How John Newton Found God

“It took John Newton to write the hymn Amazing Grace. ‘Let me not fail to praise that grace that could pardon,’ he said, ‘such sins as mine.’

“Newton had gone to sea at age 11, apprenticed on his father’s ship. He spent his teen years learning to be profane, irreligious, and indulgent. Female slaves being transported from Africa were at Newton’s disposal, and even seasoned sailors were alarmed at his corruption. Newton’s life angered his father and disgusted his friends, and he was finally pressed into service for the British Navy. He deserted, but was arrested, stripped, and flogged. He became the property of a slave trader in Sierra Leone, who gave him to his sadistic mistress. John became a loathsome toy she tormented for over a year. He finally boarded ship for Britain.

“On March 9, as he carelessly read a Christian book to pass the time, the thought came to him, ‘What if these things are true?’ He snapped the book closed and shook off the question. ‘I went to bed in my usual indifference, but was awakened by a violent sea which broke on us. Much of it came down below and filled the cabin where I lay. This alarm was followed by a cry that the ship was going down. We had immediate recourse to the pumps, but the water increased against all our efforts. Almost every passing wave broke over my head. I expected that every time the vessel descended into the sea, she would rise no more. I dreaded death now, and my heart foreboded the worst, if the Scriptures, which I had long since opposed, were true.’

“The vessel survived the March 10, 1748, storm, and Newton began earnestly studying the Bible. He embraced Christ and eventually entered the ministry, becoming one of England’s best-loved preachers and a leader in the fight against slavery. He once recalled, ‘That tenth of March is a day much remembered by me; and I have never suffered it to pass unnoticed since the year 1748—the Lord came from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.’” —from On This Day

Shade Of His Hand (book review)

Most of Oswald Chambers’ books weren’t originally in book form, but were given as lectures or sermons which were recorded in shorthand by his wife. Shade Of His Hand contains the last messages given by Oswald Chambers before his death. It’s a series of lectures on each chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes.

For many people (even seasoned Christians) the message in Ecclesiastes in a challenging one. Solomon is the wisest man who ever lived, yet in this book of the Bible he records his observations of the world in what seems to be a very “non-Christian” (to use a New Testament term) sort of way. Then along comes Oswald Chambers with insight into this book unlike anything you’ve seen before!

One of Chambers’ longtime friends was David Lambert. Commenting on Shade Of His Hand, Lambert wrote, “Oswald Chambers interprets [Ecclesiastes’] message as being—Life is not worth living apart from Redemption. … Life apart from Redeeming Love is full of sin and sorrow, guile and cruelty, callous selfishness and numbing despair. This book takes full account of all that. It anticipates many of the problems facing the young life of today, and brings to their solution the one and only key, the realization of the Lord Jesus Christ in every relationship of life.”

Indeed, Chambers doesn’t flinch one bit in addressing the complex issues Solomon brings up, and he does so in a way that is easy to grasp for all of us. I read each chapter of Ecclesiastes before each chapter in this book, and then I re-read the same chapter in Ecclesiastes again afterwards. Wow, what a transformation in my understanding of the biblical text!

If you would like to gain some life-changing insight on this valuable book of biblical wisdom, I urge you to check out Shade Of His Hand.

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