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 Amazing Grace

 

Dear Friends;

     John Newton (1725-1807) was the notorious sinner, slave trader who wrote this Hymn.  His trade was in the capture and sale of human beings for the purpose of turning them into indentured servants for the profit and benefit of others, and because of this he was a person that did terrible things but, the good news is that this is just the beginning of his story.  John Newton, as you probably know, becomes a follower of Jesus Christ, a preacher of the Gospel and a beloved hymn writer.  But, in between his slave trading days, his conversion, and the time in his life that he was transformed into a new man, he had a life that often reflects many of the struggles we all face.

     While on his father’s boat, he lived a continual life of constant rebellion and debauchery.  At a young age, he learned the worldly life of sex and physical torture that accompanied his father’s boat.  He made money by capturing, torturing and eventually selling human beings.  Somewhere inside, he knew what he was doing was profitable, but totally sinful and wretched.  What changed his life, after he had become the Captain of his own boat, was a near-death experience in the form of a shipwreck, at which time he began reading Thomas a Kempis’s book, “Imitation of Christ.” It was at this point he gave his life to Jesus Christ and his life was forever changed by the grace that only God can offer. Even though he continued as a slave trader while improving the conditions of the slaves of his ship, eventually he gave up slave trading as immoral and against the life to which he believed God was calling him.  Meanwhile, while marrying his long time sweetheart, Mary Catlett on February 12, 1750 and establishing a home and family with her, he felt the call to full-time ministry.  He continued to love Mary until her death in 1790.  John Newton became an ordained minister and set out to tell crowded audiences of his incredible conversion.  Many people came to Christ as a result of his ministry, as is true also of this, well known, and incredible hymn, and many more hymns he wrote with the help of his friend William Cowper.  “Amazing Grace,” for Newton, was, without question, based on I Chronicles 17:16&17, "The King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:  Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?  And as if this were not enough in your sight, O God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant.  You have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men, O Lord God..."

     Undoubtedly, both King David and John Newton knew the state of their soul and it’s complete depravity.  Grace had saved their lives and changed it to be used for the good of God and His kingdom.  King David’s and Newton’s life and message is the same today as it was in their day and that is that you and I are without hope except for the grace of God.  We are all sinners and, this grace that saved “David, Newton and you and me,” continues to saves us, even as we now live the Christian life.  Colossians 1:6 says, "All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth."

     Sometimes I wonder if those of us who are preaching God’s word and those of us who trying to follow it, really understand the meaning and power of grace.  I only have to think of my father, who believes so strongly in the message of this song that he states that, more than any other hymn, “Amazing Grace” best describes the story of his life.  What is equally important is that this is also the story of my life and, without exception, yours.  With the admission of your sinfulness and the resulting repentance, you can rejoice in the far reaches of God’s grace.  As King David stated above, grace not only saved his house, it exalted it and him, in spite of his sin!

     What saved King David, and John Newton’s life, is the same glory and freedom that has saved ours: Grace bringing salvation and humility.  In Ephesians 2:8 it says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…"  Grace brings humility and power to live this life. As we continue to accept this truth, we are free from past, present and future sins!  It is true, the “Gospel” really does mean, “Good News!!!

                        May God Bless you as you meditate on this truth!

                        Paul