Understanding that Amazing Grace …

Amazing Grace …

Just recently a few friends were gathered and the hymn, Amazing Grace, was discussed.   Various thoughts were expressed about it.  This got me thinking about John Newton’s well-known hymn and what a magnificent testimony it is to God working in the lives of His children.

Sometimes hymns or tunes can become a bit “worn” and we stop thinking of the profoundness of the words of the hymn or Christian song.   Also, in the case of “Amazing Grace”, it has incorrectly been associated with the slave trade.  Yes, John Newton was very outspoken against slave trading and the abolishment thereof.   However, John Newton NEVER connected the writing and construction of Amazing Grace with anti-slavery sentiments.  The hymn was his personal  testimony of salvation!

The words of Amazing grace were penned to convey the wonderful work of grace God had performed in his life.

Let’s have a closer look at the words, and realize that they are as relevant to each one of us as individuals today as they were for John Newton.  Let’s find out why.

There is an acronym which spells it out – God’s riches at Christ’s Expense.   God’s undeserved favour.
Put yet another way, “Grace” means that God moved heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves.   That includes you and me!

To be perfectly honest, and this is something people do not like to hear or admit … we ALL have sinned, every single one of us and fall short of God’s standard.  No one is righteous – not even one” (Romans 3:10).   “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood.” (Romans 3:25a).   He became our substitute.

Ephesians 2:8-9 paints such a clear picture: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”.

So, if one is basing one’s salvation and achieving a place in heaven on “living a good life”, “doing good works”, “being seen at church”, “paying the church”, this will all fail.  There is only ONE way, and that is coming to the foot of the Cross where Jesus died for you and me, confessing that we are sinners, repenting of our sin, acknowledging that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, and asking Him to save us.

As that beautiful hymn by Charlotte Elliott (which one seldom, if ever, hears today) says:
“Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!”

Just as I am …

It is only once we’ve come to the Cross of Calvary and accepted Jesus as our Saviour, that works count (and then only simply to prove that we belong to Jesus – for all we do should be in the Name of Jesus, the Name above all Names)


Let us take a closer look at JOHN NEWTON’S hymn of testimony

If one has been saved from certain destruction or death when we definitely did not deserve it, or completely lost and then gloriously found… what would your reaction be?   If you’re a normal being you would be eternally thankful to the one who has helped and / or found you …

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me!

Wretched?  We’ve already taken a good look at what that means in terms of how God sees us BUT … the good news is that … He made a way for us to be put in a right standing with Himself.   Remember, God’s Word tells us that ALL our good works (in order to try and save ourselves) are as filthy rags.   Isaiah 64:6 tells us “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.  Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind”.   “(God) hath made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.

John Newton realized how lost and wretched he was and what an amazing grace it was that God had mercy on Him.  He had lived a life far from God and had been opposed to Him.   His life was radically changed when he realized how blind and lost he was.   We may not all have such a dramatic conversion, but nonetheless we are lost without Jesus as our Saviour.   I certainly can identify with this hymn … I too was lost once and knew that I would go to a lost eternity, BUT, praise His Name, Jesus found me and saved me from my sin and gave me a new life in Him.  (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed

Grace” is mentioned three times in this verse, and it culminates in Newton’s most personal story of his conversion and underscores the use of his personal testimony that he shared with his parishioners.

When we first come to know the Lord as our personal Saviour, peace which passes understanding should be flooding our soul and knowing Jesus should be something so precious.  The hour I first believed”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)   Having come to know Jesus as our Saviour, we can look forward to an eternity in the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One who saved us by His grace.  With John Newton we should also be able to sing from the depths of our souls …

“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”.

So, until that day when the trumpet sounds and those who’ve trusted Christ as their Saviour, are caught up to meet Him in the air, we must be about our Father’s business.

  • Share the good news of the Gospel with others,   
  • Read His Word daily and grow spiritually,
  • Pray and
  • Fellowship with other believers.

The challenge this hymn brings to us is this:

  • Have you come to the point in your life where you’ve realized that you are a sinner and that there is nothing you can do to save yourself … that you need a Saviour?
  • If you have taken advantage of that amazing grace, are you living for Jesus?


Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

O Jesus, Lord and Saviour, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
Bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.

Living for Jesus, wherever I am,
Doing each duty in His Holy Name;
Willing to suffer affliction and loss,
Deeming each trial a part of my cross.

Living for Jesus through earth’s little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.

Thomas O. Chisholm, 1917




The “C” in Calvary stands for the Cross on which the Lord Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins.  “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).   “You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now He has brought you back as His friends. He has done this through His death on the cross in His own human body.   As a result, He has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault” (Colossians 1:21-22).

A” is for Atonement.   “For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us.  We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us” (Romans 3:25)

Calvary’sL” stands for the incredible Love with which Jesus loves us.  “And here is how to measure it – the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends” (John 15:13).    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  The greatest expression of the love of Christ is seen in His self-sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross and in His blood that flowed from His wounded body – His head, His hands and His feet.   As the hymns says, “He could have called ten thousand angels, But He died alone, (alone), for you and me”.

V” is for the Victory won at the cross of Calvary when Jesus shed His precious blood for us.  “He paid (a ransom) for you with the precious life-blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (1 Peter 1:19).  “For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives its power.  How we thank God, who gives us the victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).

The second “A” stands for the Assurance we have that if we have confessed our sin and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord, we can know our sins are forgiven and know that we have eternal life.   “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong” (1 John 1:9).

R” reminds us the Jesus is Risen from the dead!  We serve a Risen Saviour!  “And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised Him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 1:4).  This gives us hope indeed.   “If Christ has not been raised, then our faith is useless … but the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead.  He became the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again” (1 Corinthians 15:17 & 20).

When faced with such love, such sacrificial love … the “Y” stands for Your decision (and mine).  What will you do with Jesus?  Neutral we cannot be.  “Look!  Here I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in …” (Revelation 3:20)

And now a prayer …

Dearest Lord Jesus, help us to understand how much You love us.   Today as we remember the great price You paid to purchase our salvation, help us to respond and seek to know You as our Risen Saviour and Lord.   In these difficult days when Christ’s blood and atoning sacrifice is hardly mentioned, help us to realize anew just what it cost You to purchase our salvation.  Please deepen our understanding of the meaning and power of the Cross and Your precious blood that was shed for us at Calvary.

I close with the very meaningful words of a song written by Stuart Townend & Keith Getty:

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death,
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the power of the cross:
Son of God, slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!