Captain of a slave ship, converted to Christianty through a born again experience, he became an ordained minister and wrote the beautiful words, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”
John Newton published the hymn Amazing Grace in 1779.
The prolific author, Philip Yancey, published the book, What’s So Amazing About Grace in 1997.
Grace is not amazing and will consistently be misunderstood and abused if it is not viewed through the prism of man’s sinfulness and God’s mercy.
Apart from that prism, grace simply makes Almighty God a dotting Heavenly Father who is willing to overlook the wrong committed by His self-willed and stubborn children because He doesn’t want them to reject Him.
What is so amazing about that?
All of us are familiar with human parents who indulged their children in that manner. We don’t like inviting them to our home because we know the havoc it will create in our house.
Can you imagine the havoc in Heavenly Father’s eternal house if He truly did indulge His human children in such a manner?
The truth is, that is not God’s amazing grace.
Let’s take a look at grace through the correct lens and discover the wonder, the beauty, and yes, the amazement of God’s grace to mankind.
Jesus Christ made an astounding statement in the middle of His Sermon on the Mount.
It is recorded in Scripture as the last verse of Matthew chapter five. “Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect” (KJV).
This is His concluding statement in series of comparisons between living by Old Testament living by the new covenant Heavenly Father was making through the life of His Son. “You have heard that it was said to those of old… But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:21-22, 26-28, 33-34 NKJV).
Almighty God was not doing away with the Law.
That standard of behavior was written before the world was created. Rather, through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, He was making it possible for mankind to live that standard of behavior from the inside out.
The “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” was going to make it possible for mankind to live free from the law of sin and death and for the righteousness of the law to be fulfilled in our daily living.
Jesus wants all His followers to understand, the standard has not changed. You must still be perfect if you are going to be His disciple and live with Him eternally.
That is an unmanageable problem no human can resolve on their own.
The great problem, of course, is no human being is perfect. Everyone has violated God’s standard of behavior in some manner.
That makes it impossible for a person to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and closes the door for anyone to go to Heaven.
It may seem unfair and unjust. Jesus declared this without qualification.
Actually, it is right and it is just.
After all, God created a perfect world and created two perfect human beings in His own image and placed them in the center of His perfect creation.
He gave them authority and dominion to be the stewards over all He had created, leaving nothing that was not under their authority and dominion.
Adam and Eve lived in a perfect environment.
They had a perfect relationship with the animal kingdom. They had a perfect relationship with one another and they had a perfect relationship with Almighty God.
You and I cannot imagine such a life because we have never lived in a perfect world.
God gave very clear instructions and warning if they violated His standard of behavior sin and death would enter their perfect world.
They chose of their own volition to violate God’s standard bringing havoc upon the perfect creation and opened the gates of hell into their perfect life.
The law of the Spirit realm is just as real as the law of gravity; or the law of thermodynamics; or the law of aerodynamics.
“The wages of sin is death” and the iniquities of the father are passed to the third and fourth generation.
The choice Adam and Eve made to violate God’s standard of behavior brought sin and death to them, to their sons and daughters, and to every human being that would be born after them.
Sin and iniquity, self-willed living, and the stubborn desire to live by the appetites of the flesh, rule the heart of every human being born on planet earth.
Because of sin and iniquity, death comes to every person.
Because of sin and iniquity, no one can live a perfect life and every human being will face eternity separated from God in the Lake of Fire.
It breaks the heart of Heavenly Father that His sons and daughters, created in His image, are destined to spend eternity away from Him in the tormenting Lake of Fire.
He, of His own volition, motivated by perfect love, designed a perfect plan by which a person could be redeemed from the judgment of sin and condemnation to eternal punishment.
Heavenly Father’s perfect love filled His heart with compassionate mercy for lost humanity.
He sees the suffering from self-willed living.
He hears the cries from the pain and devastation of stubborn sinful living.
His heart is moved to relieve that suffering and pain and to deliver them from the slavery of sin.
The dilemma arises in that no person can deliver themselves. No human being can change their heart from sin and iniquity.
We are hopelessly, helplessly, and habitually sinners.
Mankind is as unable to change the condition in which we were born as a Zebra is unable to remove its stripes.
God’s mercy moved Him to conceive a plan whereby a person can experience a complete heart change and be redeemed as an adopted son or daughter of God and be reconciled into the full relationship God originally designed for the human race.
This plan took into account that no human being could ever do this for themselves.
It would have to be a redeeming act fully carried out and completed on the part of God, Himself.
God entered the world of the human race in the person of Jesus Christ, through the virgin birth.
He lived a perfect sinless life, so He could take upon Himself the sin of every human being and pay the ransom price of death, “For the wages of sin is death.”
Imagine, “The Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Jesus Christ carried upon His own body the cross on which He would be crucified. He was also carrying the weight, suffering, pain, and the agony of all the sin you and I and every human being has committed.
When He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me,” He suffered the horrible separation from God that comes through sin.
He spent three days in the grave, suffering death in our place.
When He walked out of that grave on the third day, He won the victory for every human being; making it possible for every person to be forgiven and to receive a new heart and a new life, if they would accept by faith the completed work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus called it being born again.
The Apostle Paul said, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation.”
The Apostle Peter said, “You might become partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
The born again experience makes a person judicially perfect in the eyes of Almighty God.
The Holy Spirit living in the heart of a born again person makes it possible for them to begin living in the righteousness of Almighty God on a daily basis.
All of this is a gift of God received by grace through faith.
You cannot earn it and do not deserve it. God greatly desires to give it to you as a gift if you will just receive it by faith. That is the fly in the ointment.
You must believe that you truly are a sinner and you cannot do anything to change yourself.
You must believe that Jesus Christ took all of your sin and the judgment of your sin upon Himself when died on the cross.
You must believe that Jesus Christ was buried and rose again the third day; making it possible for you to be born again and made a whole new creation.
You must believe that all of your sin will be forgiven and removed from you, never to be held against you again, by God.
Faith is a transfer of trust, whereby you place your complete reliance upon Jesus Christ and His completed work for you.
You no longer trust in yourself and your ability to make this work. You place total confidence and reliance upon Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in you.
It is a gift… a complete gift… from Almighty God.
That is what is so amazing about His Grace!