w/m - John Newton
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
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers toils and snares
I have already come
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home
When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun
Former slave trader, turned Anglican clergyman, John Newton penned this esteemed hymn that tells of God’s transformative power in the life of the depraved sinner. It has been named the most popular hymn of all time. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. To understand just how amazing God’s grace is, we first must understand the human condition: Unrighteous, without understanding, not seeking after God, gone astray, unable to come to the Savior without the grace of God and drawing of the Holy Spirit, sold under sin, dead in trespasses, in utter rebellion against the Creator. We truly were wretched, and that is what makes the grace of God all the more amazing.
I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see. Jesus is compared to the Good Shepherd who seeks for that lost lamb of His fold until He finds it. In John 9, Jesus healed a man born blind. When questioned, it was clear that he was not healed because he “had enough faith”, because he said, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
It was only later that the man exercised faith in the one who healed him, “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.” Then Jesus made the analogy to spiritual blindness, “Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. What a great line! This line tells of both Law and Grace. Law, because it pointed out to Newton his sin and gave him a godly guilt over it, and Grace, because it taught the mercy of God in the saving work of Christ.
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed. For by grace we have been saved through faith… and that is not of ourselves… it is the gift of God. From the perspective of man, we see the grace of God when we take that step of faith, but we love Him because He first loved us.
Through many dangers toils and snares I have already come. ’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home. Regardless of our past transgressions, even the neglect of so great a salvation, grace and forgiveness is always available. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. The thing about grace is, when God pours it out in the saving faith of an unbeliever, that grace is not like the grace of other religions that only saves partially and temporarily, it will carry us all the way to glorification.
When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God's praise than when we've first begun. They say, when writing a song, make sure your last line of the verse is the “killer line”, the one that really is well written and grabs you… one you can’t forget. This one could be the best of all time. What a thought! A thousand years seems like forever down here… in fact, sometimes, an hour seems like forever. But even after such a long span of time, it does not diminish eternity at all. What a glorious thought… infinity spent in the presence of the one who showed us such amazing grace!
Bill Itzel has been a worship leader and singer/songwriter for over 30 years and is based in Westminster, MD. His family tours and leads worship around the country. Bill and his family attend Belcroft Bible Church in Bowie, MD. This is a blog about congregational worship and the latest news in the The Itzel's ministry.