"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."1
John Newton (July 24, 1725 – December 21, 1807) is probably best known as the author of many well-known hymns, including, "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken," "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds," and especially the popular hymn, "Amazing Grace," which is one of the most well-known spiritual songs in the English-speaking world.
Perhaps what many don't know is that in his youthful years Newton lived a rather degenerate lifestyle and, because of his troublesome behavior as a sailor, in his early twenties was sold to a slave-merchant who gave him to his wife, an African duchess, to be one of her slaves. He was rescued in 1748 and, while sailing back to England, in the middle of a storm the ship began filling with water and threatened to sink, so Newton cried out to God to save him. This was the beginning of his conversion to Christianity. However, he didn't totally commit himself to God until a later time when he became seriously ill.
For nine years Newton was involved in the slave-trade and himself became a captain of three slave-ships. It was several years after his conversion that he gave up the slave-trade. In 1757 he applied to become a Christian minister, but it wasn't until 1764 that he was accepted as an Anglican priest. He became a very popular minister and people flocked to hear him.2
Because of his profligate life before he became a truly committed follower of Jesus Christ, it is understandable why he could write the following words:
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.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath 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 first begun.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for your amazing grace that also saved a sinner like me. May I always live in an attitude of gratitude because of your amazing grace, and please help me to share your grace in some way with every life I touch. And if I have never received your amazing grace, please help me to do that today. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
NOTE: To experience God's amazing grace be sure to read the article, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian—without having to be religions" at: www.actsweb.org/christian.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to listen to this amazing story about the music of Amazing Grace and the musical rendition by Wintley Phipps. It is extremely enlightening and deeply moving. It is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuK0LB6rsMo. Thank you Sandra for sending this link and information.
1. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV).