Jesus is great and I am not
âIncredible grace, like the sweet sound that saved a wretch like me. I was once lost but now I am found, I was blind but now I see.
These words from the hymn “Amazing Grace” are so familiar that it’s almost difficult to read them without humming that timeless tune. John Newton, the former slave trader who met Christ and then became a faithful pastor for four decades, experienced firsthand the overwhelming mercy of God’s grace. Towards 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: âWhen 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 educated who learns these two lessons.
I am a sinner. He is the all-sufficient Savior.
As a local pastor, who continues to draw on Newton’s âtwo lessonsâ daily, I am grateful.
every few weeks for the opportunity to raise the “sweet sound” of grace and
truth of Jesus in this column. There is simply no one like him. Even the skeptics and
atheists must recognize the deep and positive influence that Jesus and his teaching
have had across our world.
I approach Jesus from a certain point of view. I am a person who, like Newton, has
met Christ personally and who believes he is more than just a positive role
model – he is the only Son of God, the Messiah; indeed, he is the Lamb of God who
take away the sin of the world. This 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 see themselves as good
people. This is not the message of the gospel. Those who consider themselves good
have little real need for Jesus. It’s the sinners and the broken who know they need a mighty
and tender Savior.
In March 1861, the great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, spoke to the
dedication of his new church in London, the Metropolitan Tabernacle. That day he
said, “I would suggest that the subject of the ministry in this house, as long as this
the platform will stand, and as long as this house is frequented by worshipers, it
be the person of Jesus.
Spurgeon also said: âI am never ashamed to call myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate
take the name of Baptist; but if someone asks me what my creed is, I say, “It’s Jesus Christ.”
Jesus who is the sum and substance of the Gospel, who in him is all theology, the
the embodiment of all precious truth, the glorious embodiment of the way, of the truth and
I’m certainly not the very gifted Charles Spurgeon, and I’m not talking about the
Metropolitan tabernacle. But I join with Spurgeon in saying (with a slight change): “I
I am never ashamed to admit that I am a Calvinist; I don’t hesitate to take the name
Presbyterian; but if I am asked what my creed is, I answer: “It is Jesus Christ” who is the
sum and substance of the gospel.
We need more of Jesus, all of us. Jesus is all that sinful and broken people like you and I need. There is no greater joy than knowing him and resting in him.
James Calderazzo is pastor of the Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Destin.