Journey Through the Hymns: Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy (Part Two)

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;

Have you noticed a trend in these great hymns of the faith? Such as that most of them begin with a declaration of man’s radical depravity?

Look at the way the first verse of this hymn portrays humanity: poor, needy, wounded, weak, sick, sore, and in need of saving. Pretty apt and biblical description, isn’t it? I’ve delved into total depravity while we studied previous hymns, so I won’t take two or three posts to discuss it this time. But it’s worth noting that many of the hymns that have survived the changing of centuries and the collapse and rise of cultures are those that first make a straightforward statement of how badly man needs a Savior, and then follow that with a clear presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r

I want to spend most of our time on today on this last half of the verse, because there’s something here that I think many of us may forget from time to time.

How often do we think of salvation? Probably very often. If you are a Christian, you are saved; salvation and its results are intricately woven into each part of your life.

How often do we think of God’s mercy and grace in salvation? Once again, probably quite often. The great Puritan writer John Flavel said, “They that know God will be humble. They that know themselves cannot be proud.” If we are convinced of the depravity of man, if we even make an honest examination of ourselves, we will undoubtedly see that our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick, evil beyond our own comprehension (Jeremiah 17:9). And if we see ourselves and our sin in light of the holiness and justice and righteousness of God, we have no choice but to admit that we have nothing to bring to the table, and that only God’s benevolence could move Him to redeem us. We’re not Ruth, whom Boaz took notice of because of her kindness; we’re Gomer. (Ruth 1-3, Hosea 1:2-5).

But how often do we think of God’s love in salvation? As Pastor John MacArthur has said, “Love is the best known but least understood of all God’s attributes.”[1]

I think we sometimes lose track of both the love of God for His elect and the willingness with which He saves them. God doesn’t hate redeeming His people. It’s not a chore for Him. It’s not as if the Lord just made a promise in eternity past and now He grudgingly keeps it because He has to or else ruin His reputation. Not at all! God cannot contradict His own nature, and while He is just and wrathful He is also gracious and loving. And because Christ through His death on Calvary satisfied that perfect justice of God and drained the cup of wrath, the elect have no more wrath or judgement to fear.

God desired to reveal all of His attributes through His plan of redemption. That’s why we can sing with John Newton when he writes

Let us wonder! Grace and justice

Join and point to mercy’s store

When thru grace in Christ our trust is

Justice smiles and asks no more

God’s perfect, eternal justice was satisfied so that His perfect, eternal love could be put on display. In Ephesians chapter two we read

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:4-9

The magnificent love of God should make us shout for joy when we remember all His mercies toward us. If we are truly His children, adopted through the blood of Christ, we should love this Savior with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and grieve because we know we are unable to on this side of glory.

Jesus Christ is our Elder Brother, our substitute; He loved us, therefore He saved us. And why did He choose to love us? For His own glory! He brought us up out of the pit and lavished His grace upon us so that for all eternity His redeemed would be a display of His mercy and justice and grace and love. When we understand these things (at least as much as our finite minds are able), and realize to some small extent how deep the love of Jesus is for His own, how can we not sing,

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms

SDG <><


Photo by Rachel Claire on

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