Key Verse: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
It is believed that Charles Wesley wrote the great hymn ‘And can it be?’ shortly after his own conversion. The Moravian, Peter Bohler had asked him, ‘Do you hope to be saved? He replied, ‘I do!’ Peter Bohler next asked, ‘For what reason do you hope it?’ He replied, ‘Because I have used my best endeavours to serve God.’ Later Wesley reports, ‘He shook his head, and said no more and thought him very uncharitable, saying in my heart, ‘What, are not my endeavours sufficient ground of hope? Would he rob me of my endeavours? I have nothing else to trust to.’ (Arnold Dallimore, Charles Wesley, Crossway, p.58-59) Later on the 21st May, after being sick in body as well as in spirit, He finally found rest to his soul by whole trusting in Jesus.
Originally titled “Free Grace,” we can see throughout Wesley’s hymn his utter amazement at the extravagant grace of God revealed to him in his own salvation. He is lost in the wonder that Jesus would die and offer up his perfect life, for Wesley’s sins. He came to the realization that if he stood before a perfect Judge and presented his best endeavours he still stand condemned. Yet, he could trust in the finished work of Christ, who lived the perfect life and in whom no guilt was found.
The final verse Wesley’s hymn ‘and can it be’ reflects Paul’s word to the church in Romans 8:1 where he writes “There is therefore now no condemnation for them which are in Christ Jesus.”
“No condemnation” is courtroom language. It means to be found innocent of the accusation, to have no sentence passed and no guilty verdict found. Paul and Wesley are both saying that we a now stand not condemned because we are“clothed in righteousness divine.” Since the garden of Eden, God uses biblical imagery to provide a glimpse to his plan. He makes garments of skin to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 and in Zechariah 3, God provided a change of clothing for Joshua the High Priest. These are foreshadows of what Paul describes to us in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We standed uncondemned because Jesus carried our sins to the cross, and clothes us in his righteousness.
“Amazing love! how can it be.” Are you lost in wonder as you reflect on what Christ has done for you?