Amazing Grace


John Newton (1725 – 1807) was an interesting guy. He is most famous today for having written Amazing Grace – one of the best known hymns of all time – but he couldn’t have written such a profound and moving song of praise and thanksgiving had he not first experienced the outrageous grace of God firsthand in his own life.

I recently read the aptly titled John Newton – from Disgrace to Amazing Grace – by Jonathan Aitken, on my wife Ali’s recommendation. It’s a well researched account of the man’s life, and well worth a read. It’s the story of a man who, though raised a Christian, rebelled wholeheartedly against the faith, determining to make himself a stench to God and anyone in authority. A man who came to work enthusiastically in the slave trade, treating captive humans as inhumanely as many others did – and who later found himself in the bonds of slavery. More importantly, it is the story of a man who came to see that he was desparately, hopelessly guilty before God – and yet ultimately forgiven through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

It is striking that a man with such a dark past should not only come to serve as a devoted and well loved church leader for over 40 years, but should pen one of the timeless anthems of our faith. But perhaps it should not surprise us – it is always those who most clearly perceive the true depths of their own sin, who most vividly understand the enormity of God’s gift of grace.

Newton’s epitaph, written by the man himself ahead of time, is a humble and inspiring synopsis to a remarkable life. Whatever you have done – whatever you are guilty of, however great or small – there is nothing that cannot be covered and forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus. Ask him into your life, put your trust in him, and discover his amazing grace.

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 hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.


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