Thursday, November 09, 2023

What if life could be different for you?

All photos used by courtesy of Unsplash 

One of the most famous hymns must be “Amazing Grace” written by John Newton in 1772. It has been covered by dozens of famous singers over the years and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies, no doubt making many rich in the process.

Of far more value than all the riches it has made, is the richness of meaning within its words. It starts “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”

Grace is a wonderful word, it is the counter balance to mercy. Mercy is when we do not get what we deserve. Ephesians 2 states, that God is rich in mercy. God’s mercy means that we do not have to face the consequence of our sin, we can rest on God’s mercy and forgiveness. Just a few verses later we read of the exceeding riches of God’s grace.

Grace of course is when we receive something that we do not deserve. As a child I was a good boy, however not perfect, and if you chatted with my parents, I am sure they would be able to recall times when I disobeyed them. At the time I thought life was tough for me as both my parents were headteachers, I did not really ever get away with anything. If I ever requested something, the reply always came, ‘We’ll see!’

Yet despite this I knew their grace, I cannot recall a single birthday or Christmas time when the gift was disappointing, I received their grace.
God’s grace is far superior! He did not give us a gift as a token of His love or something as a tiny percentage of His great wealth. He gave a gift of gigantic proportions. He gave His perfect Son for us. He gave the very best He had.
John Newton realised this, he penned in his hymn, ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.’

The next line however makes the first one so much more astounding, John Newton wrote, ‘that saved a wretch like me!’
No one would like to be called wretched, yet the Apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans about himself, ‘O wretched man that I am!’

The Apostle Paul, wrote under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, many of the books of the New Testament, he did many wonderful things for God and suffered much in bringing the message of the Gospel to many. Surely if there was anyone who could have claimed to be good, Paul must have been right up there. In the book of Romans, he is thinking about how he wants to do good, but how that he, like us all, constantly battles sin.

John Newton had been a slave trader and even his shipmates were often astounded at the depths of depravity to which he could sink. Yet one day on his breaking ship in a storm he found himself praying to the God that he had so often blasphemed the name of.

Suddenly John Newton was pleading for his life, that day his life was spared, and John Newton found amazing grace. Not only was his life saved, his soul was saved too. John Newton received something that He did not deserve, he did not deserve Jesus Christ as Saviour. He did not deserve God’s forgiveness. He did not deserve God’s love. Yet he received all these things by admitting that he was lost in his sin, he wrote, ‘I once was lost, but now am found!’

The reality for John Newton and anyone that turns to God in their sin is that they will be saved from their sins and the punishment of them for all eternity, no wonder he could write, ‘How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed!’

In God’s amazing grace, not only are we saved from sin by believing in Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us on the cross, but we are saved to Heaven.  John Newton wrote some lines about eternity that deserve to be read, reread and pondered.

‘When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing His praise,
Than when we first began!’
What wonderful mercy God has shown us, in giving us a way to escape the punishment for sin, but what amazing grace He has shown to us by giving us the means of Salvation, His Son Jesus Christ to pay such a huge price upon the cross.

Used by permission of Your 542Day. Written by Stuart Scammell for Messages with Meaning

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