Verses 1-2 celebrate the rescue that God does for us by his grace. Verses 3 & 4 the pitfalls of Christian life and God's promise and provision - living by grace. And verses 5 & 6 look to heaven's joy, beyond the veil with Jesus - enjoying grace forever.
For what its worth I think Newton's orginal verse is better than the one we're all used to singing (which he didn't write). Let's go back to his verse six! His focusses on having God in eternity, whilst the oft apended verse (when we've been there...) seems more interested in us singing. Heaven is the perfect place and Jesus is at the centre of it. John Piper's question (in God is the Gospel) is most apt: would you be happy in heaven if Jesus was not there? The answer had better be "no".
If there is any weakness to Newton's song its the absence of the cross. And that is a fairly big issue! However that can be remedied by combining with other songs that are more explicit about that - and Biblical preaching that is nothing less than expository exultation in the glorious doctrines of grace which centre upon the cross of Christ. Not every passage of the Bible is equally explicit about the cross, neither need every song be. But the big picture needs to have that at its centre.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, Who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
The church is blessed with many great songs, many of them much forgotten. Cyberhymnal is a great place to discover some of those old lyrics. Dan Hames happily rediscovers many of these old hymns. Here and here. Bob Kauflin provides a strong lead in this and Keith Getty is writing many great new songs that both see and savour our great God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
tags: amazing grace | john newton | bob kauflin | cyber hymnal | worship leader | keith getty | worshipping trinity