7th July 2023

Some Christians have a favourite verse of scripture that essentially captures what their faith means to them. For me it’s not something scriptural, but two lines of a hymn: ‘O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!’ The hymn is Robert Robinson’s ‘Come Thou fount of every blessing’, dropped sadly (to my mind, at least) from our Baptist usage when Baptist Praise and Worship replaced the Baptist Hymn Book. It appears still in Complete Mission Praise, but unfortunately in a slightly modernised and therefore inevitably inferior version. I’m all for people understanding what they’re singing, but please find a way of doing it without ruining the author’s original poetry and rhythm!

But let’s get back to grace. I’ve never been a great one for carrying burdens of guilt – which, admittedly, may well explain a lot about me – but being held secure in the mercy, pardon, patience and constant love of God, despite my frequent stupidity and waywardness, means absolutely everything. This can’t be an excuse not to seek to avoid sin or to live the best life possible in whatever circumstances I find myself, but it does mean that if and when we fall short, it’s not God’s anger or condemnation that confronts us, but his understanding, compassion and renewing power.

The hymn I’ve quoted is at turns a confession of faith, a personal testimony about God’s faithful presence, a longing to live more closely with Him, but throughout the tone is one of deepest gratitude for the outworking of divine grace in the believer’s daily experience. Praise be for the sheer wonder of God’s undeserved grace towards us!

Ken Stewart