When our heart is stirred to sing our Redeemer's praise we cannot help but think about His grace. What a wonderful subject for our song! Grace is a beautiful word. It is a word of comfort, of hope, of joy. By nature man is inclined to consider what he thinks he deserves, or what he thinks can earn by his best effort. The idea of the undeserving, the unworthy receiving abundant mercies is foreign to him.
Man in nature prays like the Pharisee: "I thank Thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers." He builds a case for himself. He may be willing to admit he is not perfect but feels to be superior to most against whom he compares himself. As he reviews his self-righteousness and boasts of his accomplishments, he is sometimes heard to say, "I'll take my chances, I think everything will be alright with me." But the man who has been subdued by grace prays, "God be merciful to me a sinner." He knows he is guilty, he has violated God's law, justice demands the penalty be meted out, his only hope is mercy. To such a man grace is indeed a charming sound.
But the question is asked, "How can all this be?" How can the guilty be pardoned? How can the beggar on the dunghill be elevated to a throne of glory? How can the enemy of God become His friend? There is but one answer - it is by the triumphs of His grace. It is because the great Redeemer paid the sin debt for those given to Him, it is because they are lifted up from the pit of iniquity by the power of His grace and by grace are reconciled and made a part of the family.
Grace is not a blessing of recent origin but was at work before the morning of time. Some suggest in those ages long ago that God looked down through time and saw some of Adam's race making the right decision and moving toward Him. But God reveals what He saw when he looked at us: "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:2-3). None good, not one! Apart from grace we are all lost.
But by grace God made choice of a people. It was by grace that He said I will be your God and you shall be my people. It was by grace that He elected and predestinated them. It was by grace that He said you will be conformed to the image of the Son. It was by grace that all the arrangements necessary to consummate this great purpose were put in place.
Human reasoning objects: "surely there must have been some foreseen merit involved." But there was none. "Surely it all must have been predicated on some action of free will." No, it was only free grace (Romans 9:16). "Surely the issue of fairness must have been taken into account." No, these chosen souls would not receive what they deserved, which was everlasting punishment; but what they did not deserve, eternal joy. Yes, grace was at work in the covenant before the foundation of the world.
Then in the fullness of time God sent His Son to earth to redeem those who were chosen. Certainly it was by grace that God gave His Son. John Bunyan beautifully describes this display of grace:
"O Thou Son of the Blessed! Grace stripped Thee of Thy glory; grace brought Thee down from heaven; grace made Thee bear such burdens of sin, such burdens of curse as are unspeakable; grace was in Thy heart; grace came bubbling from Thy bleeding side; grace was in Thy tears, grace was in Thy prayers; grace streamed from Thy thorn crowned brow! Grace came forth with the nails that pierced Thee, with the thorns that pricked Thee! Oh, here the unreachable riches of grace! Grace to make sinners happy! Grace to make angels wonder! Grace to make devils astonished!"
Oh, what grace is seen at the cross. His enemies vent their anger. All the powers of Hell are unleashed against the Savior. It appears that wicked men have conquered the promised Messiah. But grace was triumphant. In what seemed to be the darkest hour of history the greatest victory was won. Sin was put away, redemption was complete, His work was a success. Surely we delight to sing of the triumphs of His grace.
But although we see grace in the covenant and grace at the cross, grace is still required to open the sinner's heart. By grace the life-giving voice of the Son of God quickens the dead. By grace the rebel is made willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3). Grace is seen in all this mighty work. By grace repentance is granted and faith is given (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace breaks the hardest heart and makes the foulest sinner clean.
In the beloved hymn Amazing Grace, John Newton writes:
'Tis grace has bro't me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
What a glorious day that will be when the triumphs of His grace are so wonderfully displayed. People out of every nation under heaven with palms in their hands and with a loud voice saying, "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb" (Revelation 7:10). All glory goes to the Lamb that was slain. No boasts of good works or free will on that day. All who are there understand it was grace by which they were chosen, grace by which they were redeemed, grace by which they were called, and it is grace which has brought them home.
Think of it. A multitude which man could not number, singing the praises of Jesus Christ the Redeemer. Their battles are behind them, their troubles are over and their sorrows ended. Now in a glorified body with perfect voice they give praise for the triumphs of His grace.
Since that is the song of heaven may it be our song on earth. Let us with the tongue we have continually sing the triumphs of His grace!
“When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8).All Sermons by Lasserre Bradley, Jr.