Grasping God’s Amazing Grace ~ blog
Almost all of us know the song by heart. Amazing Grace is probably the most well-known and loved hymn in the world. The author, John Newton, was a sailor who began working on the seas at the age of 11. He was known for his profanity, coarseness and a sinful life that might cause even a sailor to blush.
He was captured and forced to serve in the Royal Navy. When he tried to desert the Navy he was caught, lashed to the grating and flogged with 8 dozen lashes and reduced in rank to a common seaman. His own shipmates left him in West Africa where he was enslaved and forced to serve the wife of a slave trader named Amos Clowe. In 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who was hired by his father to find him.
He was sailing home in 1748 onboard the ship Greyhound. After sailing through a tremendous storm that almost destroyed and sank the ship he was saved by God It was March 21, 1748, going through the storm with the likelihood of the ship sinking when he recorded;
“On that day the Lord sent from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.”
However, many believers do not understand the actual concept of grace because it is so rare. We can understand mercy which is not getting the punishment we deserve. And when it comes to our salvation God shows us incredible mercy. He does not punish us according to what our sins deserve.
He demonstrates His love for us by not simply withholding the punishment for our sins. Instead, the Son of God because a human being, lived a sinless and holy life and then took our punishment upon Himself on the cross. We can receive mercy not because our sins were just waved away and forgotten but because Jesus took the full force of the anger of God against the sins of the world and He died on the cross in our place as the sacrifice for our sins.
And to all who accept Jesus as Savior, His death has paid for all of our sins. His blood has changed our sins from being as red as scarlet and made them as white as snow. His one sacrifice has completely paid for all of our sins and we have not only received the Mercy of God…but His love for us grants to us Grace.
Mercy is not getting what we deserve. It is the canceling out of our debt because it was paid for by Jesus. But grace goes so far beyond mercy that it is truly amazing. Grace is giving us what we do not deserve. Grace is giving us everything as a free gift and totally apart from our works.
Grace is not a contract with God that involves Quid Pro Qu where if we do something for God then He will do something for us. It is not something that we can earn or receive because we have done so well and been so holy.
Grace is God giving us everything of salvation as a free gift and that is truly scandalous. It is outrageous that God gives to us eternal life and the forgiveness of every one of our sins, past, present, and future…as a free gift. He does not tell us that we can receive His love, become born-again as a child of His, be sealed with the Holy Spirit forever, and given the eternal gift of eternal life…IF… we do certain things to live up to His standards.
And this act of Grace is what so many Christians, who view their relationship with God as contingent upon their good behavior, do not understand. It does not make sense that God would be gracious and give us complete forgiveness and eternal life without us having to do something to deserve it.
It is part of our human condition to expect to have to work for our salvation. And for God to just give it away to anyone as a free gift because they have placed their faith in Christ and have not earned their salvation by trying really hard to be a good person grates against the pride and legalism of those who are trying to earn what cannot be earned.
And God seems to give grace to the most undeserving of people. Those who were once blind are given sight. Those who were completely lost are now found. Those who are deep into sin, even sexual sin, are touched by God, given the faith to believe and are changed from being spiritually dead in sin to being alive in Christ by the choice of God the Father.
Here is how Paul describes in it 1 Corinthians 1:26-30;
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”
That is who I am. I am foolish. I am weak. I am base and despised. I am part of those who “are not.” And that is who you are as well. But because of His infinite love and mercy, He has given us GRACE. Amazing Grace…that saved a wretch like me.
More on this tomorrow …