Marvelous Grace

Truly something to marvel at.

Helping Yourself to Grace (3)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5.1, 2

Marvelous Grace
  Julia H. Johnston, 1911

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can we do to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Standing in grace
We stand, Paul insisted, in the grace of God. Grace is where we have landed. Grace is where we live. Grace defines the boundaries and parameters of our lives. Grace directs our stance toward God and the world. And because of the marvelous grace of our loving Lord, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Marveling is a most appropriate response to the grace of God. To marvel is to be filled with wonder and astonishment. As we reflect on the fact that the God of heaven and earth both loves us, and communicates that love to us daily; and that He embodied that love for our salvation and life in our Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot help but wonder: How could I be so loved by one Whom I have so offended? How could my stony indifference be so completely overcome, so that now I long above all else to know Him Who has saved me? What wondrous love is this, O my soul, that reaches down to save, renew, transform, and empower me as an agent of grace every day of my life?

The grace we stand in leads us to hope that we may see God in His glory and glorify Him in all aspects of our lives. And this is because the grace in which we stand is greater than all the sin we’ve ever committed or ever could commit. We have no power to insinuate ourselves into the very Presence of God. We have no strength to be break free of our sins, so as to present ourselves clear and new to the Lord. Only His grace can do this, and does do this, as it is freely bestowed on all who believe.

The greatness of grace
Julia H. Johnston captured much of the marvelous nature of the grace in which we stand in her 1911 hymn, “Marvelous Grace”. Her lyrics remind us of just how great is the grace in which we stand, first, to overcome our sin and guilt, so that there is therefore now no condemnation for us who believe in Jesus (Rom. 8.1). Only grace can do that.

Grace cleanses and renews us within, changing the way we think, the desires that animate us, and the priorities that guide our steps. Grace lodges our soul in Jesus, and He transforms us, from glory to glory, to be more like Him (2 Cor. 3.12-18).

In the process, grace lifts us from despair and fear and doubt into the assurance of salvation and the hope of greater glory to come. It renews us within and without, removing the dark stains of sin as far as the east is from the west; breaking us free of sin’s grip, throwing off the pall of guilt and shame, and conveying us into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, that realm of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit where Jesus, exalted in glory, is making all things new.

And all this was set in motion by the mighty cross of Jesus, which is our true and lasting refuge, shelter, and stronghold. There grace stretched forth bloody hands to embrace sin and death, to lay hold on them and tear away their grip on us; and, at the same time, they reached out to us, from the midst of that crimson flood, for forgiveness and everlasting life.

Marvelous indeed is the infinite and matchless grace of our Lord!

The end of grace
All who stand in the grace of our Lord Jesus have no greater longing than to see Jesus face to face, and finally to be like Him (1 Jn. 3.1-3). And grace will take us even that far.

Where you stand says a lot about who you are, what you believe, and what you aspire to in this life. Standing in the grace of Jesus, we know that we are unworthy, undeserving, and yet undeniably forgiven and saved. Untold grace awaits us each day, to sustain and keep us, nurture us in our great salvation, and make us daily more like Jesus in every way. We cannot exhaust the marvelous grace of our loving Lord. That grace cannot fail to reach us at the point of our need, and to empower us to live each day out of the newness in which we stand.

If your life has lost some of the wonder and mystery that come with knowing we are forgiven and saved, then be renewed in the marvelous grace of Jesus. Sing of His marvelous grace, and be astonished anew, every day, at how grace, grace, God’s grace has established you in the hope of glory, on a journey to the Presence of Jesus Christ all the days of your life.

For reflection
1. We don’t much marvel at the grace of God these days. Why not? How would you encourage a new believer ever to marvel and be astonished at the grace of God?

2. What does it mean for you each day to know that, by the grace of God, you stand in the hope of glory?

3. How can believers encourage and help one another to marvel at the grace of God that brings us ever more deeply into our great salvation?

Next Steps – Transformation: Pick four times today to sing one of the stanzas of this hymn. At the end of the day, sing it to reflect on all the grace God has shown you. Then pray and thank Him for the marvelous grace of our loving Lord.

More songs of praise await you in The Ailbe Psalter, in which we have arranged all the psalms for singing according to familiar hymn tunes. You can order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore