By Pastor Phil Brewster
“The law tells me how crooked I am – Grace comes along and straightens me out.”
Dwight L. Moody
That is the amazing thing about GRACE. Did you know that grace is more than a gift? If all we ever taught is that grace just saves you, then we would operate in incomplete grace. Have you ever truly meditated on the song ‘Amazing Grace?’ you will find that it describes a transformation of a person in great need of help. Yes, God saved a wretch like me – but then he took what was lost and brought a whole new way of life. That life was blind but now sees.
There has been a lot of speculation behind this song, and one is that slaves sang this song.(Bill Moyer’s special on “Amazing Grace) I believe this song was the definition of John Newton’s life itself, because when you look at the date that Newton was captain of a certain slave ship (May, 1748) that was in a terrible storm, where he says it was his “great deliverance,” and the time he compose this song, (Sometime between 1760-1770) you will find a timeline of events and a man that was greatly transformed from who he was.
In Newton's biography it tells us that he had given up on any religious convictions before he became a slave ship captain. But that night in that terrible storm, he and his slaves were given Amazing Grace. From that time forward grace changed John Newton’s life.
After that stormy night Newton continued in the slave trade, and was now known for treating his slaves better than other slave ships. He was married in 1750 and fought through serious illness that took him out of sailing altogether. Newton became a disciple under George Whitefield, (G.W. was a deacon at the Church of England.) He became good friends with John Wesley (Founder of Methodism) and he learned both Hebrew and Greek. Then he was ordained for ministry by a Bishop Lincoln.
Do you see Grace straightening him out? Yes, it saved a wretch, but it is also transforming a man.
“For the GRACE of God that bringeth salvation (saves a wretch like me) hath appeared to all men, teaching us (Transforming Grace) that denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and glorious appearance of the great GOD (Completing Grace) and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from iniquity, (Amazing Grace) and purify unto himself (Redeeming Grace) a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Unselfish Grace)
Then in the 1770’s he wrote hymns of which are the likes of “Glorious things of thee are spoken” and “Amazing Grace.”
Then sometime after 1780 God moved on John Newton’s heart and gave him a vision to run with. He joined up with people like William Wilberforce to help abolish slavery.
At the last year of John Newton’s life he was blind (I believe he just could see a little different.) but it never stopped him from proclaiming the gospel. He died in 1807. Amazing Grace took him home.
That’s COMPLETE GRACE!