I love Scripture. God’s Word always has a way of humbling me. My pride often gets the best of me and today I was struck in the face with Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:1-3:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. -ESV
I was once dead in my sins. I was once a child of wrath. I was once following after the things of this world which would lead to my ultimate destruction. I was once living in the flesh not giving two cents about God. Then God saved me.
I became a child of God. I became a sinner saved by grace. I became righteous through the blood of Christ. Sometimes I forget that the ‘rest of mankind’ is exactly how I was. We are all sinners and we are all in need of God’s grace. What my pride says is, “I am better than you,” when my standing before God has nothing to do with me. My standing before God has everything to do with God. When I am reminded of this I always come back to reality. Charles Spurgeon had a great grasp on this as well, when he spoke these words:
Oh! man, learn to reject pride, seeing that thou hast no reason for it; whatever thou art, thou hast nothing to make thee proud. The more thou hast, the more thou art in debt to God; and thou shouldst not be proud of that which renders thee a debtor. Consider thine origin; look back to the hole of the pit whence thou wast digged. Consider what thou wouldst have been, even now, if it were not for Divine grace. And, consider, that thou will yet be lost in hell if grace does not hold thee up. Consider that amongst the damned, there are none that would have been more damned than thyself, if grace had not kept thee from destruction. Let this consideration humble thee, that thou hast nought whereon to ground thy pride. –Sermon No. 97, August 17, 1856
May God’s greatness cause us to lose our pride.
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In many modern worship songs there is a lack of theology. It is truly heartbreaking to see so much music with so little theological depth. I think this lack of depth is what draws me to the hymns of old. They are lyrically beautiful and focused on theology. Few hymns communicate like the hymn “Amazing Grace” by John Newton. Most of us have sung this legendary hymn but have we all considered the deep theological words we sing? The first stanza of “Amazing Grace” says:
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.
As mentioned earlier this hymn is both lyrically and theologically beautiful. What I love about Newton’s hymn is that it speaks of God’s wonderful grace. His hymn speaks about the beauty of God’s love for his people by showing that even though we were sinners Jesus paid the price for us. Most of us hear sermons about God’s love but few have heard sermons about God’s powerful saving grace. As Newton points out God’s grace “saved a wretch like” him. God’s grace doesn’t try to save. God’s grace saves.
Newton’s words seem to reflect the words penned by Paul in the book of Ephesians:
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared before hand so we may do them. -Ephesians 2:8-10, NET
Paul’s words are striking and clear. God’s grace is what gives us faith. We, as humans, do not earn salvation. We do not make a positive move towards God until we have been given the grace to do so. God’s grace provides us with faith. God’s grace saves us. God’s grace causes was to do good works in the name of Christ. It is all of God and not of man. This is often missed by many who read the words of the Bible and sing the words of Newton.
We can not afford to miss this vital truth of God. I want to end this post with the words of John Newton found in his poem “In Evil Long I Took Delight”:
Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now is fill’d,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill’d!
May we all realize the wonderful and powerful grace of God!
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