WHERE WOULD WE BE TODAY WITHOUT GOD’S AMAZING GRACE?
As we go through life day by day, trying to understand our amazing lives, our purpose for being here which includes our destination, and how we are able to travel towards that goal we have set for ourselves, although we stumble and fall, we soon discover that we all have a story to tell.
Our stories on the surface may seem to be different, but when we look deeply at where we are and how we got to where we are, the story lines begin to merge and we all begin to repeat the same line we “are saved” by “grace.” It was nothing but God’s amazing grace that brought me through the darkness of this wilderness and into His marvelous light. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor. It is a true spiritual gift from God. Grace is divine assistance given to us humans for our regeneration (rebirth) or sanctification; a virtue coming from God; a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine favor.
I have come to see the doctrine of the God’s Amazing Grace as one of the dominant themes of the Bible. In musical terms, God’s Amazing Grace is like the melody line of a beautiful song, and the greatest song of all that comes to my mind is, “Amazing Grace.” As a rule, only one note carries the melody, and all of the other notes serve to compliment that note with a harmony. I believe that grace is the dominant note in God’s dealings with man. His justice, His holiness, His omnipotence, and His omniscience are all an integral part of the music of His character and activities, but grace stands apart and above them all.
Now pause with me for a moment and let us listen to one of my favorite songs that really tell the true story of God’s redeeming quality for all of us who have accepted Jesus, as our Lord and savior, and then we will continue this discussion on the other side of this beautiful melody.
When I look back over my life, I know that it was nothing but God’s amazing grace that brought me through my trials and tribulations, and I am certain you will say the same. This amazing grace comes only from the Lord and is simply the God-given desire and the power to do God’s will.
In order to help us truly appreciate and understand the value that this one song has done to help transform our lives and the lives of people all over the world, let me share with you the history of this great song. Now please take note of this next video because it does provide us with a deep understanding of the History of this song Amazing Grace as this part of the lesson is taught by Dr. Wintley Phipps. We will join you in words once again when Dr. Phipps has concluded.
“Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn written by English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), published in 1779. With a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of the sins people commit and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” 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 coincidences that were often put into motion by his recalcitrant insubordination. He was pressed into the Royal Navy and became a sailor, eventually participating in the slave trade. 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. His career in slave trading lasted a few years more until he quit going to sea altogether and began studying theology.
Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton became curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, where he began to write hymns with poet William Cowper. “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773. It is unknown if there was any music accompanying the verses, and it may have been chanted by the congregation without music. It debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s Olney Hymns, but settled into relative obscurity in England. In the United States however, “Amazing Grace” was used extensively during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. It has been associated with more than 20 melodies, but in 1835 it was joined to a tune named “New Britain” to which it is most frequently sung today.
Author Gilbert Chase writes that “Amazing Grace” is “without a doubt the most famous of all the folk hymns,” and Jonathan Aitken, a Newton biographer, estimates that it is performed about 10 million times annually. It has had particular influence in folk music, and become an emblematic African American spiritual. Its universal message has been a significant factor in its crossover into secular music. “Amazing Grace” saw a resurgence in popularity in the U.S. during the 1960s and has been recorded thousands of times during and since the 20th century, sometimes appearing on popular music charts. Now let us pause again, and listen to one of the world’s greatest singers, “Mahalia Jackson.”
I know deep in my soul that this song has had an impact on your thought process. It has made you pause and think for a moment just why God has allowed you to be where you are in your life today. When we understand and can comprend in our thought process the deep meaning of these words, we know in our hearts that it was only by His grace, we were spared, the wrath we deserve. Instead, we receive the favor we do not deserve. Why is this true? The answer is found in the two words: through Christ. It is because of Christ’s death in our place that we do not experience the wrath of God, which we so richly deserve. Jesus satisfied God’s justice and turned away God’s wrath from us by bearing it Himself on our behalf. Now God can extend mercy to us without subverting His justice. Mercy and justice meet together at the cross.
Jesus did more, however, than satisfy God’s justice and turn aside His wrath. By His perfect obedience, He earned for us all of God’s favor, all of His blessings. To use my kid’s illustration, they would say, Dad, “He mowed the grass, trimmed the hedges, washed the windows and painted the porch. He did it all. He perfectly obeyed all the law of God, and He did it in our place.” Just as He died in our place, so He also obeyed in our place. That is why those two words “through Christ” are so critical to the definition of grace. Without Christ’s work for us, there could be no grace.
Therefore, when we speak of God’s grace, we mean all the good gifts we enjoy freely in this life, and there are so many. We could spend a lifetime celebrating them, and there is no need to attempt to list them here. Your own life is a mirror of them all. A summary approach is to affirm that life itself is the fundamental gift, with all its delights. For us, the gift of life includes the wondrous gift of being human, finding ourselves plopped down in the midst of the larger gift of creation. That is the bedrock of grace—creation, life, and human being. As humans, we are given a unique place in the created order.