“Amazing Grace” was written by English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807) and was published in 1779. It is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction but his life’s path was formed by a variety of twists and turns that were often caused by his own rebellious insubordination. He was pressed into the Royal Navy and became a sailor, eventually participating in the slave trade. Towards the end of his sailing career he was a slave ship captain. One night a terrible storm battered his vessel so severely that he became frightened enough to call out to God for mercy, a moment that marked the beginning of his spiritual conversion.
Do you know this amazing grace that Newton wrote about? In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he reminded them of God’s amazing grace. We can understand why God’s grace is so amazing.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageGood morning, church! We’re starting a new series today entitled, “HYMNS: Singing Praises To Our God.” Our theme verse for this series is found in Psalm 40:3 (NLT) “He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” In this series, we’re going to be looking at a different classic hymn each Sunday and then “unpacking” a little bit of the story about how it was written. More importantly, we will be looking at the scripture to see what inspired the hymn writer.
Today, we’re going to kick off the series with the classic hymn, “Amazing Grace.” “Amazing Grace” was written by a man named John Newton. It was actually published, for the first time, in 1779. It’s one of the most recognizable songs in the English speaking world.
John Newton wrote the words from his personal experience. He grew up not really following any religious conviction, but through a time in his life where he became more and more rebellious against authority. He ended up being pressed into the Royal Navy and became a sailor, eventually participating in the slave trade. He even became the captain of a slave ship. It was during that time, that a great storm came up and it was so severe that it frightened him to the point that he began to call on God for mercy. The storm ended and he survived; that began the conviction in his heart to come to Jesus and to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He left the slave trade and the sea. He actually went to study to be a pastor.
He was influenced by the great evangelists, George Whitefield and John Wesley. He became a pastor at a church in Olney, England. He started working with a poet named William Cowper. “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773. It debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s Olney Hymns. It’s been estimated that that song is sung over 10 million times per year in the English speaking world. It’s one of the most popular songs in history and it’s crossed over into secular music and it’s recorded by all types of performers. Certainly, it’s lyrics make it amazing, but so does its tune. If you think about the tune, the tune that we know today actually wasn’t the tune they sang it to originally. The tune that we know it by today wasn’t written until fifty years after John Newton wrote this song.
The tune was written by a South Carolinian named William Walker who wrote a little tune that he named “New Britain,” It is to this tune that we sing “Amazing Grace” today. It’s written using the pentatonic scale, “penta” meaning five. It only uses these five notes, which was kind of unusual for a hymn to be sung. But it’s part of what makes it so endearing.
In fact, over the years it’s been sung over at least twenty different melodies. The one that we know best is the “New Britain” one. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.” Just earlier, we sang those same lyrics to a different melody, didn’t we? To a different melody that we know; the “New Britain” melody. It’s easy to put to different tunes because it’s written in the poetic style called the 18.104.22.168 meter.
Do you all remember studying poetry in high school? The 22.214.171.124 meter is in “Amazing Grace:” “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound” has eight syllables. “That saved a wretch like me” has six syllables. “I once was lost, but now I’m found,” eight syllables. “Twas blind, but now I see,” 6 syllables. It’s easy to put it to different tunes as a result. Using the pentatonic scale, especially, makes it sound “bluesy;” it makes it sound heartfelt. The origin of blues and even rock music comes from the pentatonic scale. What makes it so amazing is the tune; it’s a very beautiful song. What really affects us is that pentatonic scale.
John Newton, formerly being a slave ship captain, wouldn’t have heard the eight note type of scale that was popular in Europe. He would have heard those poor slaves in the bottom of that ship singing the african scale, which is the pentatonic scale. It seems ironic, but yet appropriate that that’s the way the song is sung today, with the pentatonic scale .
What really makes this song amazing is the word, “grace” that he talks about here because he was one who deeply felt his sin and deeply wanted to do something about it. As a pastor, in his later years, John Newton wrote a pamphlet called, “Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade,” in which he described the horrific conditions of the slave ships. He wrote this in his pamphlet; he said, “It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.” He greatly regretted this, but you can see the inspiration of the words, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.” He finally felt forgiven. John Newton became an ally of William Wilberforce and lived to see the British Empire’s abolition of the African slave trade in 1807, just months before his death. This former slave ship captain became a gospel preacher, hymn writing abolitionist.
That’s what grace does. That’s what makes it amazing. What makes God’s grace so amazing is how it can change us. What about you? Do you know this amazing grace that John Newton wrote about? It’s the kind of grace that can change the dead to life. It can cause the lost to be found and the blind to see. It can change a life. Do you know this grace?
One of the best places to look in the scripture is Ephesians, chapter two, where the apostle Paul told the church at Ephesus about God’s amazing grace. I think, today, we can look and we can see God’s amazing grace on display here. As we look at the text, I think we’ll find three insights into why God’s grace is so amazing. Starting at verse four of chapter two. It starts off with two wonderful words that I love to see in the scripture, “But God.” Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV) 4 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” This is God’s word, amen.
We are looking for three insights now into why God’s grace is so amazing. Here’s the first insight:
1. It makes the spiritually dead come alive in Christ.
First, I want you to notice, in verse five, our condition before God intervened. What was our condition before we read the words, “But God?” If you look at five, it tells us, “even when we were dead in our trespasses.” Even when we were dead in our sins, that’s when God acted. He acted to bring us to life. ‘What do you mean, we were dead? I don’t understand what that means.’ God told Adam this, He said, ‘If you eat of that tree that day you will die.’ But then, when you read the scripture, they didn’t die that day. They were removed from the garden of Eden, but death began to take its place in their life that day. There was a way that they did die that day. They didn’t die physically immediately. But, at that very moment, their relationship with the Father was broken. They became spiritually dead.
Since then, every child of Adam and Eve, (that’s us, humanity) has been born spiritually dead to God. Spiritually speaking, if you think about how God made us, He said, “Let us make man in our own image.” We are the “imago dei;” we are made in the image of God. God is Trinity; He’s Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If you think about us, just for a second, there’s a sense in which you might see that within us is the soul. It’s who you are when you’re talking to yourself; that’s your soul. If you think about it, it’s in the self conscious. Then, there’s the body which has the five senses and makes it possible for us to be conscious of those things outside of us; world conscious. We can see and we can hear.
What about our awareness of God? That would be the spiritual life, so that we’re conscious of God. That’s the part that we are born spiritually dead unless we are made alive, spiritually, in Christ.
Notice what it says in Romans 5:12 (NLT) “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” We’re all children of Adam. Unless we’re born again and we become children of God through Christ Jesus we are born spiritually dead. “But God.” So, God looks at us and we’re spiritually dead.
What motivates Him to do something about that? Let’s look and see if the scripture answers His motive. What moved God? “But God,” in verse four,; was it us that moved Him? Was it our situation that moved Him? No. Was it because we were trying to be good and we’re pretty good? No. In fact, we’re dead in our sins. What caused Him to move? “But God, being rich in mercy.” He was rich in mercy. He’s a merciful God; that moved him. It was His character that moved Him. His mercy.
But He’s not finished telling us what motivated Him. He was rich in mercy because of the great love with which He loved us. Even though we were dead in our trespasses, He loved us. “For God, so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It was God; “but God.” This grace, this free gift of God is motivated because of His great mercy and His great love. That’s what motivated Him. It wasn’t us that motivated Him.
How does the pastor find that there’s three insights? I look at the scripture and I do my best to let the scripture speak for itself. I often look at verbs, especially if I see that God is doing something. Here, we see that there’s three verbs that Paul uses here to describe something that God’s doing by His grace and that’s where the three insights come from. Let me just show you where those are and what motivated us to see these three insights.
It says this is verse five, “even when we were dead in our trespasses.” Here’s the first insight: 1. It makes the spiritually dead come alive in Christ. It makes us alive together with Christ. You can see right there, the verb, made us alive together. It is actually one verb in Greek. Paul loves to put together these compound verbs. The 1st of 3 Greek compound verbs using the prefix “σὺν” (“syn”), which means “together with.” We were dead in our sins, but now we have been “made alive” with Christ. These “refer to the three successive historical events in the saving career of Jesus” that Paul says now belong to us through our union with Christ. (John Stott, The Message of Ephesians, p.80-81). We say, “synergy,” which means ”to work together. “ That word has passed into the English language, but in the Greek, he puts it with the verb so it’s like “to be made alive.”
Notice that there are 3 “with Christ/Him” (5-7) and 3 “in Christ” (6-7, 10) statements. In verse 5, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” is the first one. Verse 6, “and raised us up with him” is the second one. The third one is in verse 6, “and seated us with him.” There’s three verbs in a row in Greek that begin with the prefix, “syn.” That’s where we get our three insights. I’m not going to “unpack” the other two yet. I just wanted to unpack, “made us alive together with Christ.”
I want to make a couple more observations here, because we believe the word of God is the word of God. We think every word deserves study. We have these three action verbs; God did these things. How does it relate? Every time, it’s with Christ or in Christ. In verse six, it’s “in Christ Jesus.” In verse seven, it’s “in Christ Jesus” and in verse 10, it’s “in Christ Jesus.” We have either “with” or “in” over and over again. It makes you start thinking, ‘Okay, He was made alive, raised up and seated. Those are the three activities that He did in Christ.’
We just had Easter Sunday last week. We know that He made Christ alive again on the third day and He raised him up. Forty days later, He ascended to the right hand of the Father. We know that He was made alive, raised up and seated with; that’s Christ.
Here’s the part we may not have known. Maybe, the church of Ephesus didn’t know it yet, either. Paul is here to tell us that what Christ has now belongs to us. That’s amazing grace. If we’re in Him, we are made alive. We’re no longer dead in our sins. We’ve been made alive in righteousness. We’ve been made alive spiritually. We are made alive with Him, raised with Him and seated with Him.
I want to notice that there’s a repetitive kind of chorus in this reading. We have it, first of all, hinted at in verse five, “…by grace you have been saved.” Then, he repeats it again in verse eight, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” There’s a particular verb here. I know I’m saying a lot of “Greek” today, but just bear with me. There’s a particular kind of verb here that’s translated, “You have been saved;” it’s the Greek word, “χάρις, charis.” It’s in a tense that we don’t have in the English language, so it’s a little bit difficult to translate, but it is translated very accurately. We don’t have an English equivalent. Maybe, you remember in math class, when they taught you about something called a “ray.” It’s a dot with a line and an arrow on the end. That’s the Greek, in perfect tense. It does. It means something happened, sometime in the past at a particular point, but it has an ongoing result into the future.
We need a chart. It has this idea here, first of all, at a particular point in time, ongoing into the future. At a particular point in time, you could say you could translate like this, ‘You have been saved from sin’s penalty.’
What is sin’s penalty? We have already covered that; it’s death. We’re born spiritually dead . The first thing, when you believe in Jesus by grace, you are saved. You have been saved from sin’s penalty at that very point in time. This is the doctrine of justification? That’s a big word. Here’s the way you can remember it; “just as if I never sinned.’ This is justification. What happens is Jesus takes your sin on the cross. The sins of the world were put on Him; He paid in full.
How many of your sins did Jesus pay for? Did He pay for your past sins? What about the ones you had with your spouse on the way to church this morning; does He pay for that one? What about what’s going to happen tomorrow? Was His blood sufficient to pay for all sins–past, present and future? On the very moment that you received the gift of salvation, all of your sins were paid for. The penalty of death has been removed–that’s justification. You’ve been moved from death to life; sin’s penalty has been removed. I’ll talk about it a little bit more, but it’s this idea of you have been, you are being and you will be saved. Romans 6:23 (ESV) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We’ve received His life in place of the death that we once had.
When John Newton wrote “Amazing Grace,” he wrote six verses. You might not recognize them all, but you’ll probably recognize the first two that I’m going to read right now. They tend to have to do with that which happened. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.“ That sounds like the point when it happened. The next verses are similar. “.. that taught my heart to fear.” In other words, grace is what made me aware of my sin. “…and grace my fears, relieved.” It made me aware of my sin, but it also let me know that I could have my sins paid for. “How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.” The first two verses of the song, “Amazing Grace,” really cover well our first insight that we’ve been made spiritually alive in Christ.
How might we respond to this? What does it mean ? First of all, it means that the way you receive salvation is the way you receive any other gift. You can’t work for it; you can’t earn it. The only way to get it is to receive it. To say, ‘Yes.’ That’s the first way that you might apply this. Have you said ‘yes’ to the free gift of salvation, which is given by grace?
The second way you might respond to this is to say, ‘Now I can rest because I didn’t earn it to get it, nor can I earn keeping it because He has saved me and He is actively keeping me. Do you understand that grace keeps you? He’s our rescuer and He’s, also, our deliverer. This is especially important for those of us, which is all of us by the way, who have a repetitive sin area; an area that just keeps getting us. Some of us call them “addictions,” but really it’s just a sin area that keeps jumping up and getting you. I might be able to overcome the temptation in my life that gets you and then vice versa; you might be able to overcome the temptation in your life that keeps getting me.
You’re forgiven and this allows you to put to death the shame and it allows you to count yourself free so that you can grow. But, as long as you wallow in your addiction, in your sin, that habitual sin area that you have, you won’t come clean to Jesus with it because, even though you’re a believer and He died for your sin, you keep going back to that ugly sin. YOU are just embarrassed to even talk to Him about it anymore. You don’t deserve His forgiveness. The evil one will whisper things in your ears, ‘If you’re really a believer, you wouldn’t have done that.’
Here’s how you apply the grace–keep applying the grace fresh to yourself. Keep applying it, so not only does He save you , but He keeps you. He sets you free.
A third way that you might respond to this is to know that He moves you from death to life. Stop judging others; He isn’t judging you now. He judged Jesus in your place so that you could be justified. So, when you’re looking at other people, instead of judging them, give them some grace. My wife says that I’m doing better at this.
Do you know what “christian cussing” is? It’s when somebody cuts you off and I say, ‘Well, God bless you.” My wife will say that it didn’t sound like I really blessed them, but I’m doing better. It’s better than what I used to say before I was a believer. Apply grace to people. You have to first receive grace before you can give grace. Once you receive grace and once you apply it afresh to you regularly, as needed, which is all the time, then it flows out of you, so now, you’re graceful, full of grace towards others. Well, those are just a few ways you might respond that He’s made you spiritually alive.
The next insight into why God’s grace is so amazing: 2. It sets the spiritually enslaved free in Christ.
It sets you free in Christ; this grace sets you free. That’s what makes it so amazing. Remember that second verb I told you we’re going to cover? We’ve covered that He’s made us alive. But now, we have this next verb in verse six, “and raised us up with him.” It means “to make stand,” “to make someone to stand.” Not only has He made us alive so that we’re no longer spiritually dead, but now we can stand up; we can stand. We can live the Christian life. He’s made us to stand. This is the second part of “But God;” this is what God has done. He’s not only at a point in time, made us right with God, but now He’s keeping us so that we are being saved.
He adds a phrase here that he didn’t say the first time earlier. He said, “By grace, you have been saved,” in verse five. Here, in verse eight, he says, “For by grace, you’ve been saved.” He repeats that, but then adds, “through faith,” so that’s new.
What does that mean “for by grace you have been saved?” We’ve talked about that. That’s the idea of you have been,you are being and you will be saved through faith. So faith is our part. If grace is the basis then faith is the means. God offers salvation by His unmerited favor and then faith is the means. He’s done it all. How do I receive the gift of salvation? It’s by faith; faith is the means. Here comes faith, now I have salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”
Then, he says something really astounding and it makes sense, “And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” In this story, this was Salvation. In my hand represented my faith. Did I make my hand? One day did I say, ‘I’m going to make myself a hand.’ No. God did that. In the same way, we’re seeing in the scripture here, that both salvation and your ability to believe it are gifts from God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not of your own doing.” Even your faith, even the ability to believe comes from God. As a result, you can’t brag about it, “not as a result of works so that no one may boast.” You can’t go around bragging, ‘look what I did.’ You can’t do that. You have to say that it is all grace. It’s all unmerited favor. God did it. Even my faith and even my ability to receive it was God’s grace.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” We see how “amazing” this grace truly is. Romans 6:22 (ESV) “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” We used to be slaves to sin. We used to be under sin’spower , but now because we’ve been saved, we are being saved from sin’s power. We’re no longer slaves to sin, but we’re slaves to righteousness. We are servants of God.
Now, this is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but little by little. We should all be able to sing, “Oh, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever.” We should be able to sing, “Victory in Jesus, because, little by little, He’s given us victory over sin. We, from time to time, slip into sin, but then we apply the grace. We don’t wallow, we apply the grace because that gives us sanctification.
Let’s look at the chart again. Remember, we’re working this verb out. He has saved us from sin’s death, sin’s penalty and sin’s power. Sin’s power has the power to enslave, but now we’ve been made servants of God, which breaks the power of sin over us.. We still sin, yes, but are we slaves to sin? No. We have the Holy Spirit now, which means we now have the power not to sin. We can grow; we can change and we can be sanctified.
We see here, the doctrine of sanctification, which describes the process of being made like Jesus, that you’re being made a saint, you are presently being saved, Being made holy; being made like Jesus. Being made right with God; this is the ongoing sense.
Here’s a good way to define the word, “grace.” Look at it as an acronym. G. R. A. C. E. = God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense. It’s a good way to remember what this word, “grace,” means. Romans 3:23-25 (ESV) 23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”That’s grace. God paid for it. It’s free. It’s paid in full. You have to receive it in order to have it belong to you.
Let’s look at the next couple of verses of the hymn, “Amazing Grace.” I told you that John Newton wrote six verses; here’s verse three and four. I want you to notice, as we get into these middle verses, they follow the present tense sense of how God has raised us up and made it possible for us to overcome sin in the present. Listen to these verses and see if you don’t feel John Newton working it out.
“Through many dangers toils and snares. I have already come. ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” He can see he’s in the present tense now. He’s already saved, but now grace is what’s bringing him through those terrible times of dangers, toils and snares.
Verse four, “The Lord has promised good to me. His word , my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.” He’s still singing about the present right now. He protects me; He is my shield. He’s my portion. He’s my provider when the mortgage comes due. He’s living it out. See this is the middle verse of “Amazing Grace.” This is the present. If we live aware of this that we’ve been made alive in Christ and we’ve been made to stand in Christ, why are we still living according to the world? Why are we still living as if God hasn’t done this work in us? Let us begin to live in our new position that we’re alive in Jesus and we’ve been raised in Him.
Let’s look at the third insight. We have said that these three insights come from these three verbs.
3. It causes the spiritually lost to be found in Christ.
This final part in verse six, He has seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Now, some of you are looking at me right now, thinking, ‘Gary, I was with you until you got to that one. I feel like I’m sitting in this very chair that I’m sitting in right now.’ Well, I want to talk to you about something that’s true, even though it might not seem physically or experientially true right now. We’re talking about a spiritual truth, a positional truth. I see you; you’re seated right where you are. I see that. You see me; I’m standing right where I am, but I want you to know something about me and about all of you that are believers. You are already seated in Christ at the right hand of God in the heavenly places. You’re already there. You’re already there because, if you’re in Christ, you’re already there. You’re already with Him, This is called a positional or a spiritual truth. Paul is teaching us something very deep and meaningful here, that whatever is Christ’s is now yours as a believer. You’ve been made alive with Christ. You’ve been raised as you stand with Christ and you’re already seated in the heavenly places with Christ. You’re already there.
This is why Paul writes to the Church at Colossae; Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) 1 “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” Your real life is already there. Your spiritual life is already there.
We’ve been talking about how amazing God’s grace is; it’s based on what Jesus has done for us. He died on the cross for our sins, to be raised to newness of life, so that whatever he has, now we have. That’s amazing.
But God’s not finished. He gives us a hint right here that He’s going to show us some more grace that we have yet to perceive; it’s coming our way. In fact, He tells us this was His purpose in verse seven, 7 “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” This verse begins with, “so that;” it is called a purpose clause, This is what motivated Him was His love, mercy and kindness. He wanted to show you His grace. “So that in the coming ages.” The Greek word for “ages” is aiōn; that’s where we get the word, “eons.” In the coming eons, God might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus . God just got started; He will put on display His grace.
When you are visiting the beach, have you ever woken up in the early morning just to see the sunrise? You think to yourself, ‘God, You’re just showing off today.’ Maybe, you’re up on a mountain and you see the blue sky and as you’re looking you think, ‘God, You’re just showing off.’ Well, He is. He wants us to perceive His glory and respond with worship. There’s a day coming, in the coming ages after, after it all is said and done, for the centuries and eons to come. He’s going to keep showing immeasurable grace and more grace. It’s beyond even that which we are singing and talking about this morning. I can’t even tell you what it is because He hasn’t revealed it yet, but He is going to show, put on display, his grace throughout the ages, in the coming ages.
Don’t you want to see it? Don’t you want to see this amazing grace that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches, the wealth, the bottomless, infinite wealth of His grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus? Oh, it’s beautiful. It’s so beautiful, what He’s talking about and what His plan is.
In verse 10, He talks about how He has planned to do something in us from the beginning. You see it in verse 10. He says, 10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” The Greek word is “poiēma” for workmanship. What’s that word sound like? It sounds like the word, “poem.” That’s right. If you’re a believer in Jesus, you are His poem, His work of art,His masterpiece.
If you go to an art museum and you’re looking at works of art, the work of art is usually indicated by the artist’s name. It is usually named by the master who made it. ‘Wow, there’s a da Vinci!’ The works of art are named by the master.
Someday, throughout the ages, we will be like trophies of God’s grace; we will be like masterpieces of God’s grace through the ages. It’s what He had planned. He wants to make us His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, like a new creation. He is going to do something new in you. He is going to give you your true identity because you were lost, you didn’t know who you were. You didn’t know what your purpose was. You didn’t know why you were here. You were trying to make up purposes for yourself. You tried to make it about your gender, about your sexuality, about your job, about whether you’re married or not or whether you’re single. But He says, ‘I’ve got a purpose for you. I want to make you a new creation in Christ Jesus. This is what He says here, A work of art, a new creation.
Notice what it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” He wants to do something new in you. He wants to make you His masterpiece. What’s this masterpiece going to look like? That is easy; read the gospels. Look at Jesus; that’s what He’s up to. He’s making you like Jesus.
1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” This is my life verse. This is the verse that I love of all the scriptures. When I was a little boy growing up, I was asked, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I would just say, ‘I want to be like my daddy.’ Then, my father died at age 39 of cancer when I was eight years old, I was lost for the longest time. I was looking for a father; I had a father wound. I wanted to be like my daddy. Now, I didn’t know who to be like now. But you know, God saved me and He gave me a Father in heaven. Then I said, ‘I want to be like Jesus. I want to be like Jesus.’ Is that an order too tall for me? Absolutely. There’s no way I can pull that one off, but that’s what God wants to do in me. He wants to make me like Jesus. That’s what He wants to do with you. He wants to make you a new creation, a masterpiece, like Jesus, That’s what He’s up to; that’s what He’s at work doing.
Let’s look at that chart one more time. We see that finally, we will be saved from sins’ presence. We are going to have a new body, a glorified body, a body fit for heaven. A body like Jesus. We are going to think like Jesus, walk like Jesus and talk like Jesus. This is what He’s up to. Jesus is the second Adam. You are a new creation in Jesus. Oh, it’s amazing grace that He wants to do in us. He wants to make us like Jesus.
We see in Luke 15:22-24 (ESV) “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand,and and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” You need to run to the Father. You were lost and couldn’t find your purpose, but He wants to accept you. He wants you to find your purpose in Him.
We’ve got two more verses that John Newton wrote in this hymn, “Amazing Grace.” It just happens to be that they’re both in future tense; verse five and six. You might not recognize these because if you look at most hymnals, they usually just have three or four verses. Verse 5: “Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail and mortal life shall cease. I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.” That’s in the future. Then verse six, “The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine. But God who called me here below will be forever mine.” That verse is also future tense.
You might be thinking right now, especially if you know the hymn, “Amazing Grace” really well, that I forgot your favorite verse. I didn’t forget. John Newton didn’t write your favorite verse. It was written some years later; it was written later. Perhaps you noticed the missing verse. We don’t see this verse until we read the novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” written by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852. In that novel, she has Uncle Tom singing three of the verses from “Amazing Grace” to which John Newton wrote and one which he didn’t write. She has Tom singing the 6th and the 5th verses in that order. But then, she has him singing a seventh verse that was passed down orally in the African American communities that they had added in their singing. How appropriate that a verse would have been written and sung by the very community that John Newton once helped enslave but got saved and wrote . Isn’t it appropriate that God’s amazing grace would cause them to write this new verse?
You know this verse. You’ve been wanting to hear this verse, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun. We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.” That verse was not written by John Newton; it was written by people that were once in slavery and even in chains. Their spirits were set free by God’s grace.
It doesn’t matter what you’re going through today. God’s grace sets you free. God’s grace has the power to change your life. You can be made alive. You can be set free. You can be found in Jesus. Oh, how amazing is God’s grace.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for Your word today. Thank You for this story about amazing grace. Lord, I pray for the person that might be here today that really needs Your grace. They’re dead in their sins right now. They need to be set free . They are enslaved by some addiction or some hurt or hang up. Right where you’re at, pray with me. ‘Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I need help. I believe You died on the cross for me and that You were raised from the grave and that You live today. Would You come and live in me and cause me to come alive? Set me free. I ask You to save me now and be my Lord and Savior. Make me a child of God. I place my faith in You.’ If you’re praying that prayer, believing, He will save you. Others are here and you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but you’ve been struggling with applying the grace to your own life. You’ve been feeling guilty or you’ve been feeling beat down. You haven’t been praying. You’ve been feeling distant from God. Right now , would you bring it to God? Pray, ‘God, apply that grace to me afresh today. Renew my spirit within me. Lord, help me feel Your forgiveness afresh, so that I can walk in You. Lord, help me to show grace to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.