"JESUS PAID IT ALL"
"Purge me…and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than show" (Psa. 51.7)
INTRO.: A hymn which encourages us to remember that Jesus made it possible for us to be purged, cleansed, and washed whiter than snow is "Jesus Paid It All" (#488 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #606 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Elvina Mabel Hall, who was born at Alexandria, VA, on June 4, 1820, the daughter of Capt. David Reynolds. After she married Richard Hall, for forty years they were faithful members of the Monument St. Methodist Church in Baltimore, MD. One Sunday morning in 1865, while supposedly listening to the minister’s rather lengthy closing prayer, her mind wandered and she began thinking about the lesson’s message regarding God’s forgiveness and all that Christ had done to provide redemption for mankind, especially for her. A poem began forming in her mind, so since she had no paper handy she looked around and spied the only thing at hand to write on, a hymnbook whose title was the New Lute of Zion.
Picking up the hymnbook and opening to a blank flyleaf, Elvina began jotting down the verses. After the service, she showed it to the minister, George W. Schrick, although she was somewhat embarrassed at having to explain that she had written it in a hymnbook during the prayer. Schrick tucked it away in his files. Sometime after receiving Mrs. Hall’s words, Mr. Schrick called on the church’s music director, John Thomas Grape (1835-1915). Mr. Grape, also a successful coal merchant in Baltimore and an amateur musician, had earlier been impressed with another hymn entitled "Jesus Paid It All" which had appeared in The Golden Censer, a hymnbook published in 1864 by William B. Bradbury. Grape had composed a tune (All to Christ) patterned after the other hymn. When he gave a copy to Schrick, they found that the stanzas written by Mrs. Hall fit it perfectly. The song was soon sung at several churches in the Baltimore area.
Three years later, in 1868, someone–either Schrick or Grape–sent the hymn to be published in the 1868 collection, Sabbath Chords, compiled by Theodore Perkins for Brown and Perkins in New York City, NY. It is possible that Mrs. Hall was also familiar with the Bradbury song and was unconsciously influenced by it when she produced her words. Many alterations have been made to her original text, and this accounts for the changes of wording in different books. The song in its present form appeared in the 1874 Gospel Song Book Collection published by Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876). After the death of her first husband, Elvina married Thomas Myers in 1885. He was a Methodist minister with the Baltimore Conference. She died three years later at Ocean Grove, NJ, on July 18, 1889.
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 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The hymn reminds us of the price that Jesus paid to save us from our sins.
I. From stanza 1 we learn that Jesus alone must be our all in all
"I hear the Savior say, ‘Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all."
A. Our strength indeed is small because we all have sinned: Rom. 3.23
B. As a result, we are children of weakness before God and cannot save ourselves by our own good works: Eph. 2.8-9, Tit. 3.5
C. The reason that Jesus is our all in all is that only in Him is found redemption: Col. 1.12-14
II. From stanza 2 we learn that nothing but His power can change us
"Lord, now indeed I find Thy power and Thine alone
Can change the leper’s spots, And melt the heart of stone."
A. Of course, the power of Jesus Christ to make this change is in the gospel: Rom. 1.16
B. By that same divine power Christ changed the leper’s spots: Matt. 8.1-4
C. And this power can melt the heart of stone to change those who are unrighteous to those who are justified before God: 1 Cor. 6.9-11
III. From stanza 3 we learn that it is Christ’s blood that can wash away our sin
"For nothing good have I Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white In the blood of Calvary’s Lamb."
A. Nothing that we can do, no good works of ourselves, can make us clean: Tit. 3.3-5
B. Only the grace and power of God can take our sins which are like scarlet and make them white as snow: Isa. 1.18
C. The means by which He is able to do this is the blood of Christ: 1 Jn. 1.7
IV. From stanza 4 we learn that the righteousness which Christ proves us brings blessings
"And now complete in Him, With robes of righteousness,
Close sheltered ‘neath His side, I am divinely blessed."
A. We can be complete in Christ because He has done everything that is needed to make salvation available: Col. 2.10
B. Thus, it is by the righteousness of Christ in dying for us that we are redeemed: Rom. 3.24-26
C. All spiritual blessings in heavenly places are found in Him and Him alone: Eph. 1.3-7
V. From stanza 5 we learn that His death will enable us to stand before His throne
"And when before the throne I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my tropies down, All down at Jesus’ feet."
A. Someday we shall stand before His throne in judgment: Matt. 25.31-33ff, Rom. 14.12, 2 Cor. 5.10
B. However, those who have obeyed the Lord’s will so as to serve and please Him will stand before Him complete and hear Him say, "Well done": Matt. 25.21
C. They will lay their trophies down at His feet and be granted eternal salvation: Heb. 5.8-9 (note: some songbooks have altered the final two lines of the stanza to read, "’Jesus died my soul to save,’ My lips shall still repeat")
CONCL.: The chorus joyfully proclaims the fact that Jesus is the basis for our salvation.
"Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."
It should be a great source of encouragement to us in trying to deal with the problem of sin in our lives to know that forgiveness is available because "Jesus Paid It All."