March 16, 2012

Sinner and Savior

Romans 5:12-21

Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
—Romans 5:20


The film Amazing Grace masterfully portrays the long campaign of William Wilberforce (1759-1833) to abolish the slave trade throughout the British Empire. When Wilberforce seeks counsel from converted slave trader John Newton, Newton summarizes his life, my life, and the gospel in one sentence: “I am a great sinner; Christ is a great Savior.”

These are surely the most important ten words any of us could say—unless we might alter them slightly to read, “I am a great sinner; Christ is a greater Savior.” Five words of repentance, five of redemption. Humility and hope in one sentence. The words echo those of Newton’s own hymn: “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

Another hymn celebrating grace puts it this way: “Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin.”

And Paul, the apostle who celebrates salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), writes eloquently, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”

Someone has said, “You cannot out-sin the grace of God.” God forbid that anyone should try (see Romans 6:1-2), but it is so. “I am a great sinner; Christ is a greater Savior.”

Lent is a good time to fall in grateful repentance before our great and only Savior.

Father, in this season we thankfully confess with believers past and present, “I am a great sinner; Christ is a greater Savior.” Through Jesus Christ our hope, Amen.

About the author — Dale Vander Veen

Dale Vander Veen is a retired Christian Reformed pastor who with his wife, Edith, has ministered in California, Washington, and Michigan. They have three married children and six grandchildren. He currently writes a daily e-mail series of devotions.

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