Christians seem to sing fewer hymns these days, but when they do, sometimes they tinker with the lyrics. Consider the change made to a simple hymn by John Newton: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound! That saved and strengthened me!”
There is a grace that strengthens, as we shall see, but Newton was talking about a grace that does more than strengthen; he was praising God for the grace that saves. In the original, therefore, Newton identified himself as the worst of sinners: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound! That saved a wretch like me!” Brian Abel Ragen comments: “While Newton believed that human beings were wretches, in desperate need of a Savior, these 20th-century adapters clearly believe that they and the congregations who sing their words are perfectly nice people.… They are not bad—certainly not wretches; they have simply lost their way. They are not wicked; they merely have a handicap—a dysfunction—from which they hope to recover.”1
Downplaying depravity like this inevitably has the result of minimizing the amazing grace of God. As Ragen concludes, “Grace is amazing because it saves wretches, not because it puts a final polish on nice people.… You cannot be saved if you are not lost.… You cannot be freed unless you are enslaved.”2
Philip Graham Ryken, 1 Timothy, ed. Richard D. Phillips, Daniel M. Doriani, and Philip Graham Ryken, Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2007), 18–19.
We have just released a new Bible Study on the book of 1 Timothy
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter And get a FREE copy of The Effective Bible Teacher
Download your free book here https://www.joshhunt.com/Effective.pdf