Posted by: rcottrill | December 25, 2013

Complete in Thee

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Words: Aaron Robarts Wolfe (b. Sept. 6, 1821; d. Oct. 6, 1902)
Music: Hesperus (or Quebec), by Henry Baker (b. June 6, 1835; d. Feb. 1, 1910)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The Cyber Hymnal suggests three fine tunes for this hymn. Hesperus is also used with Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts. The tune Duke Street is commonly used with Jesus Shall Reign, and Hamburg is used with When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Also check out the Cyber Hymnal note on Aaron Wolfe for a life-changing incident in his life.

Seventy years after the hymn text was written, James M. Gray, added a refrain that is rich in doctrinal detail. Dr. Gray was president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, at the time. A music teacher in the school, Talmadge J. Bittikofer, wrote a tune that included the refrain. The song in this format was published in the excellent Worship and Service Hymnal (1957).

I have included a discussion of James Gray’s refrain in this article, though it does not appear in the Cyber Hymnal. Bittikofer’s tune, however, does appear in the Cyber Hymnal with another hymn, called We Worship Thee.

This hymn was inspired by Colossians 2:9-10, which says:

“In Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”

“In Him,” or “in Christ” is Paul’s familiar way of describing positional truth. That is, when we are saved, we are placed into Christ, in a legal or positional sense. When God looks at us, He sees His dear Son, because we have been, in effect, clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).

The balancing truth, which we won’t go into here, is our condition in daily experience. While our position is constant, depending as it does on a work of God and the Person of Christ, our experience is different. We are only able to grow spiritually and consistently live to please God as we walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25).

It would be impossible, in a short article, to treat all of the texts that use the phrases “in Christ,” or “in Him,” in the way described, but here are a few of them.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). “Of Him [God the Father] you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (I Cor. 1:30).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new…. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:17, 21).

“Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ….In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:3, 7).

“We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Rom. 12:5). “To those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints [or simply “called saints”–God’s set-apart ones]” (I Cor. 1:2). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

What a wealth of blessings! All ours because of our position in Christ. We are justified (pronounced righteous by a holy God) because of Christ’s righteousness being credited to us. We are sanctified positionally, set apart for God forever. Further, we are united to the body of Christ and become one with other believers, in Christ. And what is begun in Christ for us as individuals is guaranteed to be brought to completion in future glory (Rom. 8:29-30; Phil. 1:6).

CH-1) Complete in Thee! No work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I too shall be!

CH-4) Dear Saviour, when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand, complete in Thee.

1) What to you is the greatest blessing of being viewed by God as “in Christ”?

2) Do you believe this is a truth that needs greater emphasis in our churches?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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