By Lewis Willis
In our worship recently, we sang “Jesus Paid It All.” This old song has stirred the hearts of God’s people for many years. The melody is almost as beautiful as the thought it expresses. I was especially touched by the words of verse 3:
For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
There is absolutely no basis upon which men any of us – can automatically lay claim to God’s grace. None is so great, so important, so good that he deserves the outpouring of God’s favor upon him. The Psalmist wrote in Psalms 14:3: “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Paul quoted this verse in Romans 3:10. Shortly afterward, he wrote: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Honest men confess that it is exactly as the Scriptures say – we are all guilty of sin. Our sins alienate us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). The curse of death is pronounced upon us by reason of our sins, and we are powerless to do anything to change our condition before God. If sinful man is to be saved, it will have to be accomplished by someone or something other than ourselves. And, that is where Jesus enters to change this hopeless scene.
Notice several Scriptures that address what God and Christ have done to save us: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). These are well-known passages to most of us. They tell us the basis upon which salvation from sins is available to us. Certainly it is not our works that save us. It is our “works” that have brought us unto condemnation. If we are saved, it will be God who saves us, through Christ Jesus our Lord!
The verse of the song we are considering sets forth the profound truth that we can be purged from our sins when we are washed in the blood that was shed on Calvary’s cross. David wrote: “Purge me. . ., and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psa. 51:7). This is the same message that is found in Revelation 7:14: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” There is no cleansing from sin except it be by and in the Blood of Christ, the Savior.
This raises the interesting question: “How do I reach the blood of Christ that cleanses me?” Some think that man reaches the blood of Christ by “accepting Jesus as his personal Savior,” and by reciting the sinner’s prayer. The Bible nowhere teaches such! It does, however, tell us how we come in contact with the blood of Christ. All of us know that he shed his blood in his death, at the hands of the Romans and the Jews, at Calvary almost 2000 years ago. The Word of God teaches us how we can reach that “death” in which his blood was shed in the long ago. Listen to the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:3-4: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
I realize that most preachers will not tell you this. Either they do not know the Truth about how men contact the blood of Christ or they do not believe it or they refuse to teach it. Whatever the reason, scores of people are being denied forgiveness, because modern preachers are not teaching the Truth that the death of Christ, in which he shed his sincleansing blood, is reached when we are baptized into his death. This is a sad circumstance – and it is so unnecessary!
These false teachers often protest that if one has to be baptized to reach Christ’s blood, then salvation is by man’s works, and not by grace. Again, these people are not telling the Truth. It is absolutely true that man is not saved by his own works, or by works of merit. Paul taught as much: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). However, and this is the point that modern preachers do not seek to know, or else will not admit, baptism is not a work of human merit – it is an operation or a work of God! Note Colossians 2:12: “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Paul says that baptism accomplishes its purpose because it is “an operation of God.” The New King James Version says it is “the work of God.” Baptism is effective because God makes it work! Therefore, by baptism we reach the death of Christ. We need to reach his death because that it where his blood was shed. We need His blood to cleanse us from our sins.
The song we are considering says that we have done nothing whereby we might claim God’s grace. We are simply washed in the cleansing blood of the Lamb of God when we obey his Word and are baptized into his death. In that sense, “Jesus paid it all – All to him I owe!” Have you been cleansed by His Blood? Have you been baptized as his Word requires? If not, let me urgently ask that you obey him while yet you can. The day is coming when it will be too late for you to obey him?
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 9, p. 257, 279
May 7, 1992