Theological Problems (If Any) With “Come Thou Fount”

Not too long ago I was discussing hymns with some friends and how we miss them sometimes and we were discussing our favorites. During the conversation someone brought up “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and the person said something to the effect of “I can’t stand that one” and acted quite disgusted at the thought of the song. But I responded “Oh, that’s my favorite hymn!” And that’s true, it is.

What rubbed my friend the wrong way about this great worship song of old is a stanza which comes in the latter half of the song:

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

More specifically it is the line “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love” that was the major point of contention. My friend declared that she had never felt that way as a Christian. Furthermore she believed that such a sentiment would indicate that a person may not be saved. How could you be securely and soundly saved through Jesus’ shed blood yet be prone to leave the God you love? A just question, I think.

So how about it? If you are ever or have ever sensed an inner wont to wander from the fold of God, does that mean there is something wrong with your spiritual life? I would say no.

Who among us is prepared to testify that “from the moment of my conversion right up until the present time I have never faltered or departed from the ways of God in thought, word or deed, nor have I ever been tempted to do so?” I have never gossiped, I have never criticized unjustly, I have never entertained an impure thought.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

We who are saved have been converted into the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We have been reckoned sinless and without blame for He has washed our garments white as snow with His own blood (it is because of Jesus blood and righteousness and NOTHING that we have done or could have ever done). We have been declared righteous, sinless, blameless by grace through faith. But to say we never sin? I believe that we who are Christians are being conformed to the image of God’s Son and so as we proceed and grow in our Christian life we are to become less and less prone to sinfulness. We will indeed become more like Jesus. But this occurs by dying to ourselves, by taking up our cross daily and following Him. Everyday we must cry out “Lord! The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Take my heart, seal it up for yourself in your courts above; bind my heart to thee this day so that in thought, word and deed I might live a Christ-like life!”

I see nothing wrong with such a prayer, therefore I see nothing wrong with this great hymn’s third stanza. What say you?


4 Responses to “Theological Problems (If Any) With “Come Thou Fount””

  1. 1 Renee
    August 21, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Good post, Josh. I completely agree with you. I know I am not capable of loving God wholeheartedly on my own. I am so thankful for his grace that woos me back each time my heart begins to grow cold. It’s a beautiful song, one of my favorites too.

  2. 2 Danny
    August 21, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    That verse in particular is a very needed reminder of our failures. Perhaps that is what the person (she) was afraid of. As has been said, “Good Word”.

  3. September 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Your friend’s comments on Robert Robinson’s great hymn astonish me! I can remember a friend and I counseling a couple who were causing some problems in our church. At one point, the man declared, “I have not sinned in 17 years.” My friend whispered to me, “I think he just did!”

    It would be wonderful if each Christian was completely consistent and always faithful, but that’s not reality. We are weak, and fallible, and indeed “prone to wander.” (Otherwise, I Jn. 1:9 would be entirely unnecessary!)

    Just as a child of his parents does not stop being their child when he is disobedient, so a born again child of God is still a child of God when disobedient. Much is lost by our disobedience, peace, joy, fruitfulness, a sense of His presence, but not our relationship which is founded on the righteousness of Christ. And when we backslide, it is then the Lord lovingly chastises us, in order to bring correction and restoration (Heb. 12:5-11).

  4. September 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

    @Robert: Thanks for stopping by.

    I agree with your assessment. There are plenty of examples of soundly-saved Christians sinning in the New Testament. Peter immediately springs to mind (his denial, his behavior in the book of Acts that caused Paul to confront him, etc.). This is a beautiful hymn and I hold the stanza in question to be the most moving.

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