How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost
But now I’m found.
‘Twas blind but now I see.
We sing it often, but is it true in our hearts? Are we really amazed by God’s grace?
One professing “Christian” political leader in Africa appears to be more amazed by what he calls “God’s wickedness.” In the African country of Ghana, Mr. George Ayisi Boateng, a founding member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has recently stirred controversy for publicly saying on radio that “God is a very wicked man” to have made Ghanaians Professor John Evans Atta Mills the nation’s President.1 The radio show, called “Democracy,” is hosted by a Lawyer named Ohene Gyan.
Without getting too embroiled in Ghuanian politics, I think we can all appreciate the frustration of having a man in political power who we believe is doing evil things. Also, I think we have all heard the atheists, such as the late Chris Hitchens, rail against God for allowing so many evils in the world. The odd thing, in this case, is that Mr. Ayisi Boateng of the NPP is not an atheist but a professing Presbyterian Christian. If he’s honest in his profession, then we have to wonder how he could say such a thing about God. According to news reports, he claims to believe in a neo-Gnostic idea that there are “two Gods,” one good and one evil, and that the evil God put John Evans Atta Mills in power.2 The other good God, it seems, was impotent to prevent this from happening.
The Bible says repeatedly that there is only “one God.” I Timothy 2:5, for example, says: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (See also Ephesians 4:6; James 2:19; I Cor. 8:6; Romans 3:30; Mal. 2:10.) The Bible also says, “[S]hall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10) Even allowing a bad political leader, the Bible tells us, is something God accomplishes in His sovereignty: “He removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21), and “God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another” (Psalm 75:7).
Also: “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33). Today, we might say, “The vote is cast into the ballot box, but the whole election thereof is of the Lord.”
Perhaps the reason we’ve become resentful of the “evil things” God allows to happen in our lives is because we are thinking too much like atheists and not enough like Bible-believing Christians. In a world immersed with humanism, we’re like fish that don’t realize how wet we are. Rather than railing at how mean we think God is for allowing Obama to be President, or whatever we’re upset about, we ought to be standing amazed again at the amazing grace of God that we have not received much worse for our own sins.
The song “Amazing Grace” has been sung so much in America that for many it’s become cliché. When was the last time you heard of a humanist suing for “separation of church and state” because the song was played at a former President’s government-subsidized funeral or the like? Humanists don’t care about the song so much because they know that even Christians don’t take the words that seriously. It’s become more a cultural song than a worship song.
In My Fair Lady, Professor Higgins sings about Eliza, “I’ve grown accustomed to her face.” He had gotten so used to having her around that he confesses to himself how he took her for granted. When she leaves, he’s not sure how he can cope without her. “I’ve grown accustomed to her face.”
Nowadays, it seems we have grown accustomed to God’s grace. We expect it. When Jesus forgives Mary Magdalene, we nod our heads in approval. But when Ananias and Sapphira die for lying to the Holy Spirit, then we are amazed. Our stunned silence shifts to indignation. The question blasts through our minds, “How could God be so mean?”
The Scripture rebukes us. “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” Romans 9:14.
We have come to expect God’s grace as if it were something we deserved. But the very point of grace is that it is undeserved. It is graciously given on no merit of our own.
Could it be that we take God’s grace for granted because we are strangers to God’s Law? Do we know His justice? Do we know what we really deserve?
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
[get_product id=”94″ align=”right” “medium”]Do we share with the psalmist such an appreciation for the Law of the Lord? Can we say, “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day”? Psalm 119:97. The Law awakes us to the holy and just character of God. The Law shows us how exceedingly seeped in sin are our hearts. “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Romans 7:7b.
Thus, only by becoming accustomed to the justice of God revealed in His Law-Word may we once again become amazed at the grace of God. Only when we grasp our wretchedness, and how deserving we are of his condemnation, may the thought of His undeserved grace prick our hearts.