In a land that murders millions of babies each year, sanctions moral depravity in its judiciary, and encourages drunkenness in her communications media, it may surprise you to find that “Amazing Grace” is a popular secular song. No doubt the melody is appealing; and the words of praise for God’s grace provide emotional comfort. It is also interesting to discover how many secular musicians have recorded the song. From Barbra Streisand to the Statler Brothers they are using it in their concerts. Elvis sang it. Merle Haggard sings it. So do Johnny Cash and Judy Collins. It’s a big hit even in Great Britain, especially when played on the bagpipes. Everybody loves to sing of God’s amazing grace. The song was written in the 18th century by a former slave ship captain, and Amazing Grace has been in every song book I can ever remember using. Truly, God’s grace is “amazing,” especially when we consider that it is only by grace that anyone ever has been or ever can be considered just and right in His sight. Since “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God,” no one can claim to have been justified by his own merits, Romans 3:23. The author of the words of this beautiful song realized his sins required a sacrifice that would satisfy the justice of the One against whom his sins had been committed. That demanded the death of His “only begotten son,” John 3:16. In Titus 2:11-12 we read:
“The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”
Three things must be noted in this context. First, the grace of God has been made available to all mankind. That grace, being made available, has brought the opportunity of salvation to all people. Salvation, forgiveness of sins and redemption are there for all to receive. Does this mean all will be saved? Is there no response for man to make, nothing for man to do? The Bible answers that question. Second, that grace that brings salvation to all, comes “teaching us” that we are to refuse some forms of behavior, and that we must live in a prescribed way. Third, other Bible texts declare that not all are going to be saved, but rather “few,” Matthew 7:12-13. So, even though God’s grace is available to all, many will refuse the benefits of salvation and redemption. In spite of the amazing beauty that rests in that beautiful song, God’s “Amazing Grace” can, has been and will be resisted by some, and that resistance, their disobedience, will result in their being lost, banished from the presence of God, “into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” Matthew 25:41. What about God’s amazing grace? It’s there for the taking, but it includes some conditions of life that must be accepted and practiced. The power and beauty of God’s grace is not diminished one whit by the previous conclusion. It is God’s amazing grace and mercy that brings salvation to all men, Titus 3:3-5. But man is obligated to live in harmony with the gospel of Christ, the instrument by which God’s amazing grace is revealed to us. We do not and can never merit God’s forgiveness, but we can “inherit” eternal life, Matthew 19:29, 1 Peter 1:4, Acts 20:32. Hebrews 9:15-17 describes the “will” or testament of Christ, and the terms of that will determine our fitness for that eternal inheritance. I love to sing “Amazing Grace,” as many others do today. It has a beautiful, compelling melody, and an equally compelling theme: the amazing grace of God, our heavenly Father.
Carl B. Garner