‘Amazing Grace’ is probably one of the best known hymns around the world. We read on Wikipedia that ‘Amazing Grace’ was ‘written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), [and] published in 1779. Containing a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, ‘Amazing Grace’ is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. . . . Jonathan Aitken, a Newton biographer, estimates that it is performed about 10 million times annually.’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace)
You might wonder what has inspired me to write about this today. Well, it’s like this. As my kids have grown, I have been praying hard for them to personally invite Jesus into their lives, to accept His gift of salvation, and to commit their lives to Him. I know that if they are fully committed to Jesus, then their ways and standards of behaviour will honour Him. I remember when I was their age, and fully acknowledge that without the Lord, I would have been lost indeed. Thus, I want the same blessings and security to be theirs too.
Over the past few days in particular, I have been trawling the internet and reading the Word more avidly than usual. I had read Psalm 103:17-18 before. I had also accidentally stumbled upon Charles Finney’s lecture on prevailing prayer, of which two of the verses he used as an example to illustrate his thesis is this one: ‘The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them.’ (Psalm 103:17, 18) Finney, a great revivalist, stressed that Christians require what he called ‘evidence’ if we are to take hold of the promise in Mark 11:24: ‘Therefore I say unto you, “What things so ever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”‘
This is what Finney said about ‘evidence’:
When are we bound to believe that we shall have the very things we pray for? I answer “When we have evidence of it.” Faith must always have evidence. A man cannot believe a thing, unless he sees something which he supposes to be evidence. He is under no obligation to believe, and has no right to believe, a thing will be done, unless he has evidence. It is the height of fanaticism to believe without evidence.
However, I realised that I needed a little more hand-holding that what Finney’s lecture offered. As I searched and my spirit prayed, I came across Calvin’s Commentaries, which shed more light on the meaning of Psalm 103:17-18 (www.sacred-texts.com/chr/calvin/cc11/cc11011.htm). I had already read Barnes’ notes on the same, but did not find them as compelling as Calvin’s exposition. It was with great relief and thankfulness when I read Calvin’s commentary.
How wonderful, how loving, how all-encompassing is God’s love toward those who would follow Him! To me, this is amazing grace indeed. I felt then and continue to experience a sense of peace and the anticipation of hope regarding God’s faithfulness to my children – for this is His promise. He will not let me – or them – down. Like John Newton, I can sing with conviction:
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.