The Bible tells the story of a holy God redeeming and adopting a rebellious people through the atoning sacrifice of His beloved Son. It shows that we were enemies and haters of God, justly facing His wrath and an eternity separated from Him, and it shows God gloriously loving us by giving His Son, Jesus Christ.
Paul doubtless had this story in mind when he wrote, “In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:5-6 ESV).
Through Jesus God saved us and adopted us into His family, making us His sons and daughters and giving us His eternal inheritance. The central feature in this story is God’s love, His far-reaching, unmerited grace to forgive His enemies and make them His own people. When we look at how He showed that love, we see Jesus Himself as the most clear image. Thus we see Jesus Himself is our God’s glorious grace.
“This Glorious Grace” is a confession of our deep need for that grace, our deep need for Jesus. The song begins and ends with the prayer, “God I need you, I need you, I need you,” a sober confession that without Him we have nothing—not salvation, not even breath to fill our lungs. We sing to God our need for Him because without His provision we are physically dead and without His work in our hearts we are spiritually dead.
Telling God we need Him expresses the truth that there is not one part of existence that does not fall under God’s absolute sovereignty, not even our own breath, our own fulfillment, or our own joy. The truth is we need Jesus in more ways than we can name. We need the Spirit to abide in us, create in us faith, counsel us, and comfort us with the true security of Jesus. We need Him to help us love Him and love one another. We need Him to give us our next breath. We need Him to be powerful in our weakness. We need Him to help us believe when doubts try to choke out truth. We need Him when we are afraid, alone, angry, jealous, or power-hungry.
Singing our need for Him rests upon the truth that we were made to praise. God created us with an orientation to tie up our hearts’ affections in Him, the supreme Person outside of ourselves who we could value, adore, and in whom we could find joy. While God Himself is the absolute highest value and ultimately the only one worthy of our worship, the sad truth is from the fall our hearts have been drawn to worship lesser gods that can’t fulfill us or bring us joy. Though they never wholly satisfy us, we spend our praise on things that are not God —ourselves, our spouses, our work, or any other created thing.
Through Jesus’s saving work, however, God washed us of our idol worship and sent His Holy Spirit to fill our hearts. He restored our worship from its tarnished longings and made us a people defined not by our sin but by His profound love. Thus we sing and give “all of [our] praise for this glorious grace.”
To be clear, when we sing this song it’s not solely on behalf of the collective church. We sing this song out of an individual need. God loves each of us and saves us and adopts us as individuals. He calls us by name and delights in our bringing our needs to Him as children. Thus we don’t approach Him with shame and fear but rather sing freely, “God I need You … I’m longing to see You … I worship You.”
Not only now but for all eternity we can stand as beloved, confident children and sing, “Glory to my God who saves, Jesus Christ, my glorious grace!”