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A Great Hymn, But An Infinitely Greater Doctrine
Most evangelical Christians are at least acquainted with the old hymn by John Newton (1725 –1807) even if their choir directors no longer use it for congregational singing. But since the tragedy of 9-11, where burial services for firemen and police officers continued for many weeks afterward, it experienced a revival of sorts as millions around the world heard its plaintive melody (and occasionally the lyrics) via televised news reports. Over and over, we listened as musicians of the New York City fire and police departments played it on bagpipes as a funeral dirge—a tradition of long standing—to honor their fallen comrades.
Yet each time I heard it played, I
could not help but wonder how many people recognized the irony of it being used
for such a sad occasion! After his death
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!
many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.
So to better understand what
“John Newton was
born in Wapping,
the son of John Newton, a shipmaster in the Mediterranean
service, and Elizabeth Newton (née Seatclife). His mother brought him up as a Nonconformist
She died of tuberculosis when he was 6.
In 1754 after a
So even though
The generally accepted definition of the Greek word charis (almost always translated as “grace” in the New Testament) is the “unmerited favor” of God. In other words, when His goodness and mercy is extended to one of us fallen creatures, it is always an act of His sovereign will and done in spite of the death sentence we inherited from Adam! And according to the Bible, if we only receive from God what we deserve, every one of us will spend an eternity in the flames of hell because as a minimum we break the first two commandments every second of every day.
When an expert in the Law of Moses (a “lawyer”) tried to test Jesus Christ by asking what He considered to be the greatest commandment, here is what the Lord said:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” Matthew 22:37-40 (KJV, emphasis mine).
But no mere mortal is capable of loving God with all his/her heart, soul, and mind—much less loving their neighbor as themselves. And anyone who thinks otherwise is seriously deluded! We are all totally depraved creatures and the relative degree of holiness any believer has ever, or will ever attain this side of heaven falls infinitely short of the perfection God requires! A single violation of God’s Law—His Commandments—condemns us and places us under a sentence of eternal spiritual death.
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die…” Ezek.18:20(a) (KJV).
“For the wages of sin is death…” Rom.6:23(a) (KJV).
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” Rom.3:23 (KJV).
So even if it were possible to progress to the point of loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind—the sin of not doing so while getting to that point is a capital offense and punishable by death!
“…there is none that doeth good, no not one” Rom.3:13(b) (KJV).
And I could go on and on citing verses of Scripture clearly intended to show us just how rotten we are in God’s sight. He is perfect and demands perfection of us. But since a single sin renders us imperfect—something we cannot possibly erase or undo—that places us in a hopeless situation. And the following verses written to believers tell of their former condition:
“[Remember] that you were at that time separated (living apart) from Christ [excluded from all part in Him], utterly estranged and outlawed from the rights of Israel as a nation, and strangers with no share in the sacred compacts of the [Messianic] promise [with no knowledge of or right in God’s agreements, His covenants]. And you had no hope (no promise); you were in the world without God” Eph.2:12 (Amplified Bible).
So in actual point of fact, all are born estranged from God and spiritually dead because we are the offspring of Adam.
“And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins 2 In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]” Eph.2:1-2 (Amplified Bible).
Please note I said earlier that these verses were written to believers concerning their former condition. Obviously their relationship with God changed, but how on earth was that possible? How could that which was imperfect and totally alienated from God suddenly become acceptable to Him? You guessed it—GOD’S AMAZING GRACE!
“For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; 9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]” Eph.2:8-9 (Amplified Bible).
Thus we see that salvation comes by God’s grace through a
person’s faith in Jesus Christ. But what many fail to understand is that faith
itself is also a gift of God! Note what the Apostle Paul told the believers at
“For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him” Rom.12:3 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
My friend, when these astounding truths burst forth in the
mind of John Newton and he finally realized all that God had done for him,
he penned those words of joy and praise that became a hymn greatly
loved by millions of believers. And just as a personal note, when I preach
a funeral message for a departed child of grace I sometimes have the congregation
stand and sing two stanzas of it as a tribute to that person’s faith in Christ.
So the next time you hear those seemingly mournful strains, please bear in
mind that sadness was in no way
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order Kingdom of Antichrist in their daily news.
Finally, we would love to hear from you. You can write us at:
Cutting Edge Ministries, C/O Pastor Ron Riffe
P.O. Box 26
Gordo, AL 35466
You can also E-Mail Pastor Ronald Riffe regarding questions or comments about this article.
God bless you