WONDERFUL THINGS: Jesus is great and I am not
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
These words from the hymn "Amazing Grace" are so familiar that it is almost hard to read them without humming along that timeless tune. John Newton, the former slave-trader who encountered Christ and then went on to become a faithful pastor for four decades, knew first-hand the overwhelming mercy of God’s grace. Near the end of his life, he summed up what he considered to be the most vital truth — not just for himself but for all of us.
Newton said, “When I was young, I was sure of many things; now there are only two things of which I am sure: one is, that I am a miserable sinner; and the other, that Christ is an all-sufficient Savior. He is well-taught who learns these two lessons.”
I am a sinner. He is the all-sufficient Savior.
As a local pastor, who continues to rely on Newton’s “two lessons” daily, I am thankful
every few weeks to have the opportunity to lift up the “sweet sound” of the grace and
truth of Jesus in this column. There is simply no one like him. Even skeptics and
atheists must admit the profound and positive influence that Jesus and his teaching
have had throughout our world.
I do approach Jesus from a certain perspective. I am a person who, like Newton, has
encountered Christ personally and who believes that he is more than just a positive role
model — he is the unique Son of God, the Messiah; indeed, he is the Lamb of God who
takes away the sin of the world. That last description of Jesus is found in the first
chapter of the Gospel of John, and it reminds us of something important. We are
sinners. Many people believe that those who follow Jesus think of themselves as good
people. That is not the message of the gospel. Those who see themselves as good
have little real need for Jesus. It is the sinful and broken who know they need a mighty
and tender Savior.
In March of 1861 the great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, was speaking at the
dedication of his new church in London, the Metropolitan Tabernacle. On that day he
declared, “I would propose that the subject of the ministry in this house, as long as this
platform shall stand, and as long as this house shall be frequented by worshippers, shall
be the person of Jesus.”
Spurgeon also stated, “I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate
to take the name Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.’
Jesus who is the sum and substance of the gospel, who is in himself all theology, the
incarnation of every precious truth, the all-glorious embodiment of the way, the truth and
I am definitely not the exceedingly gifted Charles Spurgeon, nor do I speak from the
Metropolitan Tabernacle. But I join with Spurgeon in saying (with one slight change), “I
am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate to take the name
Presbyterian; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ’ who is the
sum and substance of the gospel.”
We need more of Jesus — all of us. Jesus is everything that sinful, broken people like you and I need. There is no greater joy to be found than in knowing and resting in him.
James Calderazzo is pastor of Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Destin.