Amazing Grace

...more than just a good bagpipe tune!

Mercy: Not getting what we do deserve.
Grace: Getting what we don't deserve.

As a child, when I heard about God's Grace, I used to wonder if God was a good dancer.  Later, I learned the word grace also means "undeserved favor."  The word "grace" in the title of the song "Amazing Grace" refers to the good things God does for mankind, even though we don't deserve it.

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.
The man who wrote the words to Amazing Grace, John Newton, was born the son of a sea captain in 1725.  His mother died when he was six, and after only two years of school, at age eleven, he went to sea on his father's ship.  He made such a mess of his life that his father eventually rejected him.  Unable to keep a job, he spent time in jail, and was finally reduced to working as a servant on a slave ship.

It was Thomas à Kempis's book Imitation of Christ that opened John Newton's eyes to the way of God.  It took a storm at sea in which he nearly lost his life to bring him to the point where he surrendered his life to God, and began to live for Him.  The next stanza tells how God's grace made him aware of his hopeless condition, and how God's grace provided forgiveness of sins.  By accepting Jesus, he was no longer condemned to an eternity in hell.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
At age thirty-nine, John Newton became a minister, but, as any minister can tell you, that's not the end of life's temptations.  It is also God's grace that He will provide a way for us to escape from our temptations.  See 1 Cor 10:13
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 fourth stanza may not have been written by Newton; it is in some texts ascribed to John P. Rees, but it is safe to say that John Newton would have agreed with them.  It tells of the eternity of life in heaven.
When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sung
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.
John Newton is buried in a church graveyard in Olney, England.  His tombstone reads "John Newton, Clerk; once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy."
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