Comments about this grand old hymn by Dr. John MacArthur
“I’m sure that most of us are very familiar with Charlotte Eliot’s old hymn entitled “Just as I am.” That hymn more than any other hymn in the Christian world has been an invitation hymn in evangelistic meetings for years and years. It was penned in 1836 so it’s been around for quite a while. It has been sung and re-sung. In fact, probably is being sung almost every hour of every day somewhere in the world among English speaking people. Billy Graham for one has used that hymn at crusades for over 40 years, designed to move people forward at the invitation after his preaching.
The most familiar verse of that familiar hymn, “Just as I am,” is the first verse and it goes like this: “Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me; and that Thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God I come, I come.” The thoughts that those words meant to cover are a biblical reality. It’s simply a call to sinners to come, to come to Christ who shed His blood for them. They are to come just as they are. That’s what “Just as I am” means. Solely on the basis of faith they are to come and He will save them. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” And Jesus said, “Him that comes unto Me, I’ll under no circumstances cast out,” John 6:37. And the hymn is meant to state that the sinner who wants to come can come just as he is by faith to embrace Christ.
Interestingly enough, however, the erosion of the gospel in our day has given that particular verse and hymn a rather insidious twist. The language of the modern message sounds vaguely similar to “Just as I am,” but the difference in meaning is quite profound. Sinners today, you see, are hearing not only that Christ will receive them just as they are, but also that He will let them stay that way. Many erroneously believe that they can come to Christ, receive absolution from their sins or forgiveness, be granted the gift of immortality, or heaven, and then walk away to continue living life anyway they please, even choosing…as one well-known Bible teacher, author and theologian says, quote: “To leave God out and live according to the old nature.” Beloved, that is the gospel we hear today. Come just as you are and go away just as you are. Jesus will take you just the way you are. In fact, He will let you stay that way.”
The emphasis placed on the last paragraph is mine. It’s a critical and sadly accurate assessment of much of today’s Christian evangelism, and excellent teaching concerning the kind of faith that saves a man and the kind that does not. The entire sermon is available here, and available free of charge for download in audio and PDF formats.