Free and Infinite Grace

Can it be? Really? Yes, it can!

Helping Yourself to Grace (6)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8.9

And Can It Be?
Charles Wesley, 1738

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis myst’ry all: th’ Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above—
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

See Jesus, see grace
The grace of God is most fully and completely observable in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the grace of God in human form – God in the flesh, living out and dying in the grace of God for lost sinners. We will never truly understand nor fully appreciate the enormity and infinite nature of God’s grace until we see it displayed in Jesus.

Charles Wesley understood this, and his hymn And Can It Be? invites us to consider the wonder, marvel, and power of the grace of God in Jesus, and its effects on those who believe.

The song doesn’t begin with Jesus, but with us as believers wondering over the mystery of our having gained “an interest in the Savior’s blood”. How can this be? We are the cause of His death. Had we been there when Jesus walked the earth, we would have hounded and pursued Him all the way to the cross, all the while believing we were only doing what was right. We caused His pain; but through His pain and suffering and death, the infinite grace of God remains, reaching to wretches such as we with forgiveness and new life.

See Jesus, healing the sick, teaching the Good News, and suffering on the cross, and know that, while you and I put Him there, God ordained His suffering as the means whereby His wonderful and marvelous, free and infinite grace might reach even to the likes of us.

A strange design
This seems like a strange design to many. Why would the eternal God freely die to save us? Shouldn’t we rather work hard to save ourselves, if saved we would truly be?

The eternal plan of God is fraught with mystery, impenetrable to puny human reason, but clear enough in the details for us to understand and embrace it. The eternal Word of God left His Father’s side to become a Man. He emptied Himself of certain divine prerogatives, bringing with Him to earth full Deity into sinless humanity, and demonstrating the love of God for fallen sinners by all His words and deeds.

His death on the cross was sufficient to pay the debt of sin owed by every human being. Through His death, the grace of God is efficient to find out those whom God has chosen, and to lay hold on them with saving and transforming power. The immense and free mercy of God finds and confronts us in our rebellion, arrests us in our ignorance, renews us in our apathy, and sets us on the path that leads to abounding grace for our every need.

What a strange design! As Anselm explained in the 11th century in his treatise, Cur Deus Homo (Why the God-Man), God in His infinite grace became a Man to pay a debt He did not owe, an incalculable debt of sin – sin which had imprisoned us in disobedience, and the debt of which we could never pay apart from the grace of God.

“Follow Me!”
The infinite grace of God, which has paid our debt and freed us from the bonds of sin, now compels us to follow Jesus in the Kingdom of God. There is no longer any condemnation to fear: Jesus has paid the price to free us (Rom. 8.1). We are alive in Him, abiding in the life-giving Vine that enables us to bear abiding fruit to the glory of God. When the holy God looks on us, He sees us clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He therefore welcomes us before His throne and into His Presence, where we may find grace to help in our times of need.

“‘Tis mystery all”! Were truer words ever written or sung? That the infinite, eternal, Son and Word of God should condescend to become one of us, show us the ways of grace, by grace cleanse us of every obstacle to abounding grace, and fit us by grace to follow Him through all the days of our lives!

Can it really be so? It is, and it is this very same Good News that we are sent to proclaim to the people in our Personal Mission Fields, by our singing and serving and testifying, letting them know that grace greater than all our sins – marvelous, free, and infinite grace – is available to release them from the bonds of sin and self into the light of truth and love that are in Christ Jesus.

For reflection
1. How is Jesus the very embodiment of God’s grace?

2. The Good News of God’s grace is at once unfathomable and yet easy for anyone to understand. Explain.

3. How can you see your own testimony of God’s saving grace in Charles Wesley’s hymn?

Next Steps – Transformation: Set aside time to sing the five stanzas of this great hymn today. As you do, think of how the grace of God has found and reached you, and give Him abundant thanks and praise.

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.

We hope you find ReVision to be a helpful resource in your walk with and work for the Lord. If so, please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. We ask the Lord to move and enable many more of our readers to provide for the needs of our ministry. Please seek Him in prayer concerning your part in supporting our work. You can contribute online via PayPal, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

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.