Amazing Grace

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Ephesians 2:1-10

 

I.         John Newton was born in England in 1725

            A.        Before he reached the age of seven, his mother died.

            B.        His father remarried and John was sent off to a boarding school

            C.        At the age of 11, John left school to become a sailor on his father’s ship

            D.        His early years were described as being filled with rebellion and debauchery

            E.        Working on different ships, he began working on slave trader ships and over time became the captain of his own slave ship

                        1.         As history tells us, the slave trade between West Africa and the West Indies and America was cruel and vicious

            F.        In 1748, Newton’s ship was caught in a violent storm and it looked as if the ship would be lost

                        1.         He started reading a religious book and a seed was sown in his heart

                        2.         He eventually decided to follow Christ

                        3.         But he still was a slave trader. He tried justifying his work by making conditions on his ship more humane. He even held worship services each Sunday for his crew.

                        4.         But after a few years, he realized you can’t fix something that was wrong at its very core. He quit and became crusader against slavery.

            G.        In 1750, he returned to England, married, and became a minister in the Church of England

            H.        In 1779, Newton and his friend William Cowper decided to create a new hymnal that contained simple expressions of faith instead of the commonly used Psalms found in the Anglican Church. The hymnal, Olney Hymns, heavily influenced hymn writing.

                        1.         One of the best known hymns from that book is “Amazing Grace” that John Newton wrote

II.        “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.”

            A.        Ephesians 2:1-5 - We all were lost until God, in His grace, offered to save us

            B.        Luke 15:11-24 - Illustrated by the welcome by the father of his lost son

            C.        Luke 18:35-43 - Bartimeus was literally blind but received his sight

                        1.         I Corinthians 4:3-4 - We need to keep in mind that the god of this world has blinded men’s minds

                        2.         It is by God’s grace that we can now see

III.       “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed!”

            A.        Fear is often the initial motivator to learning - Proverbs 1:7

            B.        Psalms 34:11-22 - We are taught to change our lives, but in that teaching, we learn not to fear the things of this life.

            C.        Hebrews 4:16 - We draw near the throne of grace with confidence to receive help

            D.        The author is stating that he appreciated the value of God's grace from the time he first came to believe in God. He doesn't state what he did in response to that belief.

                        1.         Like the Philippian jailer, he responded immediately to the offer of salvation (Acts 16:30-33)

                        2.         The use of "hour" appears to be a purposeful reminder of the jailer.

IV.      “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”

            A.        Life isn’t always easy, even for a child of God

            B.        Psalms 27 - God is gracious and delivers

            C.        The Lord leads us home - II Corinthians 5:6-9

V.        “The Lord has promised good to me; His word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.”

            A.        Hebrews 6:13-19 - God’s promises are sure and secures our hope like an anchor for a ship

            B.        Psalms 18:1-3 - God is my shield

            C.        Psalms 16:5-11 - God is the portion of my inheritance

VI.      “Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease. I shall possess, within the veil, A life of joy and peace.”

            A.        Behind the veil was where the ark of the covenant was placed and God’s presence appeared - Exodus 26:33

            B.        We enter within the veil to come before God - Hebrews 6:19

VII.     “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.”

            A.        Revelation 21:23 - Heaven - no need for sun

            B.        However long we deal in eternity, the time there will not become shorter

            C.        Psalms 30:10-12 - God be gracious and I will sing of Him forever

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