Some Christian music historians have ranked Philip Bliss as the second greatest Christian songwriter in history. In just twelve years, he has written several hundred hymn lyrics and musical scores, including: I Gave My Life For Thee — It Is Well With My Soul — Almost Persuaded — Hallelujah, What A Savior! – Hold the strong – Jesus even loves me – Let the lower lights burn – The light of the world is Jesus – Wonderful words of life – and ONCE AND FOR ALL.
Philip died in a tragic train crash at the age of 38 but, had he lived, he would probably have surpassed his peers (Fannie Crosby, Charles Wesley and Ira Sankey) in terms of the number of compositions produced. And he wanted his works to be freely used and enjoyed by the Church so that none of his songs would ever be copyrighted.
For Christmas 1871, his wife gave him a bound copy of English periodicals entitled “Things New and Old”. One of the articles refers to Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. And Hebrews 10:10. … we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
This article inspired Philip to write the anthem, ONCE FOR ALL (sometimes titled Free from the Law).
There is much confusion about this and many people have perverted the doctrine of God’s grace to imply that once we are saved we have the freedom to do whatever we want without fear of his condemnation or of his anger.
So what does it mean to be “free from the law”? The law is a strict prison master; It is consistent and ruthless. It is impossible to keep and any violation carries the death penalty. This is the environment we live in when we think we can earn God’s favor by our own good works. But God is merciful and has given his gift of undeserved grace to all who would believe.
It’s the Gospel; Jesus suffered, bled and died so that everyone whose faith is by grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone, would be free from the grip and sanction of the law. There is no longer a sacrifice for sin; the fine was paid in full, once and for all.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Rome: “…for you are not under law, but under grace.
But that does not mean that we can continue to ignore His revealed laws or that we can live according to our own desires. Paul’s words are preceded by the phrase, “…For sin shall NOT rule over you…”
Freedom from the law also means that after God saves us, his Spirit lives in us and gives us power to resist sin, obey it, and serve it.
Glory to God, Christ has redeemed us ONCE AND FOR ALL.
Ralph M. Petersen and his wife, Kathy, are the owners of the OLDE TOWNE EMPORIUM at 212 E. Main St. in Rogersville, Tennessee. Your comments are welcome. You can contact him at [email protected] or by phone at (951) 321 9235.