Posts Tagged ‘John Newton’

The Wednesday Word: Saved and Safe

“They shall Never Perish” John 10:28.

“Did Jesus once upon thee shine?

Then Jesus is forever thine.”

William Hammond

There is no need for believers to fear death or judgment. Our advocate and Judge are one and the same (2 Timothy 4:1). We are, therefore, saved and we are safe (1 John 2:1).

John Newton, the writer of Amazing Grace says of the safety of the believer,

“Rejoice, believer, in the Lord

Who makes your cause His own;

The hope that’s built upon His Word,

Can ne’er be overthrown.

Though many foes beset your road,

And feeble is your arm;

Your life is hidden with Christ in God

Beyond the reach of harm.

Weak as you are, you shall not faint,

Or fainting shall not die;

Jesus, the strength of every saint,

Will aid you from on high.”

We are both saved and safe! Those whom the Saviour has rescued can never be un-rescued.

Concerning people who believe that we can be saved and then lost, Spurgeon said, and I paraphrase, ‘Those who hold this view need to go up to heaven and set the angels straight on this matter. They need to tell them not to rejoice until the sinner dies and goes to heaven, because they may be rejoicing too soon. What if he repents but later falls away and is lost? The angels shouldn’t be so fast with their joy!’ (see Luke 15:10).

We are both saved and safe!

The purchased of the Lord cannot be unpurchased. If a person could lose their salvation, the following would have to happen …

l. They would have to perish, which Christ said could never happen (John 10:28).

2. Christ would have to cast them out, which He promised never to do (John 6:37).

3. Christ would have to leave them, which He said He would never do (Hebrews 13:5).

4. God would have to break the salvation “chain” of Romans 8:29-30 which clearly declares that every justified person will be glorified (that is, will enjoy final salvation).

5. The Holy Spirit would have to leave them, which is impossible since he is sealed unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

Salvation is the gift of God and God’s gifts are “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).

Christ gives His sheep the gift of eternal life (John 10-17-28).

Eternal life, therefore, cannot be temporary.

It is eternal life.

It is not provisional life,

It’s eternal.

We are both saved and safe!

When Christ Jesus hung upon the cross all the sins of His people …past, present and future were put away forever. Satan was dealt a fatal blow (Colossians 2:15). The work of redemption was finished. When Christ died, He died as the substitute for His people. If someone for whom He became a substitute can perish, then Christ is a failure.

But, we are both saved and safe and Christ is a success!

“But what if I mess up?”

Here’s some good news; Jesus is fuller of grace than we are of sins. Faith grasps this! It’s true that at times, we may not feel worthy enough to call God our Father, but the New Testament asks, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is Christ who died yeah rather has risen again who is now at the right hand of God making intercession for us” (Romans 8:33-34).

We are both saved and safe!

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee 

John Newton

John Newton (1725-1807)

John Newton wrote a song that told the story of his life. 1 Chronicles 17:16 was the verse that inspired him to write Faith’s Review And Expectation. The verse reads, “And David the king came and sat before the LORD, and said, Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” The verse of the song that reflects the 1 Chronicles passage reads this way – “Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”

You might be thinking “Wait a minute. That is not Faith’s Review and Expectation, that is Amazing Grace?how sweet the sound, that sav’d a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see!” To be sure, the song is Amazing Grace, perhaps the most beloved song of all times. The original title was Faith’s Review?.

But who is the self-proclaimed “wretch” who wrote the song? John Newton was born in London July 24, 1725, the son of a commander of a merchant ship which sailed the Mediterranean. In July or 1732, thirteen days before his seventh birthday, death took his saintly mother who had since his third birthday been his teacher and friend. He took the death of his mother hard. In fact, it became evident that he was bitter at God over his circumstance because he began as one author puts it, “a decline into rebellion and degradation that lasted until his 24th year.” At 11 years of age he went to sea with his father and made six voyages with him before the elder Newton retired. In 1744 John was forced into service on a man-of-war, the H. M. S. Harwich. The conditions on board were intolerable to him, so he deserted but was soon recaptured and publicly flogged and demoted from midshipman to common seaman.

Finally, at his own request, Newton was exchanged into service on a slave ship, which took him to the coast of Sierra Leone. He then became the servant of a slave trader and was brutally abused. Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had known John’s father.

John Newton ultimately became captain of his own slave ship. And what kind of captain was he? Lindsay Terry writes, “It is reported that at times he was so wretched that even his crew regarded him as little more than an animal. Once he fell overboard and his ship’s crew refused to drop a boat to him. Instead they threw a harpoon at him, with which they dragged him back into the ship.” But God intervened in Newton’s life and got his attention through a violent storm. The gale was so severe that all the livestock were washed overboard and the crew tied themselves to the ship to keep from being swept overboard. As he was attempting to steer the ship through the violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him. For the rest of his life he observed the anniversary of May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion, a day of humiliation in which he subjected his will to a higher power. “Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’tis grace has bro’t me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” He continued in the slave trade for a time after his conversion; however, he saw to it that the slaves under his care were treated humanely.

In 1750 he married Mary Catlett, with whom he had been in love for many years. By 1755, after a serious illness, he had given up seafaring forever. During his days as a sailor he had begun to educate himself, teaching himself Latin, among other subjects. From 1755 to 1760 Newton was surveyor of tides at Liverpool, where he came to know George Whitefield, deacon in the Church of England, evangelistic preacher, and leader of the Calvinistic Methodist Church. Newton became Whitefield’s enthusiastic disciple. During this period Newton also met and came to admire John Wesley, founder of Methodism. Newton’s self-education continued, and he learned Greek and Hebrew.

He decided to become a minister and applied to the Archbishop of York for ordination. The Archbishop refused his request, but Newton persisted in his goal, and he was subsequently ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln and accepted the curacy of Olney, Buckinghamshire. Newton’s church became so crowded during services that it had to be enlarged. He preached not only in Olney but in other parts of the country. In 1767 the poet William Cowper settled at Olney, and he and Newton became friends.

Cowper helped Newton with his religious services and on his tours to other places. They held not only a regular weekly church service but also began a series of weekly prayer meetings, for which their goal was to write a new hymn for each one. They collaborated on several editions of Olney Hymns, which achieved lasting popularity. The first edition, published in 1779, contained 68 pieces by Cowper and 280 by Newton.

Among Newton’s contributions which are still loved and sung today are “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” and “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” as well as “Amazing Grace.” Composed probably between 1760 and 1770 in Olney, England “Amazing Grace” was possibly one of the hymns written for a weekly service. Through the years other writers have composed additional verses to the hymn which came to be known as “Amazing Grace.” The origin of the melody is unknown. Most hymnals attribute it to an early American folk melody.

Newton was not only a prolific hymn writer but also kept extensive journals and wrote many letters. Historians accredit his journals and letters for much of what is known today about the eighteenth century slave trade. In Cardiphonia, or the Utterance of the Heart, a series of devotional letters, he aligned himself with the Evangelical revival, reflecting the sentiments of his friend John Wesley and Methodism.

In 1780 Newton left Olney to become rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, St. Mary Woolchurch, in London. There he drew large congregations and influenced many, among them William Wilberforce, who would one day become a leader in the campaign for the abolition of slavery. Newton continued to preach until the last year of life, although he was blind by that time. At 82, shortly before he died he said, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.” He died in London December 21, 1807 but left his executors instructions for his epitaph. It reads in part, “John Newton, Clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.”

Adapted from information by Al Rogers & Lindsay Terry


Source [Reformed Reader]

The Wednesday Word: Victory in the Blood

November 23, 2016 Leave a comment

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Rev 12:11

When sins devastate our communion with God, there is only one thing powerful enough to overcome all the accusations from Hell, …the Blood of Christ. This is how we overcome. As John Newton wrote,

“Be Thou my shield and hiding place,

That, sheltered near Thy side,

I may my fierce accuser face,

And tell him Thou hast died!”

As we grow in grace, we learn that, in failure, we have new opportunities to become conscious of the blood. When we look to the past, we see the blood. When we think of the present, we see the blood. When we think of the future, we see the blood. When Satan tells us of our defeat, we tell him of his. When he tells us our past, we tell him his. We boldly announce to him that Christ shredded and scattered his demonic troops at the cross, 2000 year ago. We remind him that he was defeated by the blood of the Lamb. We overcome by the blood when we declare what the blood has done. Our Victory is in the BLOOD.

Every spiritual blessing is in Christ! Try this one for size! Though sinners, we are entitled to plead “not guilty” to every charge. Why? Because of the blood. To do anything else would be to deny the reality of the Blood. Though we are guilty, our conscience is as completely at peace. We have learned to apply the Blood. No wonder we can now walk in victory! No longer are we pinned down by the accusing memories that fill us with remorse.

Do you remember the blood offering of Leviticus 4? It was to take care of any sins that were committed through ignorance (Leviticus 4:2). Many believers go about worrying about whether or not they are doing okay. They say to themselves, “Maybe I have not done enough good things?” or ask themselves, “Have I witnessed enough?” or “Have I prayed and given enough?” They are always worried about these things.

But, when Jesus Christ died on the Cross, His blood took care of all the sins that we know about and all those that we don’t know about. He has taken care of all the sins that we have ever and will ever commit. Knowing and applying this brings victory.

When Jesus Christ died and shed His blood, He took care of our sin and our sins. Notice, I said sin (singular) and sins (plural). His Blood legally blotted out our sin nature and covered our sins by casting them into the sea of God’s forgetfulness (Micah 7:19).

“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4:7-8). In the Gospel, both sin and sins are dealt with.

Jesus Christ has forever taken care of the sin nature of man by being reckoned as sin and paying the penalty of sin with His blood on the Cross. Jesus, the man, was considered as sin so that we will never have our sins charged to us again. That is victory!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

John Newton, William Law, Justification, and Sanctification

by Reformed Reader

Near the end of 1768 John Newton exchanged a series of letters with a pastor friend who had been reading William Law’s writings. Law, who died in 1761, was a priest in the Church of England who later became a private teacher. Law’s popular work focused on things like devotion, holiness, sanctification, and perfection. Newton’s friend believed that righteousness and sanctification were synonymous. In other words, in his reading of Law’s call to devotion, Newton’s friend thought his sanctification was his righteousness. He believed that if he wasn’t devout enough, sincere enough, or zealous enough, God would not accept him. In fact, he even was afraid that he would end up forsaking the Lord; he lacked peace, comfort, and assurance.




Read the entire article here.

A humble mind is required in order to interpret scripture

September 30, 2014 3 comments

Arthur PinkThird, a humble mind.

“This is an eternal and unalterable law of God’s appointment, that whoever will learn His mind and will, as revealed in Scripture, must be humble and lowly, renouncing all trust and confidence in themselves. The knowledge of a proud man is the throne of Satan in his mind. To suppose that persons under the predominancy of pride, self-conceit and self-confidence can understand the mind of God in a due manner is to renounce the Scripture, or innumerable positive testimonies to the contrary” (Owen).

The Lord Jesus declared that heavenly mysteries are hid from the wise and prudent, but revealed unto babes (Matthew 11:25). Those who assume an attitude of competency, and are wise in their own esteem, remain spiritually ignorant and unenlightened. Whatever knowledge men may acquire by their natural abilities and industry is nothing unto the glory of God, nor to the eternal gain of their souls, for the Spirit refuses to instruct the haughty. “God resisteth the proud” (James 4:6)— “He draws up against him, He prepares Himself, as it were, with His whole force to oppose his progress. A most formidable expression! If God only leaves us unto ourselves, we are all ignorance and darkness; so what must be the dreadful case of those against whom He appears in arms?” (John Newton). But, blessed be His name, He “giveth grace unto the humble”—those of a childlike disposition.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Wednesday Word: Misunderstood Matters about Grace -Part 2

The Wednesday Word: Misunderstood Matters about Grace -Part 2

Another thing about grace is that it is completely undeserved! I question if we really understand this. I suspect that many of us pay lip service to the undeserved nature of grace, but often the power of this truth has not permeated the depths of our being.

If we don’t believe that grace is entirely undeserved, we should consider how utterly worthless we were when grace first saved us. We were enemies of God and without strength (Romans 5:6, 5:10). We were as John McNeill graphically put it, “Ownerless dogs prowling the garbage heaps of humanity.” Now ask yourself this; have you, through the years, become so wonderful that you are now worth saving? I hope you answer no! The truth is that grace saves people who have absolutely, “no good thing” in them worth saving (Romans 7:18). If we think there is one good thing about us … one shred of perfect, unadulterated goodness that deserves to be saved, there is no room for grace.

If we believe in salvation by grace alone, we have recognized that we are, in ourselves, destitute of everything. We are in agreement with the scripture when it says, “the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” (Isaiah 1:5). Believing this, we have no difficulty accepting that grace both sent the gospel to us, and opened our eyes to it.

Grace is both the seeker and the finder. It was the personification of grace who sought and found Zacchaeus in Luke 19. It was grace that found Noah and by grace that Noah was saved (Genesis 6:8). Indeed, the sole reason that any of us love the Lord is because of grace and grace alone.

If God withdrew His gracious hand from us, then we would be exposed, naked and undone before the awful holiness of God. But grace saves those who cannot, by their own efforts, produce one continuing trace of goodness or even one suggestion of holiness that could recommend them to Heaven. This is good news for people like me! Grace is for the lost, the guilty and the hopeless. Grace is for those who were too weak to walk towards God, but who were abundantly energetic when it came to running away from Him. These are the only people whom grace saves!

By the way, in this day and age when absolute right and wrong have been almost entirely dispensed with, it is, humanly speaking, very difficult to get people saved since so few will admit that they are actually lost, incurably lost and entirely dependent on someone else to save them Why, after all, consent to someone else saving you when you don’t know you need to be saved in the first place? When it comes to evangelism, we can get people to raise their hands at the end of a meeting because they want to go to heaven, but let’s face it, who in their right mind wants to go to hell? This kind of ‘soul winning’ activity can often be a long way off from bringing salvation! Salvation is for lost people, for ruined sinners and for hopeless cases. Salvation is only for those who need grace.

The Lord gives us grace upon grace (John 1:16; James 4:6). In other words, we both start and continue this Christian life by grace alone. Grace is the great changer of lives and the subduer of indwelling sin. A man may spend his entire life trying to reform, but we are saved from beginning to end by grace, pure grace, righteous grace and that alone. John Newton, the author of the grand old hymn, “Amazing Grace”, said it like this,


“By various maxims, forms and rules-

That pass for wisdom in our schools-

I sought my passions to restrain,

But all my efforts proved in vain.


But since my Saviour I have known

Are all my rules reduced to one-

To keep my Lord by faith in view-

This faith supplies, and motive too.”



And that’s the Gospel Truth


Miles McKee

Minister of the Gospel

6 Quay Street, New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland, 

On the right Use of the Law

December 16, 2013 1 comment

Dear Sir,

You desire my thoughts on 1Ti_2 1:8, “We know the law is good, if a man use it lawfully,” and I willingly comply. I do not mean to send you a sermon on the text; yet a little attention to method may not be improper upon this subject, though in a letter to a friend. Ignorance of the nature and design of the law is at the bottom of most religious mistakes. This is the root of self-righteousness, the grand reason why the Gospel of Christ is no more regarded, and the cause of that uncertainty and inconsistence in many, who, though they profess themselves teachers, understand not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. If we previously state what is meant by the Law, and by what means we know the law to be good, I think it will, from these premises, be easy to conclude what it is to use the law lawfully.

The law, in many passages of the Old Testament, signifies the whole revelation of the will of God, as in Psa_2 1:2, and Psa_2 19:7. But the law, in a strict sense, is contradistinguished from the Gospel. Thus the Apostle considers it at large in his Epistles to the Romans and Galatians. I think it evident, that, in the passage you have proposed, the Apostle is speaking of the law of Moses. But, to have a clearer view of the subject, it may be proper to look back to a more early period.

The law of God, then, in the largest sense, is that rule, or prescribed course, which he has appointed for his creatures according to their several natures and capacities, that they may answer the end for which he has created them. Thus it comprehends the inanimate creation. The wind or storm fulfills his word or law. He hath appointed the moon for its seasons; and the sun knoweth his going down, or going forth, and performs all its revolutions according to its Maker’s pleasure. If we could suppose the sun was an intelligent being, and should refuse to shine, or should wander from the station in which God had placed it, it would then be a transgressor of the law. But there is no such disorder in the natural world. The law of God in this sense, or what many choose to call the law of nature, is no other than the impression of God’s power, whereby all things continue and act according to his will from the beginning: for “he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.”

The animals destitute of reason are likewise under a law; that is, God has given them instincts according to their several kinds, for their support and preservation, to which they invariably conform. A wisdom unspeakably superior to all the contrivance of mall disposes their concernments, and is visible in the structure of a bird’s nest, or the economy of a bee-hive. But this wisdom is restrained within narrow limits; they act without any remote design, and are incapable either of good or evil in a moral sense.

When God created man, he taught him more than the beasts of the earth, and made him wiser than the fowls of heaven. He formed him for himself, breathed into him a spirit immortal and incapable of dissolution, gave him a capacity not to be satisfied with any creature good, endued him with an understanding, will, and affections, which qualified him for the knowledge and service of his Maker, and a life of communion with him. The law of God, therefore, concerning man, is that rule of disposition and conduct to which a creature so constituted ought to conform; so that the end of his creation might be answered, and the wisdom of God be manifested in him and by him. Man’s continuance in this regular and happy state was not necessary, as it is in the creatures who, having no rational faculties, have properly no choice, but act under the immediate agency of Divine power. As man was capable of continuing in the state in which he was created, so he was capable of forsaking it. He did so, and sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. We are not to suppose that this prohibition was the whole of the law of Adam, so that, if he had abstained from the tree of knowledge, he might in other respects have done (as we say) what he pleased. This injunction was the test of his obedience; and while he regarded it, he could have no desire contrary to holiness, because his nature was holy. But when he broke through it, he broke through the whole law, and stood guilty of idolatry, blasphemy, rebellion, and murder. The divine light in his soul was extinguished; the image of God defaced; he became like Satan, whom he had obeyed; and lost his power to keep that law which was connected with his happiness. Yet still the law remained in force: the blessed God could not lose his right to that reverence, love, and obedience, which must always be due to him from his intelligent creatures. Thus Adam became a transgressor, and incurred the penalty, death. But God, who is rich in mercy, according to his eternal purpose, revealed the promise of the Seed of the woman, and instituted sacrifices as types of that atonement for sin, which tic in the fulness of time should accomplish by the sacrifice of himself.

Adam, after his fall, was no longer a public person; he was saved by grace, through faith; but the depravity he had brought upon human nature remained. his children, and so all his posterity, were born in his sinful likeness, without either ability or inclination to keep the law. The earth was soon filled with violence. But a few in every successive age were preserved by grace, and faith in the promise. Abraham was favored with a more full and distinct revelation of the covenant of grace; he saw the day of Christ and rejoiced. In the time of Moses, God was pleased to set apart a peculiar people to himself, and to them he published his law with great solemnity at Sinai; this law consisted of two distinct parts, very different in their scope and design, though both enjoined by the same authority.

The Decalogue, or ten commands, uttered by the voice of God himself, is an abstract of that original law under which man was created; but published in a prohibitory form, the Israelites, like the rest of mankind, being depraved by sin, and strongly inclined to the commission of every evil. This law could not be designed as a covenant, by obedience to which man should be justified; for long before its publication the Gospel had been preached to Abraham, Gal_48 3:8. But the law entered, that sin might abound; that the extent, the evil, and the desert of sin might be known; for it reaches to the most hidden thoughts of the heart, requires absolute and perpetual obedience, and denounces a curse upon all who continue not therein.

To this was superadded the ceremonial or Levitical law, prescribing a variety of institutions, purifications, and sacrifices; the observance of which were, during that dispensation, absolutely necessary to the acceptable worship of God. By obedience to these prescriptions, the people of Israel preserved their legal right to the blessings promised to them as a nation, and which were not confined to spiritual worshippers only: and they were likewise ordinances and helps to lead those who truly feared God, and had conscience of sin, to look forward by faith to the great sacrifice, the Lamb of God, who in the fulness of time was to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself. In both these respects the ceremonial law was abrogated by the death of Christ. The Jews then ceased to be God’s peculiar people; and Jesus having expiated sin, and brought in an everlasting righteousness by his obedience unto death, all other sacrifices became unnecessary and vain. The Gospel supplies the place of the ceremonial law, to the same advantage as the sun abundantly compensates for the twinkling of the stars and the feeble glimmering of moon-light, which are concealed by its glory. Believers of old were relieved from the strictness of the moral law by the sacrifices which pointed to Christ. Believers under the Gospel are relieved by a direct application of the blood of the covenant. Both renounce any dependence on the moral law for justification, and both accept it as a rule of life in the hands of the Mediator, and are enabled to yield it a sincere, though not a perfect, obedience.

If an Israelite, trusting in his obedience to the moral law, had ventured to reject the ordinances of the ceremonial, he would have been cut off. In like manner, if any who are called Christians are so well satisfied with their moral duties, that they see no necessity of making Christ their only hope, the law, by which they seek life, will be to them a ministration unto death. Christ, and he alone, delivers us, by faith in his name, from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us.

A second inquiry is, How we came to know the law to be good? For naturally we do not, we cannot think so. We cannot be at enmity with God, and at the same time approve of his law; rather, this is the ground of our dislike to him, that we conceive the law by which we are to be judged is too strict in its precepts, and too severe in its threatenings; and therefore men, so far as in them lies, are for altering this law. They think it would be better if it required no more than we can perform, if it allowed us more liberty, and especially if it was not armed against transgressors with the penalty of everlasting punishment. This is evident from the usual pleas of unawakened sinners. Some think, “I am not so bad as some others;” by which they mean, God will surely make a difference, and take favorable notice of what they suppose good in themselves. Others plead, “If I should not obtain mercy, what will become of the greatest part of mankind?” by which they plainly intimate, that it would be hard and unjust in God to punish such multitudes. Others endeavor to extenuate their sins, as Jonathan once said, I did but taste a little honey, and I must die. “These passions are natural to me, and. must I die for indulging them?” In short, the spirituality and strictness of the law, its severity, and its leveling effect, confounding all seeming differences in human characters, and stopping every month without distinction, are three properties of the law, which the natural man cannot allow to be good.

These prejudices against the law can only be removed by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is his office to enlighten and convince the conscience; to communicate an impression of the majesty, Holiness, justice, and authority of the God with whom we have to do, whereby the evil and desert of sin is apprehended: the sinner is then stripped of all his vain pretenses, is compelled to plead guilty, and must justify his Judge, even though he should condemn him. It is his office likewise to discover the grace and glory of the Savior, as having fulfilled the law for us, and as engaged by promise to enable those who believe in him to honor it with a due obedience in their own persons. Then a change of judgment takes place, and the sinner consents to the law, that it is holy, just, and good. Then the law is acknowledged to be holy: it manifests the holiness of God; and a conformity to it is the perfection of human nature. There can be no excellence in man, but so far as he is influenced by God’s law: without it, the greater his natural powers and abilities are, he is but so much the more detestable and mischievous. It is assented to as just, springing from his indubitable right and authority over his creatures, and suited to their dependence upon him, and the abilities with which he originally endowed them. And though we by sin have lost those abilities, his right remains un-alienable; and therefore he can justly punish transgressors. And as it is just in respect to God, so it is good for man; his obedience to the law, and the favor of God therein, being His proper happiness, and it is impossible for him to be happy in any other way. Only, as I have hinted, to sinners these things must be applied according to the Gospel, and to their new relation by faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has obeyed the law, and made atonement for sin on their behalf; so that through him they are delivered from condemnation, and entitled to all the benefits of his obedience: from him likewise they receive the law, as a rule enforced by his own example and their unspeakable obligations to his redeeming love. This makes obedience pleasing; and the strength they derive from him makes it easy.

We may now proceed to inquire, in the last place, What it is to use the law lawfully? The expression implies, that it may be used unlawfully; and it is so by too many. It is not a lawful use of the law to seek justification and acceptance with God by our obedience to it; because it is not appointed for this end, or capable of answering it in our circumstances. The very attempt is a daring impeachment of the wisdom and goodness of God; for if righteousness could come by the law, then Christ has died in vain; Gal_48 2:21, Gal_48 3:21 : so that such a hope is not only groundless, but sinful; and, when persisted in under the light of the Gospel, is no less than a willful rejection of the grace of God.–Again: It is an unlawful use of the law, that is, an abuse of it, an abuse both of law and Gospel, to pretend that its accomplishment by Christ releases believers from any obligation to it as a rule. Such an assertion is not only wicked, but absurd and impossible in the highest degree: for the law is founded in the relation between the Creator and the creature, and must unavoidably remain in force so long as that relation subsists. While he is God, and we are creatures, in every possible or supposable change of state or circumstances, he must have an unrivaled claim to our reverence, love, trust, service, and submission. No true believer can deliberately admit a thought or a wish of being released from his obligation of obedience to God, in whole or in part; he will rather start from it with abhorrence. But Satan labors to drive unstable souls from one extreme to the other, and has too often succeeded. Wearied with vain endeavors to keep the law, that they might obtain life by it, and afterwards taking up with a notion of the Gospel devoid of power, they have at length despised that obedience which is the honor of a Christian, and essentially belongs to his character, and have abused the grace of God to licentiousness. But we have not so learned Christ.

To speak affirmatively, The law is lawfully used as a means of conviction of sin: for this purpose it was promulgated at Sinai. The law entered, that sin might abound: not to make men more wicked, though occasionally and by abuse it has that effect, but to make them sensible how wicked they are. Having God’s law in our hands, we are no longer to form our judgments by the maxims and customs of the world, where evil is called good, and good evil; but are to try every principle, temper, and practice, by this standard. Could men be prevailed upon to do this, they would soon listen to the Gospel with attention. On some the Spirit of God does thus prevail: then they earnestly make the jailer’s inquiry, “What must I do to be saved?” Here the work of grace begins; and the sinner, condemned in his own conscience, is brought to Jesus for life.

Again: When we use the law as a glass to behold the glory of God, we use it lawfully. His glory is eminently revealed in Christ; but much of it is with a special reference to the law, and cannot be otherwise discerned. We see the perfection and excellence of the law in his life: God was glorified by his obedience as a man. What a perfect character did he exhibit! yet it is no other than transcript of the law. Such would have been the character of Adam and all his race, had the law been duly obeyed. It appears therefore a wise and holy institution, fully capable of displaying that perfection of conduct by which man would have answered the end of his creation. And we see the inviolable strictness of the law in his death. There the glory of God in the law is manifested. Though he was the beloved Son, and had yielded personal obedience in the utmost perfection, yet, when he stood in our place to make atonement for sin, he was not spared. From what he endured in Gethsemane and upon the cross, we learn the meaning of that awful sentence, “The soul that sinneth shall die.”

Another lawful use of the law is, to consult it as a rule and pattern by which to regulate our spirit and conversation. The grace of God, received by faith, will dispose us to obedience in general; but, through remaining darkness and ignorance, we are much at a loss as to particulars. We are therefore sent to the law, that we may learn how to walk worthy of God, who has called us to his kingdom and glory; and every precept has its proper place and use.

Lastly: We use the law lawfully when we improve it as a test whereby to judge of the exercise of grace. Believers differ so much from what they once were, and from what many still are, that, without this right use of the law, comparing themselves with their former selves, or with others, they would be prone to think more highly of their attainments than they ought. But when they recur to this standard, they sink into the dust, and adopt the language of Job, “Behold, I am vile; I cannot answer thee one of a thousand?” From hence we may collect, in brief, how the law is good to them that use it lawfully. It furnishes them with a comprehensive and accurate view of the will of God, and the path of duty. By the study of the law, they acquire an habitual spiritual taste of what is right or wrong. The exercised believer, like a skillful workman, has a rule in his hand, whereby he can measure and determine with certainty: whereas others judge as it were by the eye, and can only make a random guess, in which they are generally mistaken. It likewise, by reminding them of their deficiencies and short-comings, is a sanctified means of making and keeping them humble; and it exceedingly endears Jesus, the law-fulfiller, to their hearts, and puts them in mind of their obligations to him, and of their absolute dependence upon him every moment.

If these reflections should prove acceptable to you, I have my desire; and I send them to you by the press, in hopes that the Lord may accompany them with his blessing to others. The subject is of great importance, and, were it rightly understood, might conduce to settle some of the angry controversies which have been lately agitated. Clearly to understand the distinction, connection, and harmony between the law and the Gospel, and their mutual subserviency to illustrate and establish each other, is a singular privilege, and a happy means of preserving the soul from being entangled by errors on the right hand or the left.

I am, &c.

John Newton-Letter 30 from Volume 1 of The Works of John Newton

Announcements of Mercy

The Wednesday Word:  Announcements of Mercy


Have you ever asked yourself why is it that God’s people believe the truth of the gospel? The answer is simple. We believe because God persuades us that He is to be trusted (Numbers 23:19). Faith, real faith, has a divine foundation.

As believers, God Himself is our teacher and we learn from Him primarily by reading, listening to and meditating on His word. He is the God who does not lie. His word teaches us, for example, what His mercy is (Psalm 119:41). When trying to discover what mercy is we should let God speak for Himself.

Here then are some announcements from heaven that inform us of God’s stunning mercy towards us.


“The Lord is long suffering and of great mercy” (Numbers 14:18).

“His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).

“Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee” (Psalm 86:5).

“Thou art a God full of compassion and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15).

“Thy mercy is great unto the heavens” (Psalm 57:10).

“His tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:9).

” He retains not his anger forever, because he delights in mercy” (Micah 7:18).

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6).

“God, — is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he hath loved us, even when we were dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:4).

“According to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5).


These are but a few announcements concerning mercy from the One who cannot lie and each of these announcements are faithful and true. Each of them is fresh and life giving! Beware of saying, “I know these verses! What use is it to read and meditate on them?” When I hear words like that, I catch the sound of alarm bells! This is the thinking of someone who has become too familiar with the gospel and his familiarity is blocking the life of the Word from reaching his soul. This kind of familiarity with the things of God is a spiritual death sentence!

The announcements listed above are declarations of the riches of God’s mercy! Through the gracious ministry of the Holy Spirit, we read them as if it were the first time we have heard them. The mind of God towards us is wrapped up in these faithful announcements, and it is out of words like these that the Spirit ministers grace and peace to us. These verses are God’s personal messengers to us. If they don’t minister peace to you, read them again. If you still can’t find peace through them, read them again. If you still find nothing, meditate on them again for, “The word of God is quick and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29).

John Newton, the writer of the classic hymn, ‘Amazing Grace’ was a man who lived in the life of the scriptures. He knew a thing or two about mercy! Right before he died, he said to a friend, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Saviour.”

Newton was a man who had listened to and believed the Divine Announcements. He never forgot that he owed his redemption entirely to the mercy of God. He made this clear in the following epitaph he wrote for himself and had written on his tomb.


‘John Newton

Once an Infidel and Libertine,

A Servant of Slaves in Africa,

Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

Preserved, restored and pardoned,

And appointed to preach the faith

He had long laboured to destroy.’


And that’s the Gospel Truth

Miles McKee,

Minister of the Gospel

Faith and Prayer will make the Minister

Your inquiries respecting my own experience on this subject, must be answered very briefly. I have long since learnt, that if I was ever to be a minister, faith and prayer must make me one. I desire to seek the Lord’s direction, both in the choice and management of subjects; but I do not expect it in a way of extraordinary impulse, but in endeavoring to avail myself, to the best of my judgment, of present circumstances. The converse I have with my people, usually suggests what I am to preach to them. At first, my chief solicitude used to be, what I should find to say: I hope it is now, rather that I may not speak in vain. For the Lord has sent me here, not to acquire the character of a ready speaker, but to win souls to Christ, and to edify his people. As to preparation, I make little use of books, excepting the Bible and Concordance. Though I preach without notes, I most frequently write more or less upon the subject. Often when I begin, I am at a loss how I shall proceed; but one thing insensibly offers after another, and, in general, I believe the best and most useful parts of my sermon occur de novo while I am preaching. This reminds me of Luther’s maxim, Bene precasse est bene studuisse. When I can find my heart in frame and liberty for prayer, every thing else is comparatively easy.

I should be very glad if any thing I have offered may afford you satisfaction. The sum of my advice is this:–Examine your heart and views: Can you appeal to Him who knows all things, concerning the sincerity of your aim, that you devote yourself to the work of the ministry, not for worldly regards, but with an humble desire to promote the Redeemer’s kingdom? If so, and his providence has thus far concurred with you, trust him for your sufficiency of every kind, and he will not disappoint you, but will be near to strengthen you according to your day. Depend not upon any cisterns you can hew out for yourself, but rejoice that you have liberty to come to the fountain that is always full, and always flowing. You must not expect a mechanical sufficiency, such as artificers acquire by habit and exercise in their business. When you have preached well nineteen times, this will be no security for the twentieth. Yea, when you have been upheld for twenty years, should the Lord withhold his hand, you would be as much at a loss as at first. If you lean upon books or men, or upon your own faculties and attainments, you will be in fear and in danger of falling continually. But if you stay yourself upon the Lord, he will not only make good your expectations, but in time will give you a becoming confidence in his goodness, and free you from your present anxiety.

One thing more I must mention as belonging to the subject: That a comfortable freedom for public service depends much upon the spirituality of our walk before God and man. Wisdom will not dwell with a trifling, an assuming, a censorious, or a worldly spirit. But if it is our business, and our pleasure, to contemplate Jesus, and to walk in his steps, he will bless us: we shall be like trees planted by a constant stream, and he will prosper the work of our hands.

John Newton-Letter 2 Extract of a Letter to a Student in Divinity.

The Chief Way to Attain Wisdom

The chief means for attaining wisdom, and suitable gifts for the ministry, are the holy Scriptures, and prayer. The one is the fountain of living water, the other the bucket with which we are to draw. And I believe you will find, by observation, that the man who is most frequent and fervent in prayer, and most devoted to the word of God, will shine and flourish above his fellows. Next to these, and derived from them, is meditation. By this, I do not mean a stated exercise upon some one particular subject, so much as a disposition of mind to observe carefully what passes within us and around us, what we see, hear, and feel, and to apply all for the illustration and confirmation of the written word to us. In the use of these means, and an humble dependence upon the Lord in all the changing dispensations we pass through our spiritual experience will enlarge: and this experience is the proper fund of our ministerial capacity, so far as it may be considered inherent in us: Pro_16:23; Mat_13:52; 1Jo_66 1:3.

These means are of universal importance. The wisest can do nothing without them, the weakest shall not use them in vain. There are likewise subordinate means, which may be healthful, and should in general be attended to: yet they ought not, I apprehend, to be considered as a sine qua non in a minister’s call and fitness. The first preachers had them not, and some in the present day are enabled to do well without them. Under this head, I principally intend all that comes under the usual denomination of literature. A competent acquaintance with the learned languages, history, natural philosophy, &c. is very desirable. If these things are held in a proper subservience, if they do not engross too much of our time, nor add fuel to the fire of that self-importance which is our great snare; they may contribute to increase and enlarge our ideas, and facilitate our expressing ourselves with propriety. But these attainments (like riches) are attended with their peculiar temptations; and unless they are under the regulation of a sound judgment, and a spiritual frame of mind, will prove (like Saul’s armor to David) rather cumbersome than useful in preaching. The sermons of preachers thus qualified are often more ingenious than edifying, and rather set off the man, than commend the Gospel of Christ.

As you desire my advice with respect to your future studies, I shall comply without hesitation or ceremony. The original Scriptures well deserve your pains, and will richly repay them. There is doubtless a beauty, fulness, and spirit, in the originals, which the best translations do not always express. When a word or phrase admits of various senses, the translators can only preserve one; and it is not to be supposed, unless they were perfectly under the influence of the same infallible Spirit, that they should always prefer the best. Only be upon your guard lest you should be tempted to think, that, because you are master of the grammatical construction, and can tell the several acceptation’s of the words in the best authors, you are therefore and thereby master of the spiritual sense likewise. This you must derive from your experimental knowledge, and the influence and teaching of the Spirit of God.

Another thing which will much assist you, in composing and speaking properly and acceptably, is logic. This will teach you what properly belongs to your subject, and what may be best suppressed; and likewise, to explain, divide, enumerate, and range your ideas to advantage. A lax, immethodical, disproportionate manner, is to be avoided. Yet beware of the contrary extreme. An affected starchiness and over-accuracy will fetter you, will make your discourses lean and dry, preclude an useful variety, and savor more of the school-lamp, than of that heavenly fire which alone can make our meditations efficacious, and profitable either to ourselves or our hearers. The proper medium can hardly be taught by rule; experience, observation, and prayer, are the best guides.

John Newton-Letter 2 Extract of a Letter to a Student in Divinity.