But I can recall a time when this piece of furniture let me down–in church!

I was a small boy at the time, seated next to my father on a wooden folding chair. Apparently during the service, I fell asleep, and leaned the wrong way. The chair skidded from under me, and collapsed with a startling crash! But my embarrassment at suddenly being the focus of attention for the whole congregation was only the beginning. Somebody there (I never found out who), spread the word. The next day, at school, I became the subject of taunts in the playground for being the boy who fell asleep in church.

My point in this little tale is that sometimes the thing we rest our hopes on lets us down. The stock market can fail us, our football team can lose, or the car won’t start when we expect it to. More seriously, our spouse might prove unfaithful to us. Our sense of security and well-being in life can be shattered in a moment by such experiences.

We need someone or something we can count on to be dependable and trustworthy. In our spiritual lives, that something is the inspired Word of God, and that someone is the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the subject of this gospel song by Eliza Hewitt. And she makes an interesting distinction between creeds and Christ. It may seem a subtle difference, but it’s an important one.

The church has many great creeds–the Apostles’ Creed, for example. (Church traditions notwithstanding, it is not called that because the apostles wrote it. Rather, it is likely a distillation, compiled later, of important doctrines they taught.)

Creeds can be helpful as a teaching tool. But our faith is not, first of all, in the creed, but in the Christ of the creed. Compare love letters sent between a fellow and a girl. While each may treasure the correspondence of the other, it is the personal relationship with that person that is of surpassing importance.

Eliza Hewitt makes that point, as she begins (CH-1):

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Our faith is in a Person. But it is also true that our faith is in the Scriptures who reveal Him. Since didn’t walk and talk with the Lord Jesus, as the apostles did, we have to rely on their accounts, preserved from error by the Holy Spirit, to introduce Christ to us, and make Him known.

That is what Paul means when he says that the household of God (the church) is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20). We trust in the message God revealed to them. But ultimately, “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (I Cor. 3:11).

Eliza Hewitt brings the two together in her hymn (CH-3). In distinction from man-made creeds, “the word of God is living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12), and “the word of the Lord endures forever” (I Pet. 1:25). To lean on the Word about Christ is the necessary prelude to leaning on the Christ of the Word, since that is where He is revealed (Lk. 24:27; Jn. 5:39).

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Saviour’s name,
Salvation through His blood.

1) The writer of Hebrews compares the “rest” of the Christian to God resting on the seventh day, after the work of creation (Heb. 3:10). What does the writer means in saying the believer has “ceased from his works” (cf. Rom. 4:5)?

2) If, in the words of the hymn writer, “It is enough that Jesus…died for me,” how will that affect our attitudes and our conduct?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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