Posted by: rcottrill | September 12, 2011

Just As I Am

Words: Charlotte Elliott (b. Mar. 18, 1789; d. Sept. 22, 1871)
Music: Woodworth, by William Batchelder Bradbury (b. Oct. 6, 1816; d. Jan. 7, 1868)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Historian John Julian says this hymn “ranks with the finest hymns in the English language.” The original had seven stanzas (the seventh being added by the author in a later edition). Many hymn books today use only CH-1 to 5.

Just as we are. What does that mean? Of course it doesn’t, for a moment, minimize the seriousness of sin and carnality, and other bad things. It’s not a way of saying, “Leave me alone! I’m satisfied with the way I am.” Rather, the author is saying that it’s impossible for us to make ourselves acceptable to God, or worthy of His perfect heaven. The up-and-outer is just as much in need of God’s salvation as the down-an-outer, and that is only by His grace, not by any human effort (Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5).

“As many as received Him [Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born…
Not of blood [it’s not a matter of what family you belong to],
Nor of the will of the flesh [not by any kind of human effort],
Nor of the will of man [that is, man in authority–for example, not by the rituals and pronouncements of a church]
But of God [born of God, the new birth, accomplished by the Holy Spirit]” (Jn. 1:12-13; cf. 3:3).

Though condemned, the sinner can come to God, appealing to His grace with confidence, for a couple of reasons (CH-1). First of all, the Lord invites him to come in faith (J. 7:37; Rev. 22:17). Second, the blood of Christ was shed on the cross to pay the penalty for all his sin (Eph. 1:7; I Jn. 2:2). It is the only remedy. Attempting to “rid [his own] soul of one dark blot” (CH-2) is doomed to failure. Our best attempts at self righteousness are like “filthy rags” in God’s sight (Isa. 64:6).

We must come to God, casting ourselves upon His grace, even though “tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt” (CH-3). “Fightings and fears within, without”–what a description of the troubled heart! We come, recognizing our own need, and our own impotence to deal with it. We are spiritually “poor, wretched, blind” (CH-4), but in Christ there is “sight, riches, healing of the mind.” All that we need is found in Him.

For decades, this wonderful hymn was used in Billy Graham’s evangelistic meetings, when an invitation was given to trust Christ as Saviour. Billy himself had come to Christ in 1937, during the singing of this hymn. And as a further irony, it had been the song sung when eighteen-year-old Bev Shea made a public commitment to Christ during evangelistic meetings in his father’s church in Ottawa. Long afterward, when Billy heard Bev singing on the radio, he invited him to join a ministry team he was putting together. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31; cf. Jn. 3:16). And as we trust in God’s promise, we can be assured He will “welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve” (CH-5). The Lord Jesus says, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (Jn. 6:37), employing the strongest of Greek negatives, signifying, not under any conditions, not under any circumstances. If you have never done so before, may you be able to say with the hymn writer:

CH-6) Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

We are saved by the loving provision of God, in Christ. We are infused with that love, by His Spirit (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22). And we continue to experience, and gain more insight into the love of God, in all its dimensions (Eph. 3:14-19). Nor will it end at death. It’s “here for a season, then above” (CH-7).

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

1) “Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29), or just “the Lamb,” is one of the many titles of Christ. (It’s found more than two dozen times in the book of Revelation–cf. Rev. 5:12-13.) What does this hymn indicate by its repeated use of the title?

2) How can we “know the love of Christ which passes [surpasses] knowledge” (Eph. 3:19)? (That is, if it’s beyond knowledge, how can we know it?)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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