Have you ever heard of John Newton? John Newton was born in London, England on July 24, 1725. His father was sailor, his mother a Christian. Mrs. Newton, however, died from tuberculosis when John was only seven years old. By age eleven, he was sailing with his father. Eventually, he became a merchant marine and later was pressed into service in the British Navy.
Raised among sailors, Newton grew up to be a scoundrel. At one point, he deserted the Navy, but was caught and punished. Eventually, Newton found work aboard slave ships, transporting slaves to the New World to work in cotton and tobacco fields. In time, he became the captain of his own ship.
During his travels to and from Africa, Newton came into contact with Christian missionaries and heard the good news of Jesus’ love and forgiveness.
John Newton, the slave trader, eventually became John Newton, the Christian.
John Newton, the Christian, eventually became John Newton, the pastor.
John Newton, the pastor, eventually became John Newton, the hymn writer, who wrote arguably the most famous hymn of all time.
“Amazing grace,” Newton wrote, “how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”
Grace is undeserved love. Grace is loving the unlovable. Grace is God loving even wretches like John Newton. Grace is God loving wretches like you and me.
“But wait a minute, pastor,” you may be thinking. “I never kidnapped people and sold them into slavery. I’m not a scoundrel like John Newton.” You’re right. You’re not a slave trader.
You are a liar. You are a disobedient child and unfair parent. You are an imperfect wife and an unfaithful husband. You are an underachieving student and a lazy worker. You are a wretch, just like me and just like John Newton.
Yet God loved the unlovable. He loved you. In fact, he loved you so much, he left behind the glory and joy and perfection of heaven to be born in a manure smelling barn. God loved you so much he suffered beatings, whippings – people spitting in his face. God loved you so much he suffered your hell in your place, and because he did, you are forgiven. Because of God’s amazing grace, you will live forever in a heaven you don’t deserve.
Amazing grace – how sweet the sound! Never stop singing that sweet sounding song. Never stop sharing that sweet sounding truth with everyone you can. Never forget what God has done for wretches like you and me.
Never forget that, because of God’s amazing grace, one day you will sing that sweet sounding song with the angel choirs of heaven.
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’d first begun.