Summary: Explores God’s amazing grace. Celebrates the great hymn of faith.
What makes Christianity different? Years ago that question was being discussed at a conference. Some argued that Christianity is unique in teaching that God became man. No, some argued, other religions teach similar doctrines. What about the resurrection? No, other faiths believe that the dead rise again. The discussion grew heated.
C. S. Lewis, that strong defender of Christianity, came in late and asked what the discussion was about. When he learned that it was a debate about how Christianity was unique from other religions, he immediately commented, “:Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
This morning, we are celebrating what is being called across the land – Amazing Grace Sunday.
EPHESIANS 2:1-10 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 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. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
It was approximately 200 years ago that John Newton passed away. Newton had been a slave trader, a rough and ungodly man – selling and delivering human beings as slaves, much like we would trade in puppies or cattle. But John Newton was gloriously saved, he left the slave trade, and became a minister of the gospel. Years later, as part of a sermon called ‘Faith’s Review and Expectation’ he penned a poem that would later be set to a traditional tune, and renamed ‘Amazing Grace’. It is hard to argue that this is not the most beloved song ever sung.
Wikipedia lists 80 popular artists who have recorded Amazing Grace, including Elvis, Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie, Willie Nelson, Christina Aguilerra, Ruben Studdard, and many Christian artists.
Amazing Grace can be heard in Star Trek 2, Meryl Streep sang it in Silkwood, it is heard in the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and other movies.
The tune can be played at funerals, on various instruments, in new ways, and it always reminds us of the great truth of Newton’s words: God’s grace is amazing!
Would you agree this morning that Grace is Amazing? I know I would. To think that God would look upon me with favor, and bestow grace upon me, is truly and stunningly and wonderfully amazing!