Amazing Grace is a song that everyone knows. I bet even your unbelieving family and friends know at least some of the words. What amazes me is that most people, even non-Christians, like the song.
Well, it is a good song. It is also a song that summarizes the Christian message very well. After all, it does seem to restate the key elements of the gospel. First, we humans are lost. Romans 3:23 tells us this is true for all of us. Secondly, we can only be saved by grace. This is the heart of the New Testament. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This is why we sing the gospel when we sing “I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.” This truly is amazing grace!
What about Old Testament believers? Would they have liked the song Amazing Grace? Would it have resonated with them like it does with us?
I often talk to people who think that grace is unique to the time after Jesus’ life on earth. While Scripture clearly states that no one is justified through keeping the law (Galatians 2:15-16), it is sometimes incorrectly believed that people had to earn their salvation through works in the Old Testament, while believers today have it easy under grace.
God is, and always has been, saving people by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 was as true for Adam, Noah, and Abraham as it is for us today. When we trust God and his word he promises to save us. He does not do this because we deserve it. God is under no obligation to save us. He does it simply because he chooses to do so as a show of his patient love and his grace.
In fact, the Old Testament law was about grace. It was God’s gracious way of providing a way for lost sinners who trusted his word to be reconciled to him. It was not the keeping of the law that saved the people. It was their trust in God’s word that saved them.
Today, we place our trust in God’s word that tells us that a final sacrifice has been made that is sufficient to save us all. Jesus Christ was crucified so that our sins could be atoned for. Faith is trusting God that this is true. When we place our faith in God’s word, he is gracious to save us. And this is how God has been saving lost people since the beginning.
Amazing Grace resonates with us because it is true. It would also resonate with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and every other Old Testament believer. Of course, this assumes they like hymns.