I wrote ‘This Is Grace’ after realising that for the past few months, I’ve been going around encouraging believers in our churches to write their own songs and hadn’t until now written one myself. This blog is a detailed line by line self-analysis of my lyrics for ‘This Is Grace’.
The first line of the song is “Lord I used to think that I was strong, I thought that I could make it on my own”. I begin by addressing God as ‘Lord’; an expression of relationship and importantly submission to him. I am establishing God is now my Lord, having previously believed—like all other unbelievers—that one way or another I was in control and my life was all about me. I could make it myself and in my former blind and foolish state I didn’t need God, a relationship with him, and I certainly didn’t want to submit and acknowledge him as Lord.
“I have wasted time chasing after dreams, blindly trying to find my own way home” There is a deep emptiness in our heart before we’re saved, the sinful life we’re all born into becomes all about desperately filling that void with anything that might possibly satisfy, anything that gives us meaning of any kind. Family, friends, kids, money, sex, health, drink, career—these are all things we place in our lives to try to distract us from our emptiness, but they’re all meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 1:1–11)
“In your anger God remember mercy, You are Holy, I’m a guilty man” The only way to become a Christian is when we are confronted with God’s holiness and our unworthiness. So often today, Christians seem to like to try and gloss over God’s righteous anger at us and our sinfulness. Let’s be clear: God cannot stand us in our natural state. God is good, almighty, and perfect in all his ways. He is righteous. We are vile, wretched sinners, deserving of judgement and separation from God for all eternity. The only possible response when our eyes are opened to reveal such a perilous state is the following line, to fall on our knees and cry out to God in repentance. The wonderful truth that follows is that God then reaches out and welcomes us. “I’m on my knees, repenting of my sin, Your arms reached out and I was welcomed in.”
“This is Grace, undeserved, Grace is free” Already in the first verse alone there is a demonstration, a mark of grace in my own life. I once saw myself as a self-reliant man, driven by my own agenda, but God revealed to me his holiness and his anger at my rebellion. But the hope that is found in repentance, in facing up to my sin, and then the glorious truth that when God’s holiness and my weakness light up my unworthiness, the result is God’s arms reaching out and welcoming us in to a relationship with him. All of this is undeserved and free—I brought nothing to the table. Instead of once believing I was strong, I now know I am weak and contribute nothing to my salvation. “Amazing Grace, I don’t deserve, given to me”—Grace is amazing, and grace is a gift.
But how is it that God is able to welcome me in, to show me grace? He is holy and I am wretched. Grace is freely available to sinners like me, but it comes at a great cost. This question raised in verse 1 is addressed in verse 2
The gospel is this: that “Jesus paid in full for my forgiveness, He was beaten mocked and hung upon a tree” he did it willingly, knowing I was powerless to do anything, and he paid in full. The cross is a finished work. “Willingly He took my shame upon him, The King of Kings crucified instead of me” This is perhaps one of the most poignant lines of this song. This line is relatively easy to write down and sing, but to comprehend the enormity of it is eternally beyond our comprehension. Jesus, God’s only son—fully God, fully man, the King of Kings paying the price, bearing my shame instead of me. “But the chains of Hell had no power to hold him, And on the third day Jesus rose again”. The gospel is complete, it is finished. The victory has been won over death. Jesus really did rise again, and now he sits, praying continuously for us, at his Father’s right hand in heaven. “Now he sits in power and victory, He’s alive and he offers life for free”. Jesus died on that cross for the sins of all who believe and turn to him in repentance and faith. “To all who will believe...” This final lyric of verse 2, which takes us to the instrumental section, is my direct appeal to you all reading this blog or listening to the song who remain blind in your sin to be convinced. It’s an expectant prayer, a persuasive provocation for you to respond to this gospel—it is my only hope, it is your only hope.
Instrumental and Bridge Section
To be truly saved and forgiven from your sin prompts worship. The bridge section is a simple cry of praise to my Saviour for all that he has done for me, transforming my wretchedness and restoring my brokenness from darkness into true peace and joy. “Hallelujah Jesus saved my soul, Hallelujah Jesus made me whole”. Sin no longer rules my heart, my affections. Jesus’ death has brought me life. “Sin has lost its grip on me, Jesus is the reason that I’m free.”
Verse 3 now turns attention to my new life in Christ, after my rescue and complete heart transformation and with it an acknowledgement of my reliance on God’s strength “Give me strength for every passing day, For when temptation comes to me again” Life doesn’t get easier when we’re saved, in many ways life gets harder. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus says:
“take up your cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
The devil, who was once our master, now hates us and seeks to destroy us and our witness. Sin has lost its grip on the believer, the devil is no longer their master. However, all the lusts, trials, and temptations continue, and we need God’s strength every minute of every day. God gives us that strength though, acknowledged in the next line “When I’m in the middle of the storm, You are there, guiding me on”. Another mark of a true Christian is his desire to serve God. Our lives before being saved are all about honouring ourselves, finding fulfilment in living with our own agendas. This next line is a statement of intent and genuine desire for the Christian, again acknowledging his need of God to be able to do so. “Lord help me live a life that honours you, Abide with me, do not let me go”. The verse ends by stating my desire to be made more like Jesus and a desire that my family, friends, and neighbours might see the gospel displayed through grace in my life that they too might be saved. “Finish what you’ve started in me, change me that the whole world will see”.
The result of everything in this song culminates in a final repeated acknowledgement of the simple yet profound truth which is: “That this is Grace, undeserved, Grace is free, Amazing Grace, I don’t deserve, given to me”.
The band for this video features: Vocals – Cara Mairi Bell, Piano – Carlie Fenne, Guitar – Pete Bell, Bass – David Biddulph, Drums – Sol Fenne.
Lord I used to think that I was strong,
I thought that I could make it on my own
I have wasted time chasing after dreams,
Blindly trying to find my own way home
In your anger God remember mercy,
You are Holy, I’m the guilty one
I’m on my knees, repenting of my sin,
Your arms reached out and I was welcomed in
‘This is Grace, undeserved, Grace is free’
Amazing Grace, I don’t deserve, given to me
Jesus paid in full for my forgiveness,
He was beaten mocked and hung upon a tree
Willingly He took my shame upon him,
The King of Kings crucified instead of me
But the chains of Hell had no power to hold him,
And on the third day Jesus rose again
Now he sits in power and victory,
He’s alive and he offers life for free.
To all who will believe…
INSTRUMENTAL & BRIDGE
Hallelujah Jesus saved my soul,
Hallelujah Jesus made me whole
Sin has lost its grip on me,
Jesus is the reason that I’m free
Give me strength for every passing day,
For when temptation comes to me again
When I’m in the middle of the storm,
You are there, guiding me on
Lord help me live a life that honours you,
Abide with me, do not let me fall (go)
Finish what you’ve started in me,
Change me that the whole world will see
That this is Grace, undeserved, Grace is free
Amazing Grace, I don’t deserve, given to me.