The Story Behind And Can It Be


Romans 5 New International Version

Peace and Hope

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

According to the editor of The Oxford Edition of the Works of John Wesley, “And Can It Be” was written immediately following Charles Wesley’s conversion to Christianity on May 21, 1738. Wesley had known his Bible well before this time but had not yet experienced affirmation of new birth or the wholeness of grace in his life.

Wesley starts the first stanza by expressing admiration over the love shown by Jesus dying for him and wonders how we who “pursued” his death are now graced by it.

In the second stanza, Wesley calls for appreciation of God’s love and mercy in this sacrifice.  In the third stanza, Wesley conveys the unending grace and mercy of Christ’s love and humility in the incarnation, death, and finding of lost sinners.  In the fourth stanza, Wesley harkens to the “imprisonment” of his own sin and the freedom he found in Christ.

Finally, he reviews the results of Christ’s loving and merciful work: there is no condemnation for those made alive in Christ and clothed in his righteousness; rather, there is open access to the throne as we have the right to claim the divine crown.

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