This is not the post on grace I had planned to post. Perhaps that will be posted next Sunday. In any event, I wanted to share with you a little bit of the story behind this hymn. Some of you may know it, but I hope if you do know the story, this will remind you that the song is more than just words we sing.
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.
’Twas 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!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.
The author of this hymn was John Newton, the captain of a slave ship in Great Britain. "Amazing Grace" was written, most likely, sometime between 1760 and 1770. John Newton led a hard, seafaring life. He had no religious convictions until he called on the name of the Lord during a violent storm at sea. It was after this experience that he gave his life over to God. There is a movie titled, Amazing Grace, starring Albert Finney as John Newton and Ioan Gruffudd as William Wilberforce. The story is more about Wilberforce and his fight with the British Parliament to abolish the slave trade, but bits and pieces are included about John Newton. I would recommend the movie. It is more than just a historical account; it is also very entertaining.
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. " Ephesians 2:4-9
Grace means unmerited favor. In other words, grace is receiving a gift we do not deserve. We are saved because God gave us a gift we do not deserve...the saving power of Christ's death and resurrection. Without that grace we would not have eternal life, we would have eternal death. We would have a miserable, sad existence while here on earth.
When a person hears of the saving grace, that is freely given, for the very first time and accepts it... oh how sweet the sound of grace and the name of Jesus! It saved and continues to save a wretch like me.
There are many versions of this hymn out there. Everyone from Elvis to Janis Joplin, Randy Travis to Mahalia Jackson has recorded this song at one time or another. My favorite versions are by Chris Tomlin and Jars of Clay.
What is your favorite version of Amazing Grace?