BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#690 - "Grace Wins" by Matthew West
Matthew West explains why this powerful grace-focused song is the follow-up to previous hit "Hello, My Name Is."
 



Matthew West's 2015 album Live Forever includes 11 new tracks inspired by digging deeper into more than 40,000 stories shared with him from people all over the world. Six years and three albums later, these stories have had a profound ripple effect, beginning with 2010's The Story of Your Life then continuing through Into the Light in 2012. 

From West's trilogy of story-inspired albums, I've previously spoken with Matthew about "My Own Little World," "Strong Enough," "Forgiveness," "Do Something" and "Day One" for behind the song devotionals. I had the chance to speak with Matthew in-person at Winter Jam in Reading, Pennsylvania about "Grace Wins."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song. 

A huge part of my creative process has been based on the stories of people's lives. Songwriting is storytelling. I've collected over 40,000 stories at this point. All the songs that I've been writing over the last several years were inspired by somebody's personal story. Of these songs, two have stood out to me because the stories that pushed me to write them are so intertwined: "Hello, My Name Is" and "Grace Wins." "Hello My Name Is" was inspired by a young guy named Jordan who wrote to me and said, "Hello My Name Is Jordan, and I'm a drug addict." Jordan's story was ultimately a redemption story because he decided not to live his life as an addict, but to go get the help he needed to overcome his addiction. I then sang "Hello, My Name Is" on tour, sharing Jordan's story with thousands and thousands of people at concerts all around the country. When I got home, I found another hard-hitting letter from a fan that would become the inspiration for "Grace Wins," which is a song about rising from defeat and believing you can overcome anything negative that's happened in your life. This letter came from a young man named Robert.

He said, "My name's Robert. I was at your concert, and you sang a song and told a story about somebody battling addiction and it hit my heart because I'm just like that. I want to be a child of the One True King and can you help me?" Turns out this young man was addicted to heroin and he wound up at my concert sort of by accident, but all of a sudden something touched his heart and he decided he was going to reach out for help as he hadn't found redemption yet. He was still in the defeat of his addiction. My dad is a minister, and together we were able to get on the phone with this young man and get him into the same recovery program that the other guy graduated from. That's what made me write the song "Grace Wins."

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

2 Thessalonians 1:12 (NIV): Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with Him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT): So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Romans 3:24-26 (NLV): Anyone can be made right with God by the free gift of His loving-favor. It is Jesus Christ Who bought them with His blood and made them free from their sins. God gave Jesus Christ to the world. Men's sins can be forgiven through the blood of Christ when they put their trust in Him. God gave His Son Jesus Christ to show how right He is. Before this, God did not look on the sins that were done. But now God proves that He is right in saving men from sin. He shows that He is the One Who has no sin. God makes anyone right with Himself who puts his trust in Jesus.

What is the takeaway message?

This song is a chain reaction story, and is really part two of "Hello, My Name Is." Jordan told me his story, and Robert heard Jordan's story and got the help he needed. The line in the song "I'm living proof that grace wins every time" sums up what I thought was so incredible about the connection between these songs. Quite simply, it means I'm living proof that second chances exist, and both of the men who these songs are based on perfectly embody that idea. All because this one person wrote to me and told his story, now there's another person who's finding hope in his life and his battle for recovery. 

The message that I hope to share with people is that if we were perfect, there would be no need for grace. Grace goes hand in hand with imperfection or flaws. I grew up going to church my whole life, and we unrealistically place pressure on ourselves to live a perfect life. There is only One who lived a perfect life, and He is the One who gave His life so we imperfect people could find grace in the hope of a new beginning. The big message is that the goal is not perfection, the goal is that we are to be made proof of a perfect God. When you say "I'm living proof that grace wins every time," you are saying "I'm far from perfect, but let me tell you about God who is perfect. He's the One who changed my life, and He's the reason I can sing about grace."

My hope through the songs I sing, the stories I tell and now this organization that we've started is just to help empower people to discover how their story could actually change the world. I really read the stories that come in. Stories can outlast a sermon and outlast music. When you look at Scripture, the focus is story. That's how Jesus preached to the masses.

Lyrics:
In my weakest moment I see You
Shaking Your head in disgrace 
I can read the disappointment 
Written all over Your face

Here come those whispers in my ear 
Saying, "who do you think you are?"
Looks like you're on your own from here 
'Cause grace could never reach that far 

But in the shadow of that shame
Beat down by all the blame
I hear You call my name saying it's not over 
And my heart starts to beat so loud now 
Drowning out the doubt
I'm down, but I'm not out 

There's a war between guilt and grace 
And they're fighting for a sacred space 
But I'm living proof 
Grace wins every time
No more lying down in death's defeat 
Now I'm rising up in victory 
Singing, hallelujah
Grace wins every time

Words can't describe the way it feels 
When mercy floods a thirsty soul 
The broke inside begins to heal 
And grace returns what guilty stole

And in the shadow of that shame
Beat down by all the blame
I hear You call my name saying it's not over 
And my heart starts to beat so loud now 
Drowning out the doubt
I'm down, but I'm not out 

There's a war between guilt and grace 
And they're fighting for a sacred space 
But I'm living proof 
Grace wins every time
No more lying down in death's defeat
Now I'm rising up in victory 
Singing, hallelujah

Grace wins every time

For the prodigal son
Grace wins
For the woman at the well 
Grace wins
For the blind man and the beggar 
Grace wins
For always and forever 
Grace wins 
For the lost out on the streets 
Grace wins
For the worst part of you and me 
Grace wins
For the thief on the cross 
Grace wins
For a world that is lost 

There's a war between guilt and grace 
And they're fighting for a sacred space 
But I'm living proof 
Grace wins every time
No more lying down in death's defeat 
Now I'm rising up in victory 
Singing, hallelujah
Grace wins every time, every time 
Yeah, I'm living proof 
Grace wins every time


My behind the song ministry started in 2008. I featured Matthew's song "The Motions" as song #41 in the series, which perfectly aligns with Matthew's music ministry these past 7 years. We are both telling the stories and Scripture connected to these songs of faith. "Grace Wins" is my seventh song discussion with Matthew, and this is song #690 in the series. I've had the privilege to share weekly about God's unconditional mercy and grace. 

God's mercy and grace is new each day, and it is not based on our performance or what we can do for God. He pours out His mercy despite what we've done. There's nothing we can do except trust in His Son Jesus. This song does an excellent job of explaining what grace is all about. My pastor uses the acronym "God's Riches at Christ's Expense" to define grace.

When you sing this song, the devotional thought we should all be thinking is whether we are submitting our lives to the Truth or just singing the words. God wants us to boldly approach the Throne of mercy and grace to receive and obtain what we need from Him. When we acknowledge our identity in Christ in this song, our burdens are removed. I can't get enough of the beautifully poetic and powerful expressions of faith in this song. The beauty of grace is that we get another chance.

We can lift up our hands in confidence to God and know that His mercy is unfailing. His love is never-ending. He is our refuge and our strength. God's ultimate will is not to bring affliction upon people, but to restore us so that we may experience His unfailing love. There are several lyrics that really speak to me, in particular: "there's a war between guilt and grace, and they're fighting for a sacred space, but I'm living proof, grace wins every time." Amen to that!

Watch the music video below.

 

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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