I was listening to the radio on Monday afternoon and at the time “Turning Point” was on 105.7 with David Jeremiah. He was talking about the life of John Newton. John Newton is the writer of “Amazing Grace” and has a very unique testimony to the Grace of God in the lives of mankind. Bear with me as I summarize the life of John Newton as told by Christianity Today. I encourage you to read his story in your free time and thank God for the grace He has shown to you.
Newton was nurtured by a Christian mother who taught him the Bible at an early age, but he was raised in his father's image after she died of tuberculosis when Newton was 7. At age 11, Newton went on his first of six sea-voyages with the merchant navy captain. Espousing freethinking principles, he remained arrogant and insubordinate, and he lived with moral abandon: "I sinned with a high hand," he later wrote, "and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others."
A few years later…the sluggish sailor was transferred to the service of the captain of the Greyhound, a Liverpool ship, in 1747, and on its homeward journey, the ship was overtaken by an enormous storm. Newton had been reading Thomas a Kempis's The Imitation of Christ and was struck by a line about the "uncertain continuance of life." He also recalled the passage in Proverbs, "Because I have called and ye have refused, … I also will laugh at your calamity." He converted during the storm, though he admitted later, "I cannot consider myself to have been a believer, in the full sense of the word."
After leaving the sea for an office job in 1755, Newton held Bible studies in his Liverpool home. Influenced by both the Wesleys and George Whitefield, he adopted mild Calvinist views and became increasingly disgusted with the slave trade and his role in it. He quit, was ordained into the Anglican ministry, and in 1764 took a parish in Olney in Buckinghamshire.
In 1769, Newton began a Thursday evening prayer service. For almost every week's service, he wrote a hymn to be sung to a familiar tune. Newton later combined 280 of his own hymns with 68 of Cowper's in what was to become the popular Olney Hymns. Among the well-known hymns in it are "Amazing Grace," "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken," "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds," "O for a Closer Walk with God," and "There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood."