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Amazing Grace

Today I wanted to share with you about grace. When we hear the word we often think of the hymn “Amazing Grace”. Do you know the story behind this great old hymn? Whether you do or not please read on to learn or be reminded about God and His “Amazing Grace”.

It is the month of July in the year 1732. A young boy just 13 days shy of his 7th birthday loses his mother to death. Later he would write that almost her entire life had been to care for his education. By the age of 3, she had taught him English. By the age of 4, he could read most books. His memory was filled with valuable pieces, chapters, and portions of scripture, hymns, and poems.”

With only 3 years of formal education, the young boy goes to sea with his father, the captain of a merchant ship. From that day forward, he declines into a life of rebellion and degeneration. Until his 24th birthday, his life was one of absolute disregard for anything right and holy. His life was plagued with despair, danger, abuse, destitution, and depression. He almost drowns on several occasions but for miraculous escapes, he would have lost his life.

While still a youth he captained a slave ship. It was reported that he was so wretched and vile that even his crew regarded him as nothing more than an animal. Once he fell overboard and the crew refused to drop him a boat. However, they did throw a harpoon at him and dragged him back to the ship.

Another experience caused the young man to consider his standing before God. At sea, for several months the ship encountered a violent storm. The ship was in danger of sinking and the crew tied themselves to the ship so as not to be swept into the sea. 4 weeks passed with much despair. Waking hours were spent pumping water from the ship to keep it from sinking. Rations were low and starvation was imminent. Finally, they reached a port in Ireland.

For John Newton, now a sincere effort to become right with God would begin. Sometime later at age 23, Newton finds himself on a small island off the coast of Africa. Sick, with a fever, miserable, and listless he wrote: “Weak and almost delirious I arose from my bed and crept to a secluded part of the island; there I found a renewed liberty to pray. I made no more resolves but cast myself before the Lord to do with me as He should please. I was enabled with hope and belief in a crucified Savior. The burden was removed from my conscience.” John Newton’s autobiography tells us that he began to improve both physically and spiritually from that very hour.

Can anything separate us from the love Christ has for us? Does God really love us forever? We want to know how does God feels about me when I act like a jerk. When you snap at everyone, and your thoughts are gutter-level, how does He feel then? That’s the question: Can you drift too far? Wait too long? Slip too much? Did you out-sin the love of God? The answers are found in one of life’s sweetest words-Grace. The Bible tells us there are 4 things that cause lives to change, and today they can cause a change in yours.

Recognize you are a sinner. In Romans 3:23 Paul tells us For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Previously in verse 10, he said as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one.

Understand that as a sinner you cannot save yourself from the eternal punishment of hell.

In Romans 6:23 we read that …the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The writer in Hebrews 9:27 tells us just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment—

So you know you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself so now what? Well, you need to know that Christ has paid for your sins with His death on the cross. Scripture says that God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! These are Paul’s words recorded in Romans 5:8.

My favorite verse in the Bible is John 3:16 and you probably all know it but it is always good to hear God’s Word especially when they are the words of His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. So how did God achieve the expression of this love to man? In Christ crucifixion which you must accept as the payment for your sins.

John’s Gospel is such a powerful place to see and read about the love of God and His grace. In the wonderful prologue of the Gospel in John 1:12 we see that …to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,

In 1807 at the age of 82, John Newton died. He had married his teenage sweetheart at the age of 25. For the next 14 years, he had studied for the ministry. At 39 he became a pastor in Olney, England.

In 1779 he published a hymnal “The Olney Hymns” which included 281 of his own works. His most famous work is Amazing Grace and this is what he said about that Amazing Grace-

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear; and grace my fears relieved.

How precious did that grace appear; the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come.

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

Newton himself wrote the epithet for his gravestone which he gave to others before his death and it reads.

John Newton, clerk,

once an infidel and libertine,

a servant of slaves in Africa,

was by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

preserved, restored, pardoned,

and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.

A thought to ponder

Elbert Nasworthy

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