COME YE SINNERS, POOR AND NEEDY
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.
Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?
Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
Published in 1759, this hymn was written by Joseph Hart. Little is know about Mr. Hart’s early childhood, but prior to his conversion he was adamant against Christianity and the preaching of one, John Wesley. He wrote a paper entitled “The Unreasonableness of Religion” refuting the many ideas Wesley was preaching. I found the title rather interesting because in some ways Christianity might be considered “unreasonable,” especially to an unbeliever. “Unreasonable” can mean without reason, or excessive, or exorbitant. Isn’t that what God’s grace is? It is difficult to reason why He would love us and send His only Son to die for us, but He did. His love was excessive and exorbitant. Ephesians 1:7-9 tells us “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,” It wasn’t reason that caused Him to “lavish” His grace upon us – it was from His heart of love. I John 3:1 reminds us “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
This hymn is a plea for sinners to come. Those poor and needy. Those recognizing they are helpless on their own. But the reward awaiting those who come to Him is an excessive, exorbitant, “unreasonable” love and grace from a wonderful Savior.
Couple of comments on the lyrics:
“Lost and ruined by the Fall” – Reinforcing the doctrine of Original sin, the author points us with these words to the fall of Adam. Paul says in Romans 5:12 ” Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” We are born sinners and ruined by the Fall because we are descendants of Adam. We are not born good and are corrupted by the things of this world. We are born in sin. We are marred by sin. And as the author tells us here, without Christ, we are ruined by sin. But as depressing as the news is about sin in Romans 5, we also find great hope in Romans 5. Paul also tells us “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
“If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all” – I like the truth found in these words too. The truth that if we are striving to do better or trying to get our life cleaned up or aiming to be able to get our hearts clean by our own self-righteousness, we will never come at all. We must realize that we are sinners, poor and needy. Unworthy. Ungodly. Unlovely. We must understand that truth to have a right understanding of God’s grace. But when we reach that place where we realize our unworthiness, then and only then, can we cry out in repentance and accept His free gift of salvation.
“Sinner, will this not suffice?” In Ben Stein’s video “Expelled”, he interviews well-known atheist Richard Dawkins. At the end of the interview, he asked Mr. Dawkins how he would respond if confronted by God in Heaven asking why he didn’t believe in God when God had blessed him so much. Mr. Dawkins responds by saying “Sir, why did you take such pain to hide yourself?” This attitude displays the arrogance of man. To say that God has hidden Himself, when He has revealed Himself through His Son and through His Creation, is absurd. God has sent His Son. His Son lived a sinless life that was recorded in Scripture. He died on the Cross, and rose again. The truth found in the Bible is sufficient for anyone to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There is no other evidence needed. Sinners must look to Him on the Cross, and answer this all-important question “Sinner, will this not suffice?”
Have you ever been invited to a party or to a wedding or special event? Wedding invitations are typically very formal and flattering. Invitations to “Mr. and Mrs.” or “Dr. and Mrs.” or “Rev. and Mrs.” etc. They typically address the invitee formally, and list the full given names of the Bride and Groom and their parents in the invitation.
But I am partial to the invitations found in this hymn. The author doesn’t use flattering words. There is no flattery in his invitation. He calls it like it is. He is inviting, but he is also specific to whom the invitation is given. It is for the sinner, the poor, the needy, the weak, the wounded, the sick and the sore. It is an invitation to the thirsty, the weary and the heavy laden.
In Luke 14, Jesus tells two parables. One is referred to as the Parable of the Guests. Jesus says in verses 12-14, “And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
In the second parable entitled “The Parable of the Dinner,” Jesus says in verse 16-24 “But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’”
I hope that this hymn and the words of Jesus today encourages you to make an invitation. Not just to the “pretty good fella.” Not only to the person who has lived a relatively moral life. But an invitation to a sinner to come. There is room at the Master’s table. Time is of the essence. There is grace unmeasured – vast and free, but the dinner bell is getting ready to be rung. “Come ye sinners!!!! Come!!!!”