The turning point in the spiritual life of John Newton was during a violent storm that occurred one night at sea. Moments after he left the deck, the sailor who had taken his place was swept overboard. Then he realized his helplessness and that he is not ready to face eternity. He realized that only the grace (mercy) of God could save him. That changed his life.
God’s grace means that while you deserve punishment for all your wrongdoings, you get total forgiveness and eternal life, as a gift: But God’s mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience He brought us to life with Christ. It is by God’s grace that you have been saved. In our union with Christ Jesus He raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world. He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of his grace in the love He showed us in Christ Jesus. For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it (Eph 2:4-9).
John Newton later wrote the famous song which you will hear in churches all over the world:
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. …
Jesus told stories to teach people about God’s forgiveness, which is freely offered. The well-known story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) is about the grace and love of our heavenly Father. A son wanted his share of the family inheritance and wasted it. Then he returned home expecting no good treatment, but his father surprised him: He was still a long way from home when his father saw him; his heart was filled with pity, and he ran, threw his arms around his son, and kissed him. The father then organized a feast. He said to his servants: “Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet.” No blame. No conditions. He said: “for this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.”
God’s grace is there for sinners which means for each one of us. Grace cannot be earned, only accepted as a gift from God through Jesus Christ who had already paid for our sins on the cross. God is glorified when a sinner acknowledges his sins and accepts the gift of forgiveness. As a response to God’s gracious love we do God’s will, which means to love God and people. This does not intend to be a repayment for God’s grace. God does not withdraw his grace when his children fail and sin.
John Newton used to be a slave-trader. It was on one of these trips that they experienced the violent storm. Later Newton openly condemned slavery. He became a minister in 1764. Newton’s life changed because he accepted God’s grace.
Dear God, Jesus paid for all my sins and therefore your grace is also for me. I accept this gift and give myself to You. Amen