Summary: Based on Isaiah 1:15-17 and James 2:14-26 this sermon was prepared for "Amazing Grace" Sunday 2007. The thesis is that we are saved to be agents of God’s Grace in the cause for social justice for God’s oppressed children in our modern society.
A Mission of Amazing Grace: Seek Justice, Rescue the Oppressed
Today North American Christians are celebrating “Amazing Grace Sunday,” but do you realize the significance in our celebrating the most beloved hymn of all time? On Friday, 23 February 2007, the movie “Amazing Grace” will be released in theatres throughout the world. This date marks the 200th anniversary for passage the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in the British Parliament. That historic event forever abolished the horrific slave trade of African men, women, and children throughout the British Empire.
Final victory came after a twenty-one year courageous fight by British philanthropist, politician, and abolitionist William Wilberforce. The bill finally cleared the House of Commons at 4:00 a. m. by a vote of 283 to 16. Wilberforce was mentored in his efforts by his boyhood pastor John Newton, the former captain of a slave ship now turned Anglican clergyman, and his good friends the evangelical evangelists George Whitfield and the Wesley brothers John and Charles, all of whom had positively influenced William Wilberforce to become a Christian and thus leave a lasting impact on the field of social justice in our world. We also celebrate the 228th anniversary of John Newton’s composing “Amazing Grace.” January 1, 2007, marked the 144th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declaring “That all persons held as slaves within the rebellious States are, and henceforward shall be free.” [SOURCE: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/emancipation_proclamation].
The movie “Amazing Grace” tells the powerful story of William Wilberforce and John Newton in the fight to abolish slavery around the world. Methodism was always at the heart and center of the Abolitionist Movement during the 18th and 19th centuries. John Newton himself was nurtured as a Christian through the Spirit filled ministry of George Whitfield and the Wesleys.
The first vote to abolish the slave trade came before the House of Commons in 1796 and failed by only 4 votes when several Members of Parliament attended the opera instead of staying in the House to vote on the bill. As a result, Wilberforce suffered a nervous breakdown along with deteriorating health. His friend John Newton encouraged him by comparing him to the situation faced by the Old Testament prophet Daniel when he was thrown into the Lion’s Den. Newton’s encouraging words were, “The God whom you serve continually is able to preserve and deliver you, He will see you through,” words reminiscent of those King Darius spoke to Daniel as he was thrown to the lions, “May your God whom you serve continually, rescue you!” [SOURCE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/people/williamwilberforce_print.html].
The last letter ever written by John Wesley on February 24, 1791, was to Wilberforce. Wesley encourage his friend:
“O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name
Of God and in the power of His might, till even American