READ: Titus 3
THINK: John Newton was born in Wapping, London in 1725 and proceeded to spend the next 23 years making trouble and living immorally. While serving in the Royal navy he was continually disciplined, once being flogged with eight dozen lashes and demoted to the lowest possible rank. Eventually he switched maritime careers and joined the slave trade, sailing aboard the slave ship Pegasus. But he was such a pain that that the captain of the Pegasus left him in Africa as a servant to a slave trader there. In 1748 he escaped Africa and boarded the merchant ship Greyhound bound for England.
On March 10, 1748, as the Greyhound made it’s journey with Newton on board it was caught in a violent storm, and water began to fill the boat because of a hole in the hull. Thinking that all was lost, Newton cried out in complete terror, “Lord, have mercy on us!” And suddenly, in that moment, the word mercy stuck him. He realized that if anyone needed it, he did. He considered his past, his failures, his rebellious lifestyle and saw clearly that his only hope was the mercy of God.
And God had mercy. Miraculously, the cargo that the Greyhound was carrying floated up and got jammed in the hole in the hull. This stemmed the flooding and allowed the boat to float to safety. Newton gave his life to Jesus Christ, and God forgave him and broke the chains of his own slavery to a wicked lifestyle. He became an ardent abolitionist, crossing paths with and inspiring William Wilberforce, the Parliament member whose personal and political crusade against the institution eventually toppled the slave trade in the Western world. And, many years later, after reflecting on the events of his life and the depth and power of the salvation he had received, John Newton penned a hymn. He called it Amazing Grace.
At the end of his letter to Titus Paul hammers home the mercy and the grace of God in salvation. He reminds us that there is nothing we could possibly do to earn God’s favor or merit his forgiveness. We are all like John Newton in our way. Rebellious, selfish, and wicked. We have all lived lifestyles that could be described as “foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice, hateful…”
But by God’s grace alone, through faith alone we have been saved. That is amazing! Its free, its real, its our only hope. Grace and mercy are unearned blessings given to unworthy sinners. And when we realize the full depth of them, when we fully comprehend just what we have been given, we can do nothing but go out, live for Christ, and share his glorious gospel message with those around us.
PRAY: Listen to Amazing Grace.* Think about how the words apply to you and allow God’s grace to totally overwhelm you as you listen/sing.
*If you don’t like Alan Jackson then find your own version. There are plenty of them. I got you all the way to YouTube and your lack of appreciation for his awesomeness is your problem. 🙂