Selected from the book, “If God is Good” by Randy Alcorn.   I am reading this book for our 8 week small group study which the church is sponsoring.  When I came to this story of John Newton, I wanted to share it with all my readers.

“In 1750 at age twenty-five,  John Newton commanded an English slave ship.  He anchored off the African coast, purchasing natives taken captive by rival tribes. Newton’s men took the terrified slaves abroad and chained them below decks in two-foot-high pens to prevent suicides.  As many as six hundred lay side by side like fireplace logs, row after row.  There were no toilet facilities or ventilation. The stench was indescribable.  They sailed from Africa to Caribbean, selling the slaves for molasses, rum, and other valuables.

Like other captains, Newton allowed his crew to rape female slaves, as Newton did himself.  Newton blasphemed God and engaged in brutality and immorality.

As a young crewman, when his ship nearly sank, Newton professed Christ.  But he spent years committing evil before he experienced a true conversion.  He left the slave trade and felt increasing remorse for what he’d done.  For the last half of his life he pastored a church near London, where he preached the gospel, taught the Scriptures, and eventually spoke against the slave trade.  Newton encouraged a young parliamentarian William Wilberforce in his battle to outlaw slavery.

At age eighty-two, shortly before his death, a physically blind and spiritually sensitive John Newton said, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Saviour.”

Newton’s tombstone reads,  “John Newton…once an infidel…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.”

Newton wrote hundreds of hymns, the most famous of which is the most popular song among Christians throughout the world.

“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.”

While Newton may appear  an extreme case, the Bible teaches that all of us are evil-lovers and evil doers, blind wretches in desperate need of God’s transforming grace.”

We may not do what Newton did but we all are equal with him in that all of us have sinned.  We are all sinners in need of God’s grace.  All of us have fallen far short of the mark which God has set and that is His Son, Jesus.

Paul in his Ephesian letter writes: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–and not by works, so that no one can boast.”  2:8-9


  1. It is indeed an awesome God that can save such a sinner. We all are sinners and we are Saved Praise the Lord

  2. Today 160 people signed up to participate in “The STORY” which covers the entire Bible in 9 months. Starting with Genesis there is always questions. After the fall of man the rest of the Bible is really about “redemption”. God in His Mercy and Grace provides a plan to get us out of our sin. Christ is spoken as our redeemer in Genesis 3:15. Dan says that the devil’s job is to accuse us or tempt us to test us. We have free will to choose to follow evil or good. The devil says to Eve,” Did God really say you shouldn’t eat of this one tree?” See how he tempted her and Adam was right there with her.James 1:12 says we must go through sufferings to test us and our reward is eternity with God..

  3. Dear Max, each time I read one of your devotionals , I say”this one is my favorite” . I am so thankful that I can say that I am SAVED,by the grace of God. Jesus died for me as He did for all manklnd .Thank you for being so faithful to share these words with so many, and serving in other ways . You will never know how many people are blessed by these devotionals, as I have been.

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