“I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Wesley)

"I know that my Redeemer liveth…" (Job 19.25)

     INTRO.: A hymn which reminds us that God’s grace is manifest through our Redeemer who lives is "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." The text was written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). Originally in 23 stanzas, it was first published with the title "Rejoicing in Hope" in his 1742 (some sources say 1741) Hymns and Sacred Poems. Some older books used as many as nine stanzas, but most modern books have only the first four. The most commonly found tune (Bradford or Messiah) was composed by George Frederick Handel (1685-1759). It is taken from a melody in his great oratorio Messiah, which was first performed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1741. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1925 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L . Jorgenson; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today, it can be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann, and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand.

     The hymn identifies some of the blessings of grace that we have through our Redeemer.

I. Stanza 1 talks about His intercession
"I know that my Redeemer lives, And ever prays for me;
A token of His love He gives, A pledge of liberty."
 A. We can know that our Redeemer lives because of the evidence that He was raised from the dead: Acts 2.22-24, 32
 B. As our Redeemer who lives, He "prays for" us, that is, He makes intercession for us: Heb. 7.25
 C. A token or pledge that He gives to us of His love is the earnest of the Spirit: Eph. 1.13-14

II. Stanza 2 talks about His salvation
"I find Him lifting up my head; He brings salvation near.
His presence makes me free indeed, And He will soon appear."
 A. Our Redeemer brings salvation near because He came to seek and save the lost: Lk. 19.10
 B. Therefore, His presence will make us free indeed: Jn. 8.36
 C. Those who have been made free from sin can look for Him to appear (I would prefer the wording, "And He may soon appear"): Heb. 9.28

III. Stanza 3 talks about His will for us
"He wills that I should holy be: Can I withstand His will?
(some sources read "Who" or "What can withstand His will?")
The counsel of His grace in me, He surely shall fulfill."
 A. Our Redeemer’s will for us is that we should be Holy as He is holy: 1 Pet. 1.15-16
 B. In order to make this possible, He enables us to be saved by grace through faith: Eph. 2.8-9
 C. And to fulfill His counsel of Grace, He will supply our every need: Phil. 4.19

IV. Stanza 4 talks about His return
"Jesus, I hang upon Thy word: I steadfastly believe
Thou wilt return and claim me, Lord, And to Thyself receive."
 A. We need to hang upon our Redeemer’s word because it will judge us in the last day: Jn. 12.48
 B. Also, we need to believe everything that is revealed to us in His word because we must walk by faith: 2 Cor. 5.7
 C. One thing which the word teaches us and to which we can look forward is that He will return and claim His people: Tit. 2.13-14

     CONCL.: This song has probably not been used very much in congregations of God’s people because it has been in very few of our books. If you have ever heard a performance of Handel’s Messiah (please understand that I do not endorse the singing of religious music to instrumental accompaniment, but the Messiah is a great classic of Western music), you know that this is indeed a beautiful and very moving melody, and Wesley’s lyrics are a deeply spiritual expression of faith. I can have the assurance of God’s grace for my salvation because "I Know That My Redeemer Lives."

2 thoughts on ““I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Wesley)

  1. The normally omitted stanzas are:
    5. Joyful in hope, my spirit soars
    To meet Thee from above,
    Thy goodness thankfully adores;
    And sure I taste Thy love.
    6. Thy love I soon expect to find,
    In all its depth and height;
    To comprehend the eternal mind,
    And grasp the Infinite.
    7. When God is Mine and I am His,
    Of paradise possessed,
    I taste unutterable bliss,
    And everlasting rest.
    8. The bliss of those that fully dwell,
    Fully in Thee believe,
    ’Tis more than angel tongues can tell,
    Or angel minds conceive.
    9. Thou only knowst, who didst obtain,
    And die to make it known;
    The great salvation now explain,
    And perfect us in one!


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