Grace Alone

One particularly curious interest of mine is the discovery of new words. There's something personally satisfying about learning to condense a sentence, or express a complex thought, or beautify a phrase with the use of a single new word. I distinctly remember finding the word PEJORATIVE and delighting in using it in many instances where I could not before. Unfortunately, the use of new words only goes as far as the company you keep. So I find it prudent to keep this interest to myself, and spare my friends and family the annoyance of my 'nerd words'. (You may also be a word-nerd if you bothered to click the link above!)

There are some words that merit my interest by nature of their meaning, and others that I love by how they sound. The best authors/writers/poets/wordsmiths understand that both are important. This is what makes poetry poetry, and stories memorable, and songs singable! The craft of word choice is actually very important and very meaningful, not only to me but to all of us, if we're honest.

In 1773 John Newton penned those famous lines:

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see!

I happen to agree with Mr. Newton, and would add that I have yet to find a word that sounds more sweet to my ears than grace. What makes it so sweet to me is how loaded with meaning this little five-letter word is. Grace, in one fell swoop, rightly displays the nature of God and man and the redemptive transaction that defies human reasoning. Grace reminds us how helpless we truly were before Christ literally entered into our world. Can a blind man see by his own sheer will? Absolutely not! The blind need to be given light, the lost need to be shown the way, the sick need a healer and the dead need new life.  This is grace!

"Grace Alone" by Dustin Kensrue is a song well suited to remind us what grace looks like - from both sides of this cosmic relationship between the Godhead and man. In his own words the author says, "This song basically walks through how the whole Trinity is involved in saving us, despite our best efforts to derail that."

Kensrue intentionally mixed two styles of writing in this song to drive that point home. The verses employ more casual language when talking about what we were doing as we were running away from God, as we were trying to do things on our own, how we thought we understood everything, etc. By contrast, the choruses become slightly more 'formal' as they exalt what God has done. Here the biblical allusions are much more potent and sit right on the surface.

As you listen to the song, make the most of your time by also reading through the many scriptures from which the lyrics are inspired. The great benefit of singing is its power to lodge texts into our memory by matching them with music. And what better words to fill our songs than those inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself! As you listen, as you read, praise God for the gift of song, and thank Him for the men and women of yesterday, today and tomorrow that He has and will continue to inspire to keep His Word (the best words) at the forefront of our hearts and minds.
I was an orphan (Lam. 5:3) lost at the fall (Gen. 3)
Running away when I’d hear You call (cf. Jonah 1)
But Father, You worked Your will (Rom 8:28)
I had no righteousness of my own (Rom. 3:10)
I had no right to draw near Your throne (Heb. 4:16)
But Father, You loved me still (Rom. 5:8)

And in love before You laid the world’s foundation (Eph. 1)
You predestined to adopt me as Your own
You have raised me up so high above my station
I’m a child of God (I John 3:1) by grace and grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9)

You left Your home to seek out the lost (Phil. 2:5-11)
You knew the great and terrible cost
But Jesus, Your face was set (Heb. 12:2)
I worked my fingers down to the bone
Nothing I did could ever atone
But Jesus, You paid my debt

By Your blood I have redemption and salvation
Lord, You died that I might reap what You have sown (Gal. 6:9)
And You rose that I might be a new creation (II Cor. 5:17)
I am born again (John 3:7) by grace and grace alone

I was in darkness all of my life (Ephesians 5:8)
I never knew the day from the night
But Spirit, You made me see (Ephesians 1:17-18)
I swore I knew the way on my own
Head full of rocks, a heart made of stone (Ezekiel 36:26)
But Spirit, You moved in me

At Your touch my sleeping spirit was awakened
On my darkened heart, the light of Christ has shone (II Cor. 4:6)
Called into a Kingdom that cannot be shaken
Heaven’s citizen (Phil. 1:27, 3:20) by grace and grace alone

So I stand in faith (I Cor. 16:13) by grace and grace alone
I will run the race (I Cor. 9:27; Heb. 12:1) by grace and grace alone
I will slay my sin (Rom. 8:13) by grace and grace alone
I will reach the end (Phil. 3:14) by grace and grace alone

Words and Music by Dustin Kensrue
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