Just as I am, without one Plea

Oh Lamb of God I come

Words Charlotte Elliott – 1789-1871;
Music William Batchelder Bradbury –

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Many times we often feel that if only we were in different circumstances or had some special talent, we could be a better witness for God and serve Him more effectively than we currently are. We wish for special abilities so we can serve God better. Today’s hymn has a message to remind us that the way we are is the best way to serve God. Yes, just as you are if you come to Him, God will make the difference.

The hymn Just as I am was written by a bed-ridden disabled woman who felt useless to do anything except express her feelings of devotion to God. Yet Charlotte Elliott’s simply worded text has influenced more people for Christ than any hymn ever written or perhaps any sermon ever preached. Without question, Charlotte’s hymn has touched more hearts and influenced more people for Christ than any other song ever written. The text of this hymn was born within the soul of her disability and she wrote these words out of intense feelings of uselessness and despair. All things work for good to those that love the Lord. If you are the right material that qualifies to be called THAT LOVE THE LORD, then it does not matter the circumstances, something good out of it will come out.

The story behind this hymn is an interesting one.  Charlotte Elliott struggled most of her life with sin and how to be forgiven from sin.  She would talk to religious leaders and pastors, and many would counsel her to pray more, study the Bible more, do more noble deeds, and resolve to “do better.”  (Come to think of it, that is what my mother has told me for the last 45 years of my life).  This advice, however, did not resolve the struggle with sin in her life.  She also struggled with health issues.  Her physical disability had hardened her heart to the point where she was quoted as saying “If God loved me, He would not have treated me this way.”

Charlotte Elliott was born in Clapham, England, on March 18, 1789. As a young person she lived a carefree life, gaining popularity as a portrait artist and poet. By the time she was thirty, however, her health began to fail rapidly, and soon she became a bedridden and disability came in for the remaining years of her life. With her failing health came great feelings of despondency.

One evening, a Swiss minister, Dr. Cesar Malan, came and visited Ms. Elliott and her family.  During the visit, Ms. Elliott lost her temper, and so embarrassed her family to the point that they left the room and left her alone with Dr. Malan.  Dr. Malan asked her some poignant questions about the hate and anger she had in her heart.  He told her that she had become sour, bitter, and resentful.   Ms. Elliott asked him what his “cure” was for this kind of bitterness.  He told her the cure was the faith that she was trying so hard to despise.  After a long conversation, she finally reached her wit’s end, and asked him “If I wanted to become a Christian…what would I do?”  Dr. Malan wisely responded, “You would give yourself to God just as you are now, with your fightings and fears, hates and loves, pride and shame.”  She responded “I would come to God just as I am?  Is that right?”   Her conversion was a powerful one, and from this encounter with Dr. Malan and with Christ, she was inspired to write the words of this song.  She lived to be 82 years old and eventually wrote over 150 hymns.

For Charlotte, Mahan’s witness was a turning point for from that moment she never forgot the words of her friend, for they form the very essence of this hymn. She could not get his suggestion out of her head. Three weeks later, she met Malan again and told him that ever since he had spoken to her, she had been trying to find Jesus her Saviour. How she could come to Him, she wondered. “You have nothing of merit to bring to God. You must come just as you are,” replied the minister. Rejoicing, Charlotte did. Immediately placing her complete trust in Christ’s redemptive sacrifice for her, Charlotte experienced inner peace and joy in spite of her physical affliction at her death at the age of 82.

In 1835, about twelve years after her conversion, her brother was raising funds for a school for the daughters of clergymen–St. Mary’s Hall. Unable to help with the project, Charlotte felt useless. Perhaps God had even rejected her!

She fell into deep doubt. As she pondered her situation, she remembered the words of Cesar Malan and decided to write a song for others who were in her situation. The words she wrote became one of the greatest soul-winning songs in the history of hymns.

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou biddest me come to Thee
O, Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Many stories are told of people whose lives were transformed by her verses. I remember my own salvation was after singing this hymn. That just as I am without anything good to bring before God, I come to you for grace.

What is more, in her own lifetime Charlotte learned that copies of the poem were being sold and the money donated for St. Mary’s Hall, the very project she had thought she could not help! Only eternity will reveal the vast number of individuals whose lives have been dramatically changed through the use of this one hymn from the pen of a disabled woman. It is a hymn that can and should be used more frequently than merely an invitational number at the close of a service. Its message is one that we as believers need to be reminded of frequently-that our eternal standing and peace with God depends solely on Christ’s merits and not our own.

In spite of her illness, Charlotte lived to be 82. She died on this day, September 22, 1871. After her death, more than a thousand letters were found among her papers, written by people telling her how her hymn had touched their lives.

Couple of comments about the lyrics:
We sing:  “Just as I am – Without one plea.”  Every single person, when confronted face to face with the facts of their sin, will be completely speechless.  Sin is so serious that it “separates” people from God – Isa. 59:2. On earth men come up with a lot of excuses for sin and sometimes people accept these excuses.  Man has, as we sing in the second stanza of our hymn, a “dark blot” on his “soul.” This “blot” which is clearly visible and hard to remove is a big problem and hinderance for any who would want to come to God. This blot is the problem of sin and this blot can be cleansed in only one way. Come as you are. Christ has a special cleansing blood that will take care of that dark blot.

Our hymn speaks of just “one dark blot but this does not mean man is guilty of just one sin. Jas. 3:2 says “in many things we ALL stumble.” We need only one stain on our eternal spirit to be separated from God. One sin is enough to keep us out of heaven, but for us we have so many sins, many dark blots actually and need the strong power of the blood of Jesus that shall never lose its power until all the ransomed church of God is asaved to sin no m more – to cleanse.

In the fifth stanza you will find words like “poor, wretched, blind.”  Those who have not had their sins forgiven are in a wretched condition and they may not know it because sin has blinded them.   The words “poor, wretched, and blind” are three descriptions of the unsaved.

  • The word “sight’ stands in contrast to the word “blind.”
  • The word “riches” stands in contrast to the word “wretched.”
  • “Healing of the mind” is the opposite of being “blind.”

Living as an unsaved person is the worst way to experience life. Our hymn seems to talk about the non-Christian way of life as the years go by.

In the fourth stanza we have these words:   “Tho’ tossed about, with many a conflict, many a doubt, fighting and fears within, without.”     As we see these words passages such as Eph. 2:5, 12-13 come to mind – “that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!” Sin toments us and we try many alternatives without success.

Friends, man’s condition without Christ and the gospel is one of misery. Thankfully there is some help.   Going back to the first line of our hymn – “thy blood was shed.”  Over the years a lot of blood has been shed.  Jn. 19:34 says a soldier pierced the side of Jesus Christ and out came blood and water.   Rom. 5:9 says man can be “justified” by Jesus’ blood.

Jesus’ blood “can cleanse from each spot.”    John said Christ’s blood cleanses from “all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:7). Jn. 3:16 says God “so loved the world” that “He gave His only begotten Son.”  Our hymn says God’s love is “unknown” and has “broken every barrier down“.

As we sing in this hymn Thou bidd’st me to come, – we come because “Thy promise I believe and All I need in thee I find”. All we need for salvation will be found in Christ. All, nothing less, nothing more. All I need in thee to find O lamb of God I come.

When we sing these words do we really mean what we sing?  Is it actually true that “all I need in thee I find?”   God offers the things we need in this life and in eternity. Several times we sing, “I come, I come.” Without really coming. Please come to Him today, right now.   These words describe life in the here and now.   Are we someone who truly believes?   Do we believe in Jesus and what He did?

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