There is a wonderful illustration of the nature of grace in the life of John Newton. John Newton had been raised in a Christian home in England in his very early years. But he was orphaned at the age of six and lived with a non-Christian relative. There Christianity was mocked, and the young boy was persecuted. At last, to escape the conditions at home, Newton ran away to sea and became an apprentice seaman in the British Navy. He served in the Navy for some time. At last, he deserted and ran away to Africa. He tells in his own words that he went there for just one purpose: and that was “to sin his fill.”
In Africa, he joined forces with a Portuguese slave trader, and in his home, he was very cruelly treated. At times the slave trader went away on expeditions, and the young man was left in the charge of the slave trader’s African wife, the head of his harem. She hated all white men and took out her hatred on Newton. He tells that she exercised such power in her husband’s absence that he was compelled to eat his food off the dusty floor like a dog.
At last the young Newton fled from this treatment and made his way to the coast where he lit a signal fire and was picked up by a slave ship on its way to England. The captain was disappointed that Newton had no ivory to sell, but because the young man knew something about navigation he was made a ship’s mate. He could not keep even this position. During the voyage, he broke into the ship’s supply of rum and distributed it to the crew so that the crew became drunk. In a stupor Newton fell into the sea and was only saved from drowning by one of the officers who speared him with a harpoon, leaving a fist-sized scar in his thigh.
Toward the end of the voyage near Scotland the ship on which Newton was sailing encountered heavy winds. It was blown off course and began to sink. Newton was sent down into the hold with the slaves who were being transported and told to man the pumps. He was frightened to death. He was sure that the ship would sink and that he would drown. He worked the pumps for days, and as he worked he began to cry out to God from the hold of the ship. He began to remember verses he had been taught as a child. And as he remembered them he was miraculously transformed. He was born again. And he went on to become a great preacher and a teacher of the Word of God in England. It was this John Newton who wrote:
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.
Newton was a great preacher of grace, and it is no wonder. For he had learned what Paul knew and what all Christians eventually learn: grace is of God, and it is always unmerited. It is to the undeserving, that the offer of salvation comes.
The Bible is clear: God’s grace is greater than all our sin, shame, discouragement, or fear (Romans 5:20)
Paul, in the opening lines of Ephesians, describes to us the rich and satisfying blessings that are instantly ours the moment we place our trust in Jesus.
Ephesians 1: 3. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us (me) in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4. For he chose us (me) in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5. he predestined us (me) for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6. to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us (me) in the One he loves. 7. In him we (I) have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8. that he lavished on us (me). With all wisdom and understanding, 9. he made known to us (me) the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
When we come to Christ, we instantly receive all of these spiritual blessings. We don’t receive some of them or part of them or a promise that we will receive them in the future. We don’t receive them conditionally or in stages or if we qualify. We immediately and fully have “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” We stand holy and blameless before God the Father. We are his adopted children. We instantly have redemption through the Lord’s blood, and we are fully forgiven for our sins.
Why do we possess all of these blessings? Because of “the riches of his grace,” which he has showered on us for no other reason than his extravagant love for us. The Creator of heaven and earth chose us, predestined us, and redeemed us with his grace. Not because of anything we have done, Not because of how good we are, Not because we earned it.
WHAT EXACTLY IS GRACE?
Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Grace is the unmerited favor of God.
Grace is God giving us what we cannot earn.
Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve
In Ephesians 1, Paul invites us into the very throne room of God as he shows us the blessings God has stored up for us in his treasure house – blessings we already fully possess if we belong to Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian living in spiritual poverty right now, it’s because you don’t realize what is already yours in Christ. You have never discovered the contents of the heavenly treasure-house.
If you are a follower of Jesus, it doesn’t matter who you are, how long you have been a Christian, what your position in the church is, how much work you do in the church and for the kingdom of God, or how religious you are. God loves us all the same and our blessings are the same. We imagine that God has been gracious to us because of what we have done — because of our piety, because of our good deeds, because of our repentance, because of our virtue. But God does not love us because of that. And God is not gracious to us because of that. Paul says that “God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ died for men who were hideous in His sight because of sin.If we are ever to understand the grace of God, we must begin with the knowledge that God has acted graciously toward us in Christ entirely apart from human merit. It doesn’t matter if you are a homeless person or a Billy Graham, You have all the blessings of God available to you. God extends his grace to the latecomers, the poor, the outcasts and anyone humbling themselves and seeking forgiveness into the kingdom of God.
If you accept the gift of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, you are an heir to the kingdom of God! You are a child of the King! Are you living like a child of a King? Are you letting God bless you like he wants to?
By grace, man is made in God’s image for fellowship with Him. Are you taking full advantage of your inheritance? Are you enjoying the riches and blessings that God wants to lavish on you?