Welcome back to Pastor Jules' Song Corner, where I, Pastor Jules, take a look at one song that's been stuck in my head, an old favorite, or a song we'll be doing on Sunday (and on some lucky weeks, maybe the song will be all three).
This week, we're looking at a song that is both a favorite of mine, and one that we'll be doing this very Sunday! It is called "Grace Alone," and is by Dustin Kensrue/The Modern Post, which was Kensrue's band while he was Worship Pastor at Mars Hill Church. It can be found on The Modern Post's album "The Water & The Blood," and The Modern Post's EP, also called "Grace Alone." King's Kaleidescope also has a fantastic cover of the song on their album, "Becoming Who We Are."
This song's primary focus, as you may have been able to tell from its title, is the sufficiency of grace, and our deficiency in being able to save ourselves. More brilliantly however, the three verses and choruses of the song are not-so subtly focused on a different member of the Trinity, and their individual roles in salvation. The whole song is deeply soaked in Scripture (so much so that this post will only scratch the surface as to the Scripture references contained within) and has some incredibly well thought out soteriology and trinitarian theology baked into it.
The first verse focuses on God the Father. The song speaks to how God the Father predestined our salvation at the same time as he laid the world's foundation. It speaks to our newfound identity in Christ--we are now called children of God, as we now share in the inheritance of the Son. This first verse is heavily influenced by Ephesians 1, just read these excerpts from that chapter while listening to the first verse of the song: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory."
Of course, at the heart of this new identity, of this inheritance we will/have received, is the grace that the Father has richly lavished upon us. Grace provided to us in love, and through the sacrifice of the Son, atoning for our sins with His blood. And that is what the second verse is about.
The second verse begin by saying "You left Your home to seek out the lost/You knew the great and terrible cost." These lines are allusions to Paul's great Christ Hymn of Philippians 2, "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Our salvation came through Christ having the humility to take on the form of a man, with all of our weaknesses, and eventually, dying upon a cross. But more hopefully, the second chorus declares "And You rose that I might be a new creation!" The inheritance that the song spoke of earlier is revealed in this verse, that we are, as Romans 6 says, dead to sin, and alive in Christ, "For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
Finally, the last verse and chorus speaks of the Holy Spirit's transforming work in our lives today. The song describes our inability to fight back against sin, and our hopeless state before the Spirit moves within us, sealing us with Christ. The song states that we had "A head full of rocks, a heart made of stone," which alludes to the promise of YHWH to the prophet Ezekiel, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Our idol factory hearts of stone are replaced with new hearts of flesh, He has called to us and said "Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead."
Our hopeless and helpless state is now brought into glorious new life, not by anything that we have done or accomplished, because that will never be enough. There is nothing we can do to raise ourselves from the death of sin: only the grace provided to us from our Father, through the sacrifice of the Son, and the influence of the Spirit. Thanks to His grace, we can run the race with endurance, and we can put our sin to death, and be raised to new life.