Stowe, Vermon Photographer: Patrick from Barrington, RI, Moretown, VT, United States
Do you ever feel like you are unusable by God? Do you believe you have fallen into the same sin too many times to continue to be used by God? Do you believe you are not worthy to serve God?
From the scriptures we find out that we are all sinners, and we all have failed God. We find out that none of us are really worthy to serve God. We find out that there is not good people and bad people, but instead sinners and redeemed people. We see that God redeems people, He takes their sin away, and then gives them righteousness through the cross. Martin Luther calls this the great exchange “This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.” There is no sin (or amount of sins) that is more powerful than God’s forgiveness through the cross.
John Newton, a former Captain of slave ships once said “I am a great sinner, but I have a great Saviour.” It took John Newton 34 years after he retired from the slave trade to break his silence in his participation of that evil. His letter was sent to MP’s “a confession, which…comes too late…It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”
If you know who John Newton is, then you know John newton was still used by God despite his past. John Newton helped participate in the abolitionist movement with William Wilberforce. Newton also came up with one of the most revered hymns in Christendom, Amazing Grace. Jonathan Aitken a Newtonian biographer estimates the song Amazing grace is performed around 10 million times annually to this day.
John Newton was by no means the first person with a very checkered past that was used by God. We see plenty of examples in the Bible. It is helpful to remember all of the bad failures and sinners in the Bible that God used.
Let’s take a look at a few:
-Adam saw God face to face and still disobeyed him.
-Noah got completely drunk after the flood.
-God chose Gideon (at first an unwilling coward) to be a military general for Israel.
-Moses had a massive temper. He beat some guy to death with his fists. He was livid at Israel for making the Golden Calf, so he made them burn the golden calf into dust, and then made them all mix the dust with water and drink it as punishment. (God did not tell Him to do this.)
-King David “a man after God’s heart” slept with another man’s wife, and killed her husband to conceal the pregnancy. He also wasn’t a very good father. Later on, we see one of His Son’s raises a rebellion to try to kill him.
-King Solomon, who God personally spoke to Him about granting unparalleled wisdom, who wrote much of the Proverbs, had over 700 wives and 300 concubines. He also worshipped other gods.
-Rahab was a prostitute at the time God used her.
-Mathew was a tax collector. (much different in antiquity, they would pay a fee so that they could have rights to extort money from their own people)
-Peter denied he knew Jesus 3 times to his face, right before Jesus was going to go to the cross to die for his sins.
-The apostle Paul, wrote two thirds of the New Testament, but before that he instigated and murdered Christians, including Stephen an important deacon in the early church.
Time and time again we see God using flawed and wicked individuals. God is in the business of redeeming, changing, and using people for good.