This work will be based on the musical art composed by John Newton. The title of the song, Amazing Grace, rhymes closely with scriptural themes in the New Testament. The paper thus seeks to use the song as an analogy to draw a comparison and contrast between the song and the Biblical text in the New Testament. This will help in understanding and interpreting the New Testament verses that explicitly or implicitly talk about the grace of God.
The grace of God can be defined as the unmerited favor, love, kindness, and compassion of God towards humanity, which is his creation. The theme of the grace of God runs in most of the epistles of Saint Paul to the churches in Corinth, Romans, and Ephesians. John Newton’s song of Amazing Grace speaks of how God, through his loving kindness, redeemed him when he did not deserve the redemption, since his life was cruel and he exploited the poor and subjected slaves to extreme cruelty. The song Amazing Grace is thus an expression of his thanksgiving to the Lord for considering him for salvation, even though his life was crooked. In Ephesians 2, Paul implores believers in Ephesus to meditate on how God, through his kindness and love, delivered them from the shadows of death that engulfed them. In verse 1, Paul says before the Lord showed Ephesians his grace, they were dead and doomed forever because of their many sins.
In one of the lines of his song, John Newton confesses that once he was lost but Jesus found him. This resonates and rhymes with Ephesians 2:1 that reports how God through his grace redeemed the Ephesians from the doom of death and destruction that comes with sin. In his song Amazing Grace, John Newton sings “Thro' many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; 'This grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.” These words create a picture of how God can pick a believer from the danger of sin. This grace of God is amazing, since it is a reward given to anybody who is willing to forget the ways of one’s past. God sent Christ to redeem those who were lost; as John puts it in his song, that he was once lost but now he is found. It is the grace of God that located him in his filthy condition and gave him a new identity and hope through Christ.
Paul says in Ephesians 2: 2 that before God’s amazing grace is revealed to a man, he remains in darkness and lives in sin obeying Satan. This sinful life brings destruction and death, while the revelation of the grace of God that John Newton sings about uplifts one from this life to the arms of Christ, where there is safety. Ephesians 2: 3 connects with Newton’s song since it shows that before one comes to the knowledge of Christ through God’s grace, his life was evil. But once the grace of God appears to a man, the grace of God relieves him of the fear of death and brings him safely home to the Lord. This connects with the song in the second stanza, where Newton sings, “And by grace my fears were relieved”.
The grace of God is characterized by his fullness in love and mercy. In Ephesians 2:4, Saint Paul describes God’s grace by outlining how this grace comes with great compassion, mercy, and love. In Ephesians, Paul indicates that though one may have been considered dead because of sin, God restores such a person to life through faith in Christ that died on the Cross for the redemption of such people. God loved humanity so much that, even after defying him and resorting to sin, he paid the price of salvation by sacrificing his only son as atonement for sin so that his grace may be revealed to men and win people’s hearts back to himself. This is love of the greatest value. Thus, Newton in his song, Amazing Grace, describes this grace as precious. He sings “How precious did this grace appear, the hour I first believed” in the second stanza of his song.
The grace of God is amazing, as Newton puts it, since it can be revealed to anybody anytime, irrespective of their sinful nature. Indeed, it is the sinful nature of humanity that made God reveal his grace through the saving power of Christ, his only son. On the verge of sinking with the ship in the sea, Newton exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us” and the Lord delivered them from the raging storm. This convinced him that the grace of God appeared to him. Thus, in his song, he says that this grace has led him to overcome many dangers and snares and brought him safely home. This flows with Ephesians 2:4-5, where Paul reminds Ephesians that their salvation and deliverance was not merited but given through the grace of God and his favor for them.
Salvation that comes with the grace of God is not a reward for what one has done. After all, the reward for John Newton could have been destruction and punishment for the manner in which he had exploited the slaves and treated them with such cruelty. Yet God, in his fullness of love and grace, rewarded him by saving him from the death that was imminent. This grace saves and sustains. In the song, Newton indicates that now that he is a beneficiary of the unmerited favor of God, this grace of God shall forever lead him home. It is thus this grace that sustains him and he sings in the second last stanza of the song that the grace “shall forever be my shield”. This implies that his wealth, protection, ministry, and entire life shall be led by Christ, who beckoned on him while he was still lost. This is in recognition that it is Christ that has reconciled him from the power of death and made him a new creation.
The favor and grace of God are enduring and eternal. They overcome all the pleasures and creations on the surface of the earth to preserve one’s faith beyond temporal aspects of the carnal life. In his song, Newton recites the words that he so strongly believes in. He sings in the last stanza that “the earth shall soon dissolve like snow, but God who called me here below shall forever be mine”. In Ephesians 2, Apostle Paul speaks to the Ephesians and implores them to overcome all the evils associated with pleasure in the temporal aspects of this life and instead set their sight on the unmerited but eternal grace of God that comes with clinging to God who has redeemed them from the life of destruction and bondage to a life of freedom and eternity through Christ Jesus.
In conclusion, the musical work of John Newton on Amazing Grace is a reflection of how God considered him for salvation even though he did not merit it. This coincides with the teachings of Paul in the New Testament in the book of Ephesians 2, where he discusses in details how the grace of God comes with favor for anyone who believes. Salvation comes not by works but by grace from God. The artwork of John Newton thus helps in the understanding, interpretation, and explanation of Ephesians 2.