One of the most popular, well-loved hymns of all time is Amazing Grace, written in 1779 by an English pastor named John Newton. The first verse says: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. .
Almost everyone in the world knows the lyrics to this song, but have they personally experienced that amazing grace in their own lives?
I attended a church once that did not understand the grace of God. One Sunday morning, the worship team had decided to resurrect that old song, Amazing Grace. I was shocked to see how they had changed the words to this classic hymn. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved someone like me.” Unbelievable! They wouldn’t even acknowledge the truth of Romans 7:24: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”1
This was one of those faith churches that talk about how good we’re doing already, and we’re just getting better and better. They deny the fact that Jesus came to rescue us from a pit of sin, despair, depravity and hopelessness. They teach that as human beings, we’re doing okay, and Jesus just came to make our okay lives a little bit better. They don’t want to admit the fact that apart from Christ, we are nothing. Apart from Christ, we are lost, dead in our sins, and far away from God.
The biggest problem with elevating mankind and saying that we’re better than we really are is that when people lift themselves up, they are bringing God down. In making us less sinful, they’re taking away from the amazing awesomeness of the grace of God. If we’re basically good people, then why did Jesus have to die the terrible death that He died on the Cross?
My hope and prayer is that as we begin to explore the topic of God’s great grace and freedom that God would open our eyes to understand how amazing His grace really is. The more we understand and encounter His grace, the more we will be changed, and the more gracious we will become as well.
To study the topic of great grace and freedom, we are going to go through the Book of Galatians. But before we take a look at our Bible text, I want to share with you some great quotes from different Christian authors on the topic of grace. These are some of the different books that I have studied as I have attempted to learn more about the amazing grace of God.
QUOTES ON GRACE:
“Because God is gracious, therefore sinful men are forgiven, converted, purified, and saved. It is not because of anything in them or that ever can be in them that they are saved.” (Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace).
“The Ragamuffin Gospel was written for the bedraggled, beat-up and burnt out…It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don’t have it altogether and are too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace… It is for the bent and the bruised who feel that their lives are a grave disappointment to God.” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel).
“As I look back on my own pilgrimage, marked by wanderings…I see now what pulled me along was my search for grace. I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else… Grace comes free of charge to people who do not deserve it and I am one of those people.” (Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?).
“To show grace is to extend favor or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it… Grace… is absolutely and totally free. You will never be asked to pay it back. You couldn’t even if you tried… My hope has been to create an appetite for grace that is so strong nothing will restrain us from pursuing the freedom and spontaneity it can bring – a longing so deep that a new spiritual dawn, a “grace awakening,” if you will, cannot help but burst through the wall of legalism.” (Charles Swindoll, The Grace Awakening).
Pastor Chris Jordan1. The opening section is quoted from my book: Supernatural: Contending for Signs and Wonders Today.