“Remember your high calling,
you are a minister and ambassador of Christ,
you are entrusted with the most honorable and important employment
that can engage and animate the heart of man.
Filled and fired with a constraining sense
of the love of Jesus and the worth of souls;
impressed with an ardor to carry war into Satan’s Kingdom —
to storm his strongholds and rescue his captives,
you will have little leisure to think of anything else.
How does the love of glory stimulate the soldier —
make him forget and forego a thousand personal tendernesses
and prompt him to cross oceans, to traverse deserts, to scale mountains,
and plunge into the greatest hardships and the thickest dangers?
They do it for a corruptible crown, a puff of smoke, an empty fame.
We likewise are soldiers,
we have a Captain and a Prince who deserves our all.”
– John Newton
How have believers in the past proclaimed the gospel to their own hearts?
Why not reflect on the examples below and then write out your own summary of the gospel? Then use it as a tool in spiritual battle when you are plagued with a sense of condemnation, shame, and guilt:
1. The Apostle Paul recounts the stunning grandeur of the gospel throughout his life like this:
- Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
- 1 Timothy 1:15 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
2. John Newton captures the simple beauty of the gospel when writing as an 82-year-old man: “My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; That I am a great sinner, and that Jesus Christ is a great Savior of sinners like me.”
3. Bono: “Grace, she takes the blame; She covers the shame; removes the stain; Grace makes beauty out of ugly things!”
4. Jack Miller: “Cheer up and smile! You are more sinful and flawed that you ever dared imagine, yet at the same time you are more loved than you ever dared to dream because Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death for you.”
5. YOU: How about you?
The people of God gather on the Lord’s Day to worship Him.
We do this in the power of the Holy Spirit,
out of gratitude to our Almighty God
as He is revealed himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
We humble ourselves before Him by declaring His worth,
confessing His lordship,and rendering to Him honor and glory
according to His Word.
There are many reasons to do this.
None is more compelling than grace.
God’s grace is unmerited favor from an unobligated giver.
God owes us nothing yet gives us His all —
the indescribable gift of His Son.
John Newton, who wrote the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace,”
summarizes the essence of grace
in his simple yet profound testimony in his latter years:
“My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things:
That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!”
May we embrace Newton’s testimony as our own and delight to cherish this grace ourselves and commend it to others!
Today is the anniversary of John Newton’s conversion. His story demonstrates the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For, at the helm of that storm-tossed boat on March 21, 1748 was a day Newton remembered for the rest of his life, because:
“On that day the Lord sent from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.”
Many years later, as an old man, Newton wrote in his diary of March 21, 1805:
“Not well able to write; but I endeavor to observe the return of this day with humiliation, prayer, and praise.” Only God’s amazing grace could and would take a rude, profane, slave-trading sailor and transform him into a child of God.”
Newton never ceased to stand in awe of God’s work in his life.
Both our struggle with sin and pressures from suffering can unsettle us deeply. The only remedy is to know with equal depth the unbreakable love of God for us in Jesus. Reflecting on Romans will promote a cross-based, Spirit-given assurance of salvation for all believers in spite of sin (8:1-17), suffering (8:18-30) and death (8:31-39).
Here are some encouraging words from saints of old on assurance based upon their study of Romans 8…
Assurance sets a child of God free from a painful kind of bondage. It enables him to feel that the great business of life is a settled business, the great debt is a paid debt, the great disease is a healed disease, and the great work is a finished work; and all other business, diseases, debts and works are then by comparison small. In this way assurance makes him patient in tribulation, calm during times of grief and sorrow, not afraid of bad news, in every condition content; for it gives him a settledness of heart.
— J.C. Ryle
The Law scolds us, sin screams at us, death thunders at us, the devil roars at us. In the midst of the clamor, the Spirit of Christ cries in our hearts: ‘Abba, Father.’
— Martin Luther
I grasp thy strength, make it mine own, My heart with peace is blest;
I lose my hold, and then comes down, Darkness, and cold unrest.
Let me no more my comfort draw, from my frail hold of thee,
In this alone rejoice with awe, Thy mighty grasp of me.
— John Newton
In the first garden “Not your will but mine” changed paradise to desert and brought man from Eden to Gethsemane. Now “Not my will but yours” brings anguish to the man who prays it but transforms the desert into the kingdom and brings man from Gethsemane to the gates of glory.
– D.A. Carson
It is men’s ignorance of themselves that makes prayer little in request: Hunger best teaches men to beg. You would be oftener on your knees if you were oftener in your hearts. Prayer would not seem so needless if you knew your needs. Know yourselves, and be prayerless if you can.
The first rule of prayer is to have our heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into converse with God.
– John Calvin
The one concern of the devil is to keep the saints from prayer. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.
– Samuel Chadwick
Thou art coming to a King, Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such None can ever ask too much.
– John Newton