JUST AS I AM – THE JOY OF COMING TO JESUS
Great Hymns of the Faith
Pastor Bob Millsaps
May 21, 2017
Revelation 22:17, Isaiah 55:1-3
Psalm 105:2 “Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders.”
One of the beautiful things about Christianity is the music that it produces. I love songs about Jesus. I love worship. I love music. Today we are blessed with a wide variety of Christian music, which I think is powerful and anointed, and that music has deep roots. We know that it is the spirit of God that inspires those who write songs. Songs have a meaning for the people of the day in which it was written. Bill Olson used to say that the songs of the revival were heard throughout the land. God has been inspiring people for many years to write worship songs.
Let me tell you a little bit of the background of the song. Charlotte Elliott, who wrote that song, was an invalid living in England. One day Dr. Malan, a house guest from Geneva, broached the subject of personal salvation and dared to ask Miss Elliott whether she ever had come to the Lord Jesus Christ and accepted Him as her personal Savior. The young woman resented the question and quickly changed the subject. But it set her to thinking. Later she said to Dr. Malan, “You spoke of coming to Jesus, but how? I am not fit to come.”
He replied, “Come just as you are.” She did so; She came to him laden down with a lot of stuff, and of course Jesus became real, and many years later, reflect upon all her experience, in her room, she wrote the lines of this hymn. It was when she felt as an invalid that she had nothing to offer to God that she remembered the words of Dr Malan. So she said I am coming to you just as I am.
Most of you know that this hymn has been used in giant crusades. Probably most popularized by the crusades of Billy Graham. The beauty of this hymn and the sentiment that it brings does not begin however in the heart of Charlotte Elliot.
The beauty of the thoughts in this old song begin in the heart of God. Because this hymn is written as a response. It is written in response to the great invitation giver.
It is a wonderful thing to receive an invitation. Probably this time of year, you received an invitation to a graduation, or maybe a wedding, or a social event of some kind. It is even wonderful to receive an invitation to enjoy a cup of coffee. However, the greatest invitation is from God.
I want to read to you God’s invitation. It is in the final chapter of the bible. In fact I want to give you verses that show that the entire trinity is saying come!
Revelation 22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
Every other week in Celebrate Recovery we hear a testimony. When I hear the people say how they turned to Jesus, found hope, found life, found forgiveness, found freedom. My eyes water.
And then Jesus said come. He said, “Come unto me, all you that are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” John 6:37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”
And the Father says come:
Isaiah 55:1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.”
The beauty of this song is that it is in response to the eternal call of God to mankind. Even though things are broken and messed up…he says come. In the garden after the fall…he was saying Adam Eve where are you…will you come?
A few months ago I was listening to some videos on you tube and I came across one of the men who had been active in the Billy Graham crusades. As you know this was the invitational hymn that was sung for many years in Billy Graham’s meetings. He would give the invitation for people to accept Christ. He would then step back from the pulpit bow his head, and the choir would begin to sing. “Just as I am without one plea.”
During those days the press was making fun of Billy Graham. They said the only reason why people would come forward in his meetings was because of the emotional hymn that was sung. The press was saying that it means nothing. That people coming to accept Christ was nothing more than a response to an emotional hymn.
Interestingly enough Billy Graham made a decision in one of his crusades, to not sing the hymn. To simply have silence. And so the thousands had gathered in the stadium as was the custom in those days. Billy Graham preached the gospel, gave the invitation. The choir remained seated. All was silent in the great stadium that night. I am sure the press was there thinking no one would come. But suddenly, there came the sound of movement as hundreds and hundreds came forward that night to receive Christ.
What I am saying is that it is not just an emotional song that causes a person to come to God. No. It is the wooing of the Spirit. It is the moving of God upon your heart. It is the supernatural thing that God does when he stirs faith.
And so, with all of that in mind…let me share with you five quick thoughts relating to the five verses of “Just as I am”
As we Come to Him..We come in the following five ways
- VERSE 1 – I COME WITH ONE PLEA
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
We don’t use the word plea very much. In its simplest use it means… request made in an urgent and emotional manner.
This song presupposes that you understand that you need God. It presupposes that God is your only source of help. It presupposes that you understand your humble state before a holy God.
It presupposes that you realize the sin that clings to the heart of man. And so the author says to God, “I am coming to you God. But the only way I can come into your presence. The only way I dare to come before your throne. The only way I have any hope that you will hear me at all. The only way I will find help and grace in my time of need. The only way I can find salvation is because You God have bid me to come to you on the basis of your shed blood.”
It is an error to think that we can approach God without the shed blood of Jesus.
A lot of people begin their prayer out with a different type of plea. They say:
You know how good I have been.
You know how hard l I have tried.
You know I am righteous.
You know that I serve you .
You know that I gave my tithes
You know that I need you.
You know that my mother served you and my dad served you.
I am sorry but none of those pleas are sufficient to grant you access to God. The only way we can ever to God is because of the blood of Jesus. I am grateful for the cross!
The writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 10:19 “ Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,”
You won’t come before President Trump in the oval office without an invitation. Those earthly presidents and kings are nothing compared to the king of kings. The good news is this:
God has already given the invitation. He has said come.
And the only way we can come before Him is if we have trusted in the precious shed blood of Jesus Christ to take away our sins. That my friend is the good news of the gospel.
Romans 5:8-10 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Too many people believe the lie that says…when I get everything in order.
When I stop drinking
When I stop using
When I stop cussing
When my marriage problems are over.
Then I can come.
I got news for you.
Even stopping your bad habits won’t even get you in. You can’t get good enough to come before God on your own. You need Jesus sacrifice. When you trust in what he did for you…you receive by faith his gift.
It’s an exchange. You put your faith in him and he imputes to you his righteousness.
That is how we enter. We have but one plea. It is through the blood.
And then as we come to God
- VERSE 2 – I COME FOR COMPLETE PURIFICATION
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
There is not a sin that God cannot forgive. Most people accept that. But there is a deeper question for us to consider. This song doesn’t simply say…To forgive my soul of one dark blot. It says to rid my soul of one dark blot.
I wonder today is there anyone who ever had something in their life and they know before God…it is a dark blot. It is a stain and they wanted to get rid of it. Not just to be forgiven. Not just to have an emotional moment where they are feel a release of the guilt. No, they want to be free of it.
The author of this song…wrote this in a biblical way. Where the person is saying, “I want to get rid of it.”
It’s like a cancer to my soul. It’s like a disease. It’s like a curse. My heart wants to be free from whatever that dark blot is. And I have good news. If you are ready for change. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. If you are willing to do your part…which is repent. God is willing to do his part which is he will set you free.
“For whom the son sets free is free indeed.”
Two things are happening in our society today simultaneously. In our society, first of all there are many in the culture at large and some in the church who have lost the ability to feel ashamed of that dark blot.
The song no longer means anything to them. Frankly, they don’t care if the stain on their soul is there. In fact, they are the first one to tell you…it’s my choice. I don’t care what you think of me. I am going to live the way I want to live. I do what I want to do period.
To that I respond with a tender warning. Be careful my friend. Because the word says…there is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof is the way of death.
Have you ever been out to lunch and eating BBQ and the sauce just drips off your hand, and it gets all over your shirt. That’s embarrassing. You don’t put that shirt on the next day. You want to get rid of it.
You would be embarrassed to wear it to work. But people today have lost the sense of embarrassment about the stain on their soul.
The second thing that is happening is in the church world. Many people think God doesn’t care if I ever change. I am ok with God and I can live my life out and I will continue to live and continue to violate his Word. The first four words of the song are beautiful.
Just as I am.
However, If that is all there was to the song it would teach a false doctrine.
Just as I am alone says
I don’t have to repent
I don’t have to change
I don’t have to consider my ways.
I can continue to sin that grace will abound.
This stands against the teaching of the bible. Consider these important questions:
Does God accept me…just as I am? Yes.
Does God love me just as I am? Yes
Does he invite me to come just as I am? Yes
God loves you just the way you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay that way!
But does God want me to stay the way I am? No
Does God have the power to change our lives? Yes
Do we continue to sin that grace may abound? GOD FORBID! God’s heart is for you to be rid of stain.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you have a dark blot today…don’t let it stop you from coming. He will help you get rid of it. In fact let it be your motivation for coming.
And then as we come to Jesus
- VERSE 3 – I COME WITH MANY PROBLEMS
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
If that describe life in modern America I don’t know what does. Some would say that this verse only refers to those who don’t know Christ because If you know Christ, you live in a world where you don’t ever struggle. Your problems are over, the minute you accept Jesus.
I wish that were true! Is there anybody who has ever lived a problem free life since you came to Christ.
No one. Jesus said that in this world you will have tribulation. James said, don’t think it strange when you have all kinds of trials and tribulations.
I have good news for you.
God is bigger than your doubts
God is bigger than your fears
God is bigger than the inner struggle
Listen Even Paul had problems. 2 Corinthians 7:5 KJV “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.”
Paul was the first one to sing that song, Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen, nobody knows but Jesus.
And so, someone who doesn’t understand Christianity might think, well what Good does it do to have a relationship with God, if you still have troubles? If you still have trials? If you still have some internal turmoil about situations? If at time there are fears that the enemy tries to plant in us?
Let me tell you what good it does:
We have somewhere to go
We have someone to listen to
We have a book to read with the answers.
We serve a God who hears and answers prayer.
We serve a God who gives us wisdom
We serve a God who can give peace that passes understanding.
We may not understand it all.
We may look at that and say, Why? Why? Why?
But we also have this promise. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
So, if I face a difficulty by the time I get through it – My faith is stronger! If I need wisdom…and I wind up seeking God -the end result is not only do I get wisdom but I am closer than I’ve ever been. And even when someone intends something for evil. God can turn that thing around for good.
And at the end of the day…if all I have ever done is climb one mountain of trouble after another. I can look back across my journey. And say with another great songwriter. Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already. His grace has brought me safe thus far, and his grace is going to lead me home.
- VERSE 4 – I COME FOR GREAT PROVISION
As the songwriter begins this verse she names three spiritual conditions. She knows who she is.
She is poor in spirit, wretched, and blind.
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
The author of the song lifted those first three words right out of Jesus letter in Revelation to Laodicea.
Revelation 3:17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”
Obviously, the church at Laodicea was a lukewarm church. They didn’t even recognize their spiritual condition. Those in Laodicea thought. They thought I am blessed. I have all I need. I have money. I am rich.
But Jesus comes back. And he says…you are blind (talking about spiritual blindness) In other words they don’t recognize their spiritual condition. You are wretched (in other words you life is filled with stuff that shouldn’t be there) In other words you don’t see who you are. The worst tragedy in the world is to stay in blindness about your spiritual needs.
But this song is not intended to make us feel bad about our spiritual condition as we come to Christ. It is a song that is meant to encourage us to see the provision God has! When you have spiritual need
Jesus brings his provision.
Sight, Riches Healing of the mind.
Oh, my friend the greatest blessing in the world is when you realize your need of Christ! When we can also say, Iwas blind, but now I see.
I want you to understand that the provision that this song is referring to is not the riches that come from this world. I am grateful in other places the word promises us:
My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus
We can come for that type of temporal provision. But the provision he is talking about here are true riches!
When your mind gets healed…and you can lay down in peace…that’s true riches.
When your conscience doesn’t bother you anymore…that is true riches.
When your spirit man is strong enough…you just walk away from temptation.
When your emotions are under control even though the world around you is out of control.
When you have joy even though everything isn’t going your way…that is true riches.
Yea all I need in thee I find.
What is it that you need? If you need peace, He is peace! If you need joy, His name is joy. If you need hope…God answers prayer.
2 Peter 1:2-3 “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,”
- VERSE 5 – I COME BECAUSE OF GREAT PROMISES
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Will you have the courage to come to Jesus and says, I am going to believe the promises of God today.
What are you believing for?