Summary: Amazing Grace is such a powerful song that even pagans will tear up when they hear it. What is the message in this song that can speak to the hearts of people who don't understand what Jesus did?
OPEN: A very distinguished preacher and 2 of the leaders from his congregation had attended an out of town meeting that didn’t finish until late that night. As they headed home, they were hungry and decided to have something to eat before going home but the only place open was a seedy bar and grill. They went inside, sat at a table and placed their order. After being served, one of the men asked the minister to say grace. The preacher looked at him and said: “I'd rather not. I don't want Him to know where I’m at.”
That preacher didn’t want to say “GRACE” because of where he WAS. By contrast, Ephesians says we GET GRACE in SPITE of where we WAS. According to our text today God tells us that, before we became Christians, we were dead in our transgressions and sins, we lived in the wrong place, followed the wrong leader, and as a result, we were “by nature objects of wrath.” That was NOT a place where you say “Grace”, but it was the place where we GOT grace.
After pointing out how dark our past had been, Paul wrote: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by GRACE you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5
Paul was telling the Ephesians: you WERE in a bad place, but while you were in that bad place God saved you by His grace. He offered you his forgiveness even though you didn’t deserve it. And that’s the beauty of God’s Amazing Grace - you didn’t deserve it... but you got it anyway.
The first verse of the song Amazing Grace describes that Grace. Sing it with me: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind but now I see.”
I was wretched, I was lost and I was blind - and it was then that God gave His amazing grace.
Someone once noted that the song “Amazing Grace” has been recorded more often by more musicians than any other song. When sung at even the most secular event or pagan concert, a hush seems to fall over the audience. And eyes tear up. And not just the eyes of Christians. Grace is what people long for, even those who don’t know Jesus. Especially those who don’t know Jesus. (Randy Alcorn)
It’s like there’s a part of so many people that’s uncomfortable with WHO they are and WHAT they’ve done.
ILLUS: A clinical psychologist and a professor named Dr. Jordan Peterson noted that most people don’t often think of themselves as valuable. “They certainly don’t think that - when they’re depressed. They certainly don’t think that - when they’re suicidal. They really don’t think that - when they’re ashamed, or guilty, or frustrated, or disappointed or angry or waking up at 3 in the morning and tormenting themselves with their consciences. They don’t necessarily think that - when they’re fighting with their family or when they’re upset at work or, you know, when things go wrong in life.” (https://www.facebook.com/drjordanpeterson/videos/2322886067950271/?sfnsn=mo&d=n&vh=e)
Peterson’s observation was – that many people are often disappointed and uncomfortable with who they are. They are people in need of grace.
So, some feel the need for grace, but (PAUSE) there are others who don’t unless there’s a heavy weight of shame in their lives or a fear of facing judgment lots of folks just ignore God. That’s why the 2nd verse of Amazing Grace says what it says. Sing it with me: “T’was grace that taught my heart TO FEAR, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.”
Grace taught his heart to fear. Grace STARTS with fear – the fear of judgment or shame. And there are many people who reject God’s grace for that very reason. They don’t like the idea that the are wrong and that they might be condemned for their choices in life.
ILLUS: For example, several years ago Ted Turner (the man who founded TBS and CNN) spoke at the National Press Club. “Heaven is going to be a mighty slender place. And most of the people I know in life aren't going to be there. Remember, heaven is going to be perfect. And I don't really want to be there... Those of us that go to hell, which will be most of us in this room (the National Press Corp) when we get there we'll have a chance to make things… better, because hell is supposed to be a mess. And heaven is perfect. Who want to go to a place that is perfect? Boring, boring.” AFA Journal Nov/Dec 1994 p.14