An illustration from a recent sermon, looking at Psalm 14v1-3 – The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
I’m reading a book about John Newton, the man who wrote the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, and how he lived the Christian life. Newton was a wicked young man. He swore, gambled, tried witchcraft, and slept with women as he travelled the world on a slave ship. He didn’t enjoy alcohol but he drank to get others drunk so he could laugh at them. He enjoyed leading others into sin. If anyone was unworthy of being rescued it was Newton. Yet one night, as captain of a slave ship, the ship was caught in a fierce storm. Expecting to die, he shouted, “Lord have mercy on us”.
For Newton, this was ‘a great day of turning’. His cry for mercy was answered and Newton and his crew miraculously survived the storm. Soon Newton came to trust in Jesus and the grace that God had shown him. Grace saved him, grace found him, grace removed his spiritual blindness and opened his eyes. It taught him to fear God, and took his fears away. It gave him hope.
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.
What is your story of how God has rescued you? Maybe it doesn’t sound as exciting as Newton’s – rescued from a wicked life, saved from death at sea. Yet whether we grew up going to church and managed to avoid obvious ‘sin’ or whether our history seems similar to Newton’s, we are all chief sinners. ’There is no one righteous, not even one’ (Romans 3:10). We have all grown up with our backs turned to God, ignoring him, living for ourselves. We are all ‘stiff-necked’ people whose necks are too stiff and are too stubborn to turn to God. The only reason we trust Jesus now is because God has shown us grace – undeserved, unconditional, amazing grace.
Why not thank God for that now?
And if you’re worried that you struggle to keep trusting in Jesus day by day, turn to him. God showed us grace when he rescued us. God shows us grace every day. He is the fountain of all grace. And ‘he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ (Phil 1:6).
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.