Posted by: rcottrill | April 11, 2011

Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness

Words: Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (b. May 26, 1700; d. May 9, 1760)
Music: Germany, by William Gardiner (b. Mar. 15, 1770; d. Nov. 16, 1853)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This great hymn was translated into English (somewhat paraphrased) by John Wesley, and published in 1740, entitled “The Believer’s Triumph.” The original had 24 stanzas, of which the Cyber Hymnal gives us 9. Many hymnals today reduce this further to 4 or 5. As posted in the Cyber Hymnal, CH-1, 2, 4 and 5 are often used–though it should be said that hymn book editors do occasionally choose other stanzas from the original too. This is another hymn that I believe all Christians should sing often and understand clearly.

The hymn presents a powerful visualization of the doctrine of justification (Rom. 3:21-24; 5:8-11). Constructing a definition from the word itself, some have suggested justification means as “just-as-if-I’d-never sinned.” But that is only part of it. There is a kind of legal transfer that goes in two directions. In justification, Christ is charged with our sins (a debt He paid on the cross), and His perfect righteousness is credited to our heavenly account (cf. II Cor. 5:21).

When a sinner trusts in the Calvary work of Christ as his only means of salvation, it is as though he has been clothed in Christ. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ [placed into Christ by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit] have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27; cf. Isa. 61:10). When God looks at redeemed sinners, He sees the perfections of His beloved Son. They have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14). As to their standing, they are forever perfect and complete in Christ (Col. 2:10; Heb. 10:14), and accepted by the Father “in the Beloved [Christ]” (Eph. 1:6).

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

In CH-2 Count von Zinzendorf speaks of having boldness before God, “for who ought to my charge shall lay?” (an allusion to Romans 8:33). In CH-4, the note of personal testimony is strengthened with, “Lord, I believe…” This is repeated in CH-5 with some dramatic imagery which calls to mind First John 2:2, “He Himself is the propitiation [the full satisfaction of God’s justice] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.

Since we are deprived of so many stanzas of this hymn, in many hymnals, I wanted to share a few of the ones that are not so commonly used. As to CH-3, it is Peter who refers to the “unspotted Lamb” (I Pet. 1:18-19). And related to CH-6, the Lord Jesus speaks of going to prepare “my mansion in the skies” (Jn. 14:2-3), and in (CH-9) He refers to the coming resurrection as a time when “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live” (Jn. 5:25).

CH-3) The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.

CH-6) When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
E’en then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.

CH 9) O let the dead now hear Thy voice;
Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness.

Questions:
1) With what kinds of things do many people “clothe” themselves, in the mistaken belief that such things will make them acceptable to God?

2) How should the doctrine of justification affect our prayer life?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


Responses

  1. Hi, Robert,

    Do you have a web link or other source for all of the original verses (either the 33 that Count Zinzendorf wrote or the 24 that Wesley translated)? As you noted, Cyber Hymnal gives only 9 of the 24 that Wesley translated.

    Thanks,

    Robert

    • Sure, here you go. I don’t have Count Zinzendorf’s original 33 in German, but here are all of Wesley’s 24–which he entitled “The Believer’s Triumph.” We normally use his stanzas 1, 2, 7, 8 (and occasionally 12 and 24). The poem appeared in Wesley’s book Hymns and Sacred Poems, published in 1740. That book has been reproduced here.

      THE BELIEVER’S TRIUMPH

      1 JESU, Thy blood and righteousness
      My beauty are, my glorious dress:
      ’Midst flaming worlds, in these array’d,
      With joy shall I lift up my head.

      2 Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
      For who aught to my charge shall lay?
      Fully through these absolved I am
      From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

      3 The deadly writing now I see
      Nail’d with Thy body to the tree:
      Torn with the nails that pierced Thy hands,
      The old covenant no longer stands.

      4 Though, sign’d and written with my blood,
      As hell’s foundations sure it stood,
      Thine hath wash’d out the crimson stains,
      And white as snow my soul remains.

      5 Satan, thy due reward survey;
      The Lord of Life why didst thou slay?
      To tear the prey out of thy teeth;
      To spoil the realms of hell and death.

      6 The holy, the unspotted Lamb,
      Who from the Father’s bosom came,
      Who died, for me, even me, to atone,
      Now for my Lord and God I own.

      7 Lord, I believe the precious blood
      Which at the mercy-seat of God
      For ever doth for sinners plead,
      For me, even for my soul, was shed.

      8 Lord, I believe, were sinners more
      Than sands upon the ocean-shore,
      For all Thou hast the ransom given,
      Purchased for all peace, life, and heaven.

      9 Lord, I believe the price is paid,
      For every soul the atonement made;
      And every soul Thy grace may prove,
      Loved with an everlasting love.

      10 Carnal, and sold to sin, no more
      I am; hell’s tyranny is o’er:
      The immortal seed remains within,
      And, born of God, I cannot sin.

      11 Yet nought whereof to boast I have;
      All, all Thy mercy freely gave;
      No works, no righteousness are mine;
      All is Thy work, and only Thine.

      12 When from the dust of death I rise
      To claim my mansion in the skies,
      Even then, this shall be all my plea,
      “Jesus hath lived, hath died for me.”

      13 Thus Abraham, the friend of God,
      Thus all heaven’s armies bought with blood,
      Saviour of sinners Thee proclaim;
      Sinners, of whom the chief I am.

      14 Naked from Satan did I flee,
      To Thee, my Lord, and put on Thee:
      And thus adorn’d, I wait the word,
      “He comes: arise, and meet thy Lord.”

      15 This spotless robe the same appears
      When ruin’d nature sinks in years:
      No age can change its constant hue;
      Thy blood preserves it ever new.

      16 When Thou shalt call in that great day
      For my account, thus will I say:
      “Thanks to my gracious Lord, if aught
      Of good I did, glad I it wrought.

      17 “And while I felt Thy blood within
      Cleansing my soul from every sin,
      Purging each fierce and foul desire;
      I joy’d in the refining fire.

      18 “If pride, desire, wrath stirr’d anew,
      Swift to my sure resort I flew:
      See there my Lord upon the tree!
      Hell heard: instant my soul was free.”

      19 Then shall heaven’s hosts with loud acclaim
      Give praise and glory to the Lamb,
      Who bore our sins, and by His blood
      Hath made us kings and priests to God.

      20 O ye, who joy to feed His sheep,
      Ever in your remembrance keep,
      Empty they are, and void of God,
      Till brought to the atoning blood.

      21 Jesu, be endless praise to Thee,
      Whose boundless mercy hath for me,
      For me, and all Thy hands have made,
      An everlasting ransom paid.

      22 Ah, give me now, all-gracious Lord,
      With power to speak Thy quickening word;
      That all who to Thy wounds will flee
      May find eternal life in Thee.

      23 Thou God of power, Thou God of love,
      Let the whole world Thy mercy prove:
      Now let Thy word o’er all prevail;
      Now take the spoils of death and hell.

      24 O, let the dead now hear Thy voice;
      Now bid Thy banish’d ones rejoice;
      Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
      Jesu, Thy blood and righteousness!

  2. Thanks very much!


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