One of those hymns that gets stuck in my head and I sing over and over through the week is “Grace Greater than Our Sin,” by Julia Johnston and Daniel Towner. Towner’s catchy tune makes the song easy to remember, but the words are what lift my heart. It is grace that will “pardon and cleanse within;” it’s grace that is “greater than all our sin.”
Singing that hymn in church this morning struck my heart and made me really think about God’s grace and what an unfathomably marvelous thing it is. Grace, according to the Holman Bible Dictionary is “undeserved acceptance and love received from another…unmerited salvation…grace, favor, mercy….” It is this undeserved acceptance, this unmerited favor that offers us sinners, we people who’ve fallen far short of God’s perfect standard, salvation. Wow! As the Apostle Peter says, “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11).
The key, however, is that grace is undeserved. God doesn’t put qualifications on His grace for us. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by the free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus, not by works, so that we can’t boast about saving ourselves or earning our salvation.
Do you think you can earn God’s favor? Do you believe that you can go through your life and do good things—be nice, smile, give money to the poor, help little ladies cross the street, etc., etc.—and somehow do enough to be worthy of God’s love and salvation? How do you know when you’ve done enough good to outweigh the bad?
We can never know for certain that our good deeds stack higher than our bad. Praise God, He doesn’t use works as His measuring stick, for we could never measure up. Praise God that we are saved through His kindness—His grace— and not by good works, because if we could be saved by our good works, grace wouldn’t be what it is—free and undeserved (Romans 11:6).
And now, “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).