I've been brainstorming for quite a while over a hymn that I felt was needed to address, in a devotionally polemical way, some recent debates in U.S. Lutheranism about the doctrine of objective justification. A page in my gradually developing volume of "Edifying Hymns" has been marked for it. A list of speaking (or singing) points has been stewing in my writing journal. It's been in the back of my mind. Last night, I finally decided to undertake the actual writing of that hymn, as an outlet for some restless energy. I was thinking about writing it to fit the tune GOTT DER VATER WOHN UNS BEI, but I've already used that tune for two different original hymns. So, instead, I wrote an original tune in a somewhat different meter, titled JUSTIFICATION.
He would see all men saved
And brought to know the truth.
So deeply this He craved,
His only Son, eternal Christ,
To sinful Adam's line was spliced
And, once for all, was sacrificed -
For which He, only He, sufficed.
No idle promise this, no lie;
Who would God's plighted word deny?
While we were helpless - nay:
While we were yet in sin
And under bondage lay,
God's foes, and dead within -
Then Christ for us was crucified;
Then Christ for all our trespass died;
Then He, when raised and glorified,
The unjust fully justified.
What merit dare we, then, inject
Twixt lost mankind and the elect?
When He was sacrificed,
Pierced through His hands and feet,
Our dying Lord and Christ
Declared the thing complete.
His off'ring - blameless, broken, brave -
An answer to all charges gave,
All flesh redeemed from hell and grave,
Accorded with God's will to save.
He pled, "Forgive them" as He died;
Who would God's counsel now divide?
What God declares is done,
Nor on man's pleasure waits.
His Word with Him is one
And what He speaks, creates.
For faith His words of promise sue
And, though such faith to them is due,
Need naught from us to make them true.
The faith He justifies us through,
His living, active word imparts
Unto our void and formless hearts.
We live by God's own act;
His righteous verdict flows
From the objective fact
The heart thus opened knows.
Salvation comes from God's own heart,
The course His changeless will did chart,
The Lamb for slaughter set apart,
The gifts His means of grace impart.
Through faith, not unto faith, we raise,
But unto Christ, pure hearts in praise.