Then King David went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: “Who am I, O LORD God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O God; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have regarded me according to the rank of a man of high degree, O LORD God.” I Chronicles 17:16-17
Yes, I am so thankful for grace! As we approach another Thanksgiving Day and I ponder in my heart all of the blessings that have been mine, none exceeds the manifold grace of God which appeared to me when I was desperately lost in my sins. An elderly saint was heard to say, “I deserve to be damned, I deserve to be in hell; but God interfered!” My friend, that’s grace! W.E. Best expresses my sentiments when he said, “The sinner, apart from grace, is unable to be willing and unwilling to be able.” Grace represents both the helpless poverty of man and the unlimited kindness of God. Someone once said, “The grace of salvation is a gift and you can’t boast about a gift. You can only be thankful.”
It was the word of “grace” that brought salvation to me (Acts 20:32); it was “grace” that justified me (Rom. 3:24); His “grace” in saving me was not just sufficient but abundant (Rom. 5:7); my salvation was not through anything I could do but was a gift of His “grace” (Rom. 12:3,6,15:5); so like Paul, I can say, “By the ‘grace’ of God I am what I am” (I Cor. 15:10).
But God’s grace goes far beyond the provision for my salvation, it touches every area of my life as I make my journey towards the heavenly city. God’s grace for the journey is available for every situation ever imaginable. There is strengthening grace (II Cor. 12:9); sustaining grace (II Cor. 9:8); serving grace (I Cor. 15:10); standing grace (Rom. 5:2); singing grace (Col. 3:16); speaking grace (Col. 4:6); and there is also succumbing grace as manifested in the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:9) and certainly demonstrated in the life of Stephen when at death’s door (Acts 7:54-60).
We are so familiar with that great hymn “Amazing grace” written by John Newton, truly a sinner saved by grace (The text above prefaces his hymn in the Olney Hymnbook). A former associate in ministry, Dr. Kenneth W. Osbeck, in his volume of hymn stories entitled, “Amazing Grace,” states, “Until the time of his death at the age of 82, John Newton never ceased to marvel at the grace of God that transformed him so completely. Shortly before his death he is quoted as proclaiming with a loud voice during a message, ‘My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!’ What amazing grace!”
Our hymnbooks usually only print five, six, at the most, verses of Newton’s renowned hymn. Years ago, a dear friend gave to me the complete text of Newton’s hymn, “Amazing Grace,” which, in it’s entirety, contains thirteen verses. As I read them, I once again expressed to the Lord my thankfulness for His grace. I am sure that you will too.
In evil long I took delight, unawed by shame or fear;
Till a new object met my sight, and stopped my wild career.
I saw One hanging on a tree in agonies and blood;
Who fixed His languid eyes on me as near His cross I stood.
Sure, never till my last breath can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death, though not a word He spoke.
My conscience felt and owned the guilt, and plunged me in despair;
I saw my sins His blood had shed, and helped me to nail Him there.
Alas, I knew not what I did, but all my tears were vain;
Where could my trembling soul be hid, for I, the Lord, had slain!
A second look He gave that said, “I freely all forgive!”
“This blood is for thy ransom paid, I died that thou mayest live!”
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!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath bro’t me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the vail, a life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine,
But God Who called me here below shall be forever mine.
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’d first begun.
–Maynard H. Belt