Summary: No sinner is beyond the reach of Jesus Christ.
Title: A Wretch Like Me
Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-16
Theme: No sinner is beyond the reach of Jesus Christ.
Introduction: The Conversion Of John Newton
At a young age, John Newton went to sea. Like most sailors of his day, he lived a life of rebellion and [wickedness]. For several years, he worked on slave ships, capturing slaves for sale to the plantations of the New World. So low did he sink that at one point he became a slave himself, captive of another slave trader. Eventually, he became the captain of his own slave ship.
The combination of a frightening storm at sea, coupled with his reading of Thomas á Kempis’s classic Imitation of Christ, planted the seeds that resulted in his conversion. He went on to become a leader in the evangelical movement in eighteenth-century England, along with such men as John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and William Wilberforce.
On his tombstone is inscribed the following epitaph, written by Newton himself: "John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had long labored to destroy." (Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1982], 28)
When he wrote the beloved hymn "Amazing Grace," he knew from experience what he was talking about.
I. JESUS CHRIST CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)
Illustration: God Turns Our Lives into Things of Beauty
Over a hundred years ago, in a Scottish seaside inn, a group of fishermen were relaxing after a long day at sea. As a serving maid was walking past the fishermen’s table with a pot of tea, one of the men made a sweeping gesture to describe the size of the fish he claimed to have caught. His hand collided with the teapot and sent it crashing against the whitewashed wall, where its contents left an irregular brown splotch.
Standing nearby, the innkeeper surveyed the damage. "That stain will never come out," he said in dismay. "The whole wall will have to be repainted." "Perhaps not." All eyes turned to the stranger who had just spoken. "What do you mean?" asked the innkeeper. "Let me work with the stain," said the stranger, standing up from his table in the corner. "If my work meets your approval, you won’t need to repaint the wall."
The stranger picked up a box and went to the wall. Opening the box, he withdrew pencils, brushes, and some glass jars of linseed oil and pigment. He began to sketch lines around the stain and fill it in here and there with dabs of color and swashes of shading. Soon a picture began to emerge. The random splashes of tea had been turned into the image of a stag with a magnificent rack of antlers. At the bottom of the picture, the man inscribed his signature. Then he paid for his meal and left.
The innkeeper was stunned when he examined the wall. "Do you know who that man was?" he said in amazement. "The signature reads ’E.H. Landseer!’" Indeed, they had been visited by the well-known painter of wild life, Sir Edwin Landseer. God wants to take the stains and disappointments of our lives and not merely erase them, but rather turn them into a thing of beauty. (Ron Lee Davis in Mistreated. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 3.)