the message of John Newton’s most famous hymn and applying its gospel
message to our own experience.
AIM: That we
might experience an increased ability to worship God in the context of
redemption and to sing the song from the heart and not just from memory.
INTR: It is to
be feared that we sing the hymns of Zion and the songs that should
resound as “making melody in our hearts” to the Lord are often merely
recited from memory.
1. From Newton’s tombstone: “John Newton, Clerk,
once and 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.”
2. This hymn was most certainly written from
“out of the depths” of the soul of one whose heart experienced the
things he wrote – do we experience it as we sing it?
3. To look to
Christ is to see the essence of grace: And the Word was made flesh, and
dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14. We would
endeavor to visit the hymn with the effect that we are as amazed as was
THESIS: It is in the
Grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are made to realize
the extent of grace as far as we are concerned. So it was the divine
intent that the effect would be the worship of the one true God and
Jesus Christ who He has sent.
I. The amazing effect – “How sweet
1. Verse 7 of our text speaks volumes to the reason of
Newton’s use of the word “amazing”
1) The very word “amaze” should
arrest our attention: “To confound with fear, sudden surprise, or
wonder; to astonish.” Webster’s 1828 dictionary.
2) We are first here
amazed at the richness of that grace – incomprehensible greatness
We are further amazed at the kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ
And we are especially amazed that this kindness comes through the life,
work, and sacrifice of Christ our Lord.
2. It is sad that one of the
great deceptions is that men can, of themselves, generate the sense that
makes us able perceive such sweetness: The voice of my beloved! behold,
he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. Song of
3. And compare: How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea,
sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalms 119:103
4. The sound is sweet
because it reveals to us the determination of a thrice-holy God to do
infinite good and provide everlasting joy and fellowship with Him!
How is the message received and is the sound as sweet as it should be to
II. The amazing perception of the true believer – “A wretch
like me” saved by such grace.
1. Who can forget the words of the
Apostle: O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of
this death? Romans 7:24
1) Words that evidently described the state
from which he had been saved, but more
2) The effect of sin in his
life so that he truly saw himself in that way!
2. As we read Romans
3:12-18, may we be reminded that those words are descriptive of all in
the potential of our natures and so there is not hesitancy to describe
ourselves as the Lord did the Laodiceans: Because thou sayest, I am
rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest
not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and
naked: Revelation 3:17
3. That Christ should engage in full
identification with the likes of such – “this man eateth with sinners.”
Note that Newton fully identified as an infidel and one a rebel against
1) Christ was more than sympathetic to us – He became us and
bore our sin in His body on the tree and there suffered our death – Are
2) He arose without our sin and declared death to be
vanquished – Are we amazed?
III. Delivered from being lost and
1. The typical thought about being lost is that of “merely not
1) Lost, in the sense understood by Newton and the
scriptures, is a far worse situation in that there is no consciousness
of the fact and there is no human means of escape exists.
i. Lost to
any sense of real need of eternal salvation.
ii. Lost to any sense of
or need of the love of God applied
iii. To us means that we don’t
know where we are – this is much worse
2) Ultimately lost means to be
forever cut off from the presence of God and left to the self-existence
men cultivate and memory.
2. And blind to any sense of divine light –
such blindness apart from grace remains.
3. To see is to see Jesus
and the beauty associated with the sound of Amazing Grace –
Illustration: The boy seeing color for the first time.