We’ve all sung Amazing Grace, a simple, yet incredibly profound hymn of gratitude, written by John Newton way back in 1772. We know the words to this beautiful hymn, but what is grace, and why is it so amazing?
To understand amazing grace, we first need to see what it is and why we need it.
Webster’s dictionary’s top definition of grace is, “unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” The first word is so important: unmerited. This means we did nothing to earn or deserve God’s grace, it was instead gifted to us.
Now we need to look at why we need grace. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul writes, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)
According to this passage (and many others), humans, by default, are in a pretty hopeless position. Dead in sin. What can a dead person do to help themselves? Can they call 9-1-1? Can they revive themselves? Can they even ask a passerby for help? No, not a thing. And neither can we when we are trapped in the grips of sin. Disobedient to God, children of His wrath, enslaved to sin, and blindly following Satan and our own fleshly desires. What are we to do?
In the very next verse Paul writes what is arguably one of the most encouraging passages in Scripture:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV)
When the word ‘but’ is used it typically reverses or neutralizes the preceding statement. “BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, made us alive” (saved us), not because we were holy, nor somehow did something to earn it, nor even because we were super-righteous enough last Sunday with that awesome tithe, but so we could do the good works He prepared beforehand for us to do. He created us specifically to do the works He saved us to do; it’s all His doing and all by His grace.
Oh the wretched sinner I was, now seated (past tense) with Him in the heavenly places, saved by nothing except the loving, forgiving, foreknowing hand of the Almighty God! Even while I was still dead, buried, and hopelessly lost in my sin, God saved me. What a priceless and precious gift this grace is! God’s grace is truly amazing grace!
Let us praise Him and lift up His holy name in pure joy as we thank Him for the unmerited gift of salvation we possess in Christ!