Helping Yourself to Grace (4)
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 1 Corinthians 15.10
John Newton, d. 1807
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.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
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.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
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.
Not just at the beginning
We narrow the scope of God’s grace, and of our awareness of its abounding presence and transforming power, without even knowing it when all we think about is the grace that works in us at salvation. Every believer knows that salvation is by grace through faith. It is the gift of God, and not something we attain by our own efforts (Eph. 3.8, 9). But this is just the beginning of knowing the wonderful, marvelous, and amazing grace of God.
Our understanding of grace is deficient as long as this is the primary way we think about it. Grace is indeed required for us to be saved. But, as we have seen, grace was also necessary to make us alive and keep us alive until we could be saved, and to continue sustaining and transforming us through all our days on earth, in every aspect of our lives. And grace will continue to enable us to live on for eternity in the new heavens and new earth. Grace is thus truly amazing, as John Newton leads us to sing in his very familiar hymn.
We need grace not just at the beginning of our walk with the Lord, but every day of it, in every way, for all our times of need – which are all the days and moments of our lives. The truly amazing thing about grace is that it operates continuously, lavishly, effectively, and unfailingly, and yet the reserves of grace are never exhausted. They are vaster and more varied than all God’s people will all together ever need. The grace of God is infinite, because it derives from God Himself. And it is amazing because by it, God does all things well, and makes all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8.28).
A journey of grace
The amazing grace of God is with us through all our journey in life. John Newton understood that the grace of God had kept him through the early days of his journey. Though he was a coarse man – a sailor in the British navy – who served on a slave ship after going AWOL from his post, yet God’s grace was sustaining and preparing him even then. He referred to himself, in those days before knowing Jesus, as a “wretch”, and he understood that only the grace of Jesus could change that.
Newton came to Christ through “many dangers, toils, and snares”, culminating in his experience of being nearly shipwrecked in a storm. That brought him to his senses, as he understood that the grace of God had delivered him “safe thus fat” – just as it has for us, through all our own trials, foolishness, setbacks, and disappointments.
And he knew that grace would lead him home to glory with the Lord as well. The entirety of our lives is immersed in the grace of God. He shields us through stormy times; He is our daily portion for all that we need; He does good to us in every way; and He fills our souls with the hope of glory. And when our time comes to quit this life, and put off this mortal tent, grace will be there to carry us through the veil and fit us with glorious new lives in the Presence of the Lord.
It’s grace all the way, every day, for every aspect of our lives! Amazing!
The grace that saves and sustains us also embraces and envelops the entire universe, every created thing. Newton could see, with the eye of his heart, the coming day when the cosmos as we know it will be changed, fused with the holy spiritual realm into one new creation, without sin, without sorrow, without tears, and without end.
And even when we have been there, safely ensconced and rejoicing for 10,000 years in that glorious new realm, we’ll still have unlimited days to bask in the grace of Jesus and sing His glory and praise.
For the wonderful, marvelous, amazing grace of Jesus is not only infinite and all-pervasive, it is eternal, irrevocable, and prevenient. It goes ahead to prepare for us an eternal dwelling in glory, even as it went ahead to enlighten our minds and open our hearts to the Good News of Jesus.
Grace is amazing, and as we sing of this amazing grace, we are reminded of just how much our heavenly Father loves wretches such as we, and of what He has done, is doing, and will do to ensure that His grace flows unfailingly to us through Jesus Christ, now and forever, world without end.
1. Which aspects of God’s “amazing grace” do you regularly experience? How do you respond?
2. Why is it important that we know that grace goes ahead of us into eternity, and will always be available to us there?
3. How can Christians encourage one another in singing these wonderful hymns of grace, and why should we do so?
Next Steps – Transformation: Pick six times today to sing one of the stanzas of this hymn. At the end of the day, sing it to reflect on all the grace God has shown you. Then pray and thank Him for the amazing grace of our loving Lord.
More songs of praise await you in The Ailbe Psalter, in which we have arranged all the psalms for singing according to familiar hymn tunes. You can order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.