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#846 - "Glory to Our Great Redeemer" by Todd Agnew
Todd Agnew expands on the theological foundation of this brand new song.

Posted: August 07, 2017 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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Todd Agnew recently released the anthology collection From Grace to Glory. The tracklist includes several of his well-known songs, including "Our Great God" featuring Rebecca St. James, "My Jesus," "This Fragile Breath" and "Grace Like Rain," along with two new tracks. 

Todd has long been one of my favorite artists, and I've previously spoken with him about "Still Has a Hold," "Joy Unspeakable," "I Need No Other" and "God Undefeatable." It is great to hear the return of Todd with some more biblically-based songs that move you emotionally and cause you to contemplate your faith. I had the chance to speak with Todd about his new song, "Glory to Our Great Redeemer."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

Whenever you're writing songs, you have great intentions to write something profound, and you end up writing up about what you are going through at the time. That's the story of life. It's interesting to do a project like this; we've been telling the stories of these songs on this collection. 

For this song, theologically you can take and wrestle with it. It's a song about what happened at the cross. What is this salvation that has been given to us? The story of writing the song is a really long story. It goes back to me growing up and loving the story of the cross. This song goes back to some of my first bus tours, and we got to sit and read when someone else was driving. I was reading a book while traveling somewhere, and the author asked the question "why do we use so many different metaphors for what happened at the cross? Why do we say we are forgiven, adopted, pardoned, redeemed, rescued and ransomed? Those are all different things. Which one really happened, and why do we use the rest of those words?" 

I remember reading that and feeling uncomfortable, not for asking the question, but for not knowing the answer. I've grown up in strong Bible teaching churches, and I know my Savior, but I didn't know that answer. Which one of those words describes what happened? In the next town I thought about it again and went on in ministry. 

About two years ago, I wrote the beginning of this song with four hymn-like lines: "glory to our great Redeemer, spotless Lamb for sinners slain, my pardoned purchased, my ransom paid, glory, glory to His name." I liked it, and all of a sudden I locked up and realized that I used four metaphors for salvation in that one line. I kind of panicked. I still didn't know the answer to that question. I put the song aside because theology has always been important to me, and I didn't want to write something because it rhymed or it was church language. 

One thing that has changed in my life is that I am finishing up my Master's Degree at Dallas Theological Seminary, and I'm writing my thesis this fall. As a part of my degree, I took a course on the doctrine of salvation and studied this idea. My professor assigned us a list of passages to study and write about. I realized that we use all these metaphors for what happened at the cross because God uses all of these metaphors. This isn't humans coming up with a cool new way to explain it. This is God taking care of the sin problem for all people for all time, and what He did is too big for one of our little metaphors to describe.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Hebrews 10:10-14 (HCSB): "By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. He is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified."

Romans 8:18 (NKJV): "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

Romans 8:31 (NKJV): "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV): "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (NKJV): "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting?'"

What is the takeaway message?

I think God, in His desire for us to have access to His truth and His desire to help us begin to understand the richness of our salvation, He describes it over and over in all these different ways. Galatians says He redeemed us to receive adoption as His daughters and sons. In 1st Corinthians, it says we were washed and justified and sanctified by the blood of Christ. In Romans, it says we were reconciled and saved. In 1st Peter, it says we were born again through a living hope, to an inheritance. 

When we look at these things we realize that these aren't the same things, they are different, but the reality is that salvation is bigger than all of these concepts. Salvation is larger than any of our vocabulary terms. I think God as an artist paints it with a different brush each time, adding to its richness and our understanding of it--many times adding a way that we can understand it better. There's a richness in how God expresses our redemption and what He did to cause it. 

Once I understood that these words are all from the Bible and we didn't make them up, I had a lot more freedom to go back and finish this song, and it all came together. I worked with friends to make sure it was sing-able, and checked the theology of the song. I want the song to be for believers to glorify their Redeemer and to describe it in these ways. I want to make songs available to the church if they need it. I love worship songs that dig into theology. For this song, I hope people can use it to thank God for what He's done for them.

Glory to our great redeemer
Spotless lamb for sinners slain
My pardoned purchase my ransom paid
Glory glory to His name

Glory to our great redeemer
Died my death that I might live
Such costly grace He so freely gives
Glory glory to His name

Glory to our perfect sacrifice
A lamb whose blood covered my shame
Wrath of God poured out and satisfied
Glory glory to His name

Glory to our great redeemer
Once an enemy now reconciled
The stranger loved us an adopted child
Glory glory to His name

Glory to our perfect sacrifice
A lamb whose blood covered my shame
Wrath of God poured out and satisfied
Glory glory to His name

Glory to our great redeemer
Conquered of death and hell
He was resurrected raising me as well
Glory glory to His name

Glory to our perfect sacrifice
A lamb whose blood covered my shame
Wrath of God poured out and satisfied
Glory glory to His name

Glory to our perfect sacrifice
A lamb whose blood covered my shame
Wrath of God poured out and satisfied
Glory glory to His name
Glory Glory to His name

Todd is the perfect vocalist to bring out the strong message of the song. God's plan for salvation is Jesus plus nothing. It is fitting that I spoke with Todd Agnew about this new modern hymn since most of us were introduced to Todd by his re-write of the classic hymn "Amazing Grace" (his hit "Grace Like Rain"). Todd pours himself and his ministry into his transparent lyrics, consistently writing biblical songs that both challenge and uplift me to give my heart to Jesus.

The song is an emotive and poetic picture of what Jesus did for us. As Christians, we all have a reason to reflect on God's holy and perfect sacrifice of His son Jesus. He died for us, so that in Him we might know God's righteousness. We can't earn grace, and we can't do anything to gain life other than accept Jesus. What if we lived as though we believe the sincere words of this song? Jesus loves us so much that He came down and took our punishment so that we can be with Him forever. 

We can rest on Hebrews 10:10 (NKJV): "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Know that our Redeemer has saved us from death, forever. No matter where you are in your walk with Jesus, this song is a salvation message that helps us remember that Jesus came to die, defeated death and rose again to set us free.
There is nothing we have been given that is more valuable than our salvation. This song moves me to reflect on just how much Jesus endured for His bride to purchase us from the grave. This is one of my favorite songs of the year. I love when artists take the truth of God's Word from the Bible and turn it into a catchy song that also makes me think. If God is for us, who can be against us? What can separate us from His love? We have been delivered once for all. I sing this song to God with all of my heart in gratefulness: "Glory to our great Redeemer, died my death that I might live, such costly grace He so freely gives, glory, glory to His name." Amen to that!

Watch the lyric 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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