Newton on the Christian Life

John Newton (1725-1807), who is known for penning the hymn “Amazing Grace,” also has a well-known summary statement of Christian sanctification. It comes from a devotional sermon he offered at a friend’s house. According to Tony Reinke, the statement survives via the notes of one in attendance who jotted Newton’s outline down. We don’t even know the notetaker’s name.

Newton’s exposition was on Paul’s words, “By the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Cor. 15:10). Here is the outline:

I am not what I ought to be —
ah, how imperfect and deficient!

I am not what I wish to be —
I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good!

I am not what I hope to be —
soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection.

Yet, though I am not what I ought to be,
nor what I wish to be,
nor what I hope to be,
I can truly say, I am not what I once was;
a slave to sin and Satan;
and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge,
“By the grace of God I am what I am.” (HT Trevin Wax)

All Christians can surely agree!

About Pastor Matt

Matt Baker is the Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship Church.
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