The Gift

I did this paper for a class. I was surprised that the professor said it was excellent. So I decide to post this, because maybe it will mean something to someone else. 🙂

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch; like me!” We sang this song in chapel a few days ago. I will always remember the stillness that hovered over the chapel area. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit, I like to think that it was. Inasmuch the moment will stay with me forever.  The song is such beautiful poetry. The melody is soft in our ears and quick on our lips. I even  think that when we sing this song God is smiling from above. It is a sweet moment, I like to think of sharing moment with  God like that. You might not think of it like that, but if got me thinking about how we share these moment with God. How is it that sinful human beings are precious sights to God. Bottom line, I guess I am asking, how did we come across such  wonderful gift? This gift called grace.

In Called to Believe, Teach and Confess, Muller said, “Grace is delivered to and received  by individuals in certain way which are known as ‘the means of grace’, (p.312). Later it says that the means of grace are simply the Gospel. That is what is so wonderfully special about God. He never complicates anything. In past sections we talked about the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is “God, the agent who presents these facts to both my mind and my spiritual understanding so that they become both real and relative to me as an individual,” according to W. Philip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. So it only makes sense that “the Spirit conveys the grace of God to people,” (Muller. p. 312). Through the Holy Spirit we receive grace, even though we have done nothing to deserve it. Yet, how do we know we have such grace? It isn’t like the Holy Spirit knocks on our door and gives us a letter from God. The simplest way to explain  how we receive this grace is in Matthew chapter three. John the Baptist says, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”. We receive the grace at our baptism. When God claims us as his own, we are his. Through the water and his Word we are saved from all the sins we are going to do and have already done. “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

We are baptized because Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 23, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Go! That is what God tells us to do. My religion teacher in high school was once baby-sitting for this couple. As he and his wife were there, he turned to his her and said, this baby hasn’t  been baptized, do you think we should baptize him? At the time I honestly had no idea if they could actually do that. Because I have always seen a pastor baptize someone and so I just assumed it had to be a pastor. How I was so wrong. Jesus commands us to go out and baptize. We all have a right and duty to be like God to everyone. The promises that are fulfilled though baptism shouldn’t be limited if someone is not a pastor.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear.  The hour I first believed!” What a burden lifted, to know that no matter how many times we sin, and do wrongly by our neighbor or ourselves God forgives us all sins at baptism Not that this gives us a free ticket to sin boldly, but instead the reassurance that we can always come to him and ask for forgiveness. I remember in confirmation class one of the leaders spoke about baptism, and I loved his analogy. He said that baptism is like this beautiful gift given to us. He said that when you get a gift it means someone loves you and wants you to have it. No one normally rejects a gift, so why would you reject a gift from God.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Not only are we given the gift of baptism but also the gift of the Holy Spirit, and after reading that chapter in Muller about the Holy Spirit I know I would want him on my side. “The Lord hath promised good to me. His word my hope secures.” God always takes care of his children, because we are cherished object to the Lord.

He will my shield and portion be.  As long as life endures.” Grace is given to us, and just like any gift no one takes it away from you. God’s claim on you is forever.  John 10:10 reassures us of this, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” God doesn’t back off on his promises. We can expect that from others and ourselves because we are not perfect. However, we never need to question how far and deep God’s love goes for us. There are prime examples in the bible of this, John 3:16, Zephaniah 3:17, Ephesians 2:4-5 and Romans 8:37-39 which says  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess, within the veil, a life of joy and peace.”  When I was little I was always afraid of death. It seemed like such a risk to just know you were going to go to Heaven. However, it is the faith that keeps us from worrying. I mean we are all going to die at some point. It is far better to live freely from fear and know that God has everything under control. Though my human body will die at some point in my life I will be with God in Heaven, not because I choose it but God did. Psalm 139 tells us that God, he knew us before we were born, so he totally knows what will happen to us when we die. God saved us through his blood, he called us his own at baptism, and we will be with him forever.

Amazing Grace is a beloved song, sung in church numerous times. John Newton wrote the beautiful piece. So I did a little digging to find out little bit more on the person who wrote it. He was a sailor and spent a lot of time at sea. He didn’t have much of a faith, and most of that had to do with the fact that his mother died when he was a child. He was in  a storm and he cried out to God to deliver him. He later became a minister and later in life he wrote, Amazing Grace. Though it wasn’t intended to be sung at the time, it is today in many churches and gives others a way to worship and thank God for all he has done.  I wanted to submerse the lyrics into the paper in various ways for two reason. One, it is just too beautiful of a song to be forgotten and only sung in church. The second reason, is because it truly reflects on how a Christian’s struggle is, and how the Lord intercedes and gives us such a wonderful gift. So to end I leave you with the last stanza. To hold these words close. Knowing that God loves you and that no matter what happens He will be by your side. Thank you Lord.  “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”

Amen.

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