Amazing Grace – Part I
One of the most popular hymns of all time‑among Christian denominations is “Amazing Grace” written by John Newton. The first line is, “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.”‑In the 21st Century, few people want to refer to themselves as‑”a wretch”.‑To the contrary, many have been taught‑that it is very important to “build their self-esteem” and‑”develop a positive self-image.”‑According to Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary a wretch is, “a miserable person; a worthless mortal; a person sunk in vice.” He then defines “wretched” as “despicable; hatefully vile and contemptible.”‑Was‑John Newton, a man who once mastered his own slave ship,‑wrong in his‑assessment of the condition of human beings apart from God’s “Amazing Grace?” If he was, how did‑his famous hymn become so extremely popular if it did not resonate the true condition of man in his unsaved condition?‑At the 2004 Republican Convention in New York City, Mr. Colmes of the‑Fox News Program, “Hannity and Colmes”, interviewed Charles Wrangle,‑a democratic congressman from New York. Speaking of President Bush’s faith, Mr. Wrangle said, “He says he’s nothing without Jesus‑Christ, but it’s going to take more than that.” He also criticized the President for‑depending on a consultation with his “Heavenly Father” before making a decision about going to war. Is it now unacceptable for a leader to acknowledge his utter dependence upon God‑in order to be a good leader?‑Obviously, there is a great need for a‑renewed understanding of God’s‑”Amazing Grace.”
First of all, what is grace?‑To say that God is gracious is to say that He is pleased to bestow favor upon undeserving sinners (Romans 5:6-8). If it were not for God’s grace, He would not have sent Jesus to‑die for our sins. If‑Jesus had not‑stood in our place to receive the‑punishment which we justly deserved for our sin, there would be no hope of ultimately being delivered from this world to live with Him in Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:21). Only the spotless Lamb of God‑could satisfy God’s wrath upon sin (Isaiah 53:6). God loves His people for Jesus’ sake.
The first verse in Newton’s hymn states that God’s grace saves wretches. How did‑we become wretched? Did God make us that way? The Bible clearly answers this question. At the end of the‑sixth day of creation, “…God saw everything that he had made, and, behold it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31a). He‑then told man that he could freely eat of every tree in the Garden of Eden except for the tree of the‑knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:16). However, man willfully disobeyed God’s command (Genesis 3:6). The consequences of man’s disobedience were great. In the New Testament we are taught that‑”…by one man’s sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12). Also, a few verses later it‑states that‑”…by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners…” (Romans 5:19).‑The wise man Solomon summed it up this way, “Lo, this only have I found, that God‑hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). If‑never touched by the saving power of God’s grace, man would remain in a truly miserable condition as described in the following verses: “…There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they together become‑unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10-12).
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