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Welcome to part 2 of our Mercy series. Please be sure to listen to our last episode before joining us for this one.
But if you are returning for part 2, I hope last week’s discussion lit a fire in you that has been hard to extinguish. I pray you’re excited to continue your study of God’s mercy by better understanding how His mercy is gifted to us in salvation.
But I also hope you’re interested in joining me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Instagram for daily encouragement, challenge, and the frequent Brewsterism. If you try to worship God with your social media, I pray that I can help you do just that.
And don’t forget about our free episode notes, transcript, and mercy resources at CelebrationOfGod.com.
Now let’s get started.
Every Season we focus on an attribute of God and an attribute of salvation. When we discuss the parts of salvation, we distinguish between Desperation, Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification.
But today’s topic is not necessarily about Desperation — which is the salvation focus for the Season of Mercy. We actually plan to do four short series about Salvation during our next Celebratory Year.
Today, though, we want to look at God’s mercy as it impacts salvation as a whole.
Of course, that’s a huge discussion with so many repercussions, so I want to limit today’s discussion to seven observations concerning God’s mercy in salvation.
Also, since grace and mercy are so closely related, today’s points will refer to them both. Allow me to explain: If I deserve to live in darkness, but God doesn’t give me what I deserve, then the only possibility is that I would then be living in light. Of course, it would be appropriate to say that not forcing me to live in darkness was the mercy, and providing me light was the grace. As you can see, it can be difficult to talk only about mercy because not being given what I deserve necessitates that I also be receiving what I don’t deserve.
Our first point is . . .
1. We Gentiles deserve to be rejected by the God of Israel, but God’s mercy is also for the Gentles.
I wanted to start here because my assumption is that the majority of my listeners are not Jewish. If I have any Jewish in me at all, it comes from my Polish heritage, but even if it is there somewhere, I would be considered a Gentile, no questions asked.
When you read the Old Testament, it is evident that God chose the people of Israel to be His chosen people.
Now, God is the same God He’s always been, and even the Old Testament reveals how Gentiles could become part of the Children of Israel, but before Christ came, most Gentiles did not have access to the knowledge of God.
But in Romans 9:23-26 we read, “And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25 As He says also in Hosea, ‘I will call those who were not MY people, ‘MY people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’’ 26 And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not MY people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.’”
Thank you, God, that we deserve to be separated from Your chosen people, but You are so merciful that you have made a way for us to be your children!
My friends, I believe it’s too easy to believe that we deserve salvation. I remember when I was a child thinking that my parents owed me by virtue of the fact that they were my parents. It was their job to take care of me. Of course they would spend money on me.
In the same way, we’ve learned about the patient, loving, gracious, merciful nature of God — how could He not save us? But that is all backward! We must never take our salvation for granted because we not only don’t deserve it, because of our sin and rebellion, we deserve the exact opposite. But we’ll talk about this more later.
For now, I pray all of today’s observations humble us and overwhelm us in a way that some of us may not have experienced for too long.
For the next few points I want to start by reading Psalm 103:10-18, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer. 17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, 18 To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.”
2. We deserve God’s animosity, but God’s mercy grows from His love.
Titus 3:4-7, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Because we weren’t Children of Israel, because we were born sinners, we rightly deserved God’s hatred, but He didn’t pour His wrath on us, instead He washes us with His love.
Consider the implications of that on your life.
For thousands of years, each and every pagan who ever worshipped themselves by worshipping a made-up deity lived in constant fear that their lower-case-god might not be happy with them.
Every misfortune, every lightening strike, every sickness was interpreted as their idol’s bad mood.
When was the last time you lived in fear that Yahweh might hate you today?
Well, if you know anything about the God of the Bible, and you’re His child, that thought should never have come to your mind. But have you taken this reality for granted? The fact that most of you under the sound of my voice today don’t have to fear unsanitary water or the threat of a marauding tribe or getting sick from a disease easily treatable in first world countries have probably considered those realities from time to time and have been grateful for them.
But what about the fact that you don’t have to fear the animosity of God? I hope that cheers your heart today.
But we don’t merely deserve arbitrarily dislike or animosity. Our separation from God’s earns us consequences.
3. We deserve punishment, but God’s mercy does not give us what we deserve.
Verse 3 told us, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”
From the day you were born, God’s wrath justifiably lay on your head. You were an emery of His throne and deserving of all His punitive judgment. But God is merciful, compassionate, and loving.
Right now, in and of yourself, you deserve punishment for your sin . . . all of them. But if you are born again through the crosswork of Jesus Christ, you never have to fear receiving that judgement.
But I think we need to get more specific about this judgement. What punishment in particular do we deserve?
4. We deserve abandonment, but God’s mercy is everlasting.
Verse 17 reads, “The lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.”
When we receive God’s mercy in salvation, we can be certain that mercy will never fail. He’ll never capriciously take it back, turn around, and give us what our sin deserves.
Instead of leaving us alone and abandoned and people-less, God draws us to Himself for all eternity. We need never fear banishment!
How would the next three months be different if you lived in the reality that you deserve to be an outcast, rejected by all people, but God has not only given you friends and family who love you, but — more importantly — He’s given you the opportunity to be brothers and sisters with the Son of God and adopted into His family?
I should think that reality should have some significant impact on your daily life. For example, perhaps we should stop being so entitled when it comes to people treating us exactly how we think we deserve to be treated. Well, we don’t deserve anything from them. They’re a gift.
And what about those times we allow ourselves to feel anxious or depressed because “we’re all alone”? If we mediate on this grand reality — God’s everlasting relationship with us — we won’t feel so alone.
But we can get even more specific as to what our sin deserves.
5. We deserve death, but God’s mercy gives us life.
Romans 6:23 teaches, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
However, in Ephesians 2:4-5 we learn, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
I frequently remind myself and the people in my life that right here and right now we all deserve to be in Hell. Have you any idea how quickly complaining and griping and discontentment and entitlement and petty annoyance and self-worship absolutely dissipate in light of this truth?
God’s mercy needs to absolutely rewire our selfish thinking, and I pray it does as we study this beautiful reality this Season.
But check this out — not only does God make us alive, He makes us alive with Christ! We don’t just have life, we have divine, eternal life.
And that leads us to . . .
6. We deserve to experience the destitution of godlessness, but God’s mercy gives us an inheritance.
I Peter 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
On one hand we deserve destitution. On the other, God was so gracious to give us life that we should be eternally grateful simply to not have to go to Hell. A shack on the backside of the wilderness would be infinitely better than Hell, and we should be grateful for such.
But God is so merciful and gracious that He not only doesn’t give us death in Hell, He lavishes on us an inheritance that is imperishable and undefiled. He holds nothing back!
And yes, this is a future reality, but there’s a temporal aspect to this as well. It’s true all Christians aren’t rich and famous and healthy, and all the others things that humans view as success. But God has promised all of His children the same joy and peace and contentment and thanksgiving and others of His communicable attributes in full! It’s a foretaste of our eternal inheritance that we have unfettered access to eternal spiritual blessings right here and right now.
Think about how this truth could impact your day.
You never need to fear that you have to give in to sin. You can and should be experiencing peace. God wants you to have access to everything you need for life and godliness . . . the question is whether or not you’ll reach out and take the immense gift He’s offering.
My friends, we deserve to be separated from the chosen people of God, hated and punished by being abandoned to eternal death with no access to any spiritual blessing now or in the future . . . but God is merciful! His compassion desires to shield us from what we deserve!
However, there is one very important final point we must make today.
All along the way I’ve mentioned the fact that at best we take God’s mercy for granted by not meditating on it and being amazed by it. But at worst we actually are deluded enough to believe that we deserve God’s love.
And, yes, we’ve already seen a number of passages that make it clear that salvation has nothing to do with us or our works, but I believe it’s wise for us to acknowledge . . .
7. God’s mercy in salvation is conditional.
What do I mean by this?
Let’s consider Psalm 103:10-18 again, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer. 17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, 18 To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.”
Now, at first glance it may appear that since God is merciful and compassionate and loving to those who fear Him, that His mercy is conditioned on the fact that we have faith. And maybe that’s why we’re so entitled sometimes.
“I believe in God . . . He owes me.”
Of course, though we likely wouldn’t say those words, I wonder how many of us function off the delusion? Well, I don’t need to wonder about myself. I know I do all too frequently.
The reality is that faith is not something I do. It’s something that’s given to me. And it’s given to me as an act of merciful, loving grace.
Ephesians 2:8 and 9 teach, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Faith is a gift of God.
Listen again to Titus 3:4-7, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
And I Timothy 1:15-17 teaches, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
I love the doxology that takes the whole miracle of salvation through faith and places it at the feet of the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God Who deserves glory forever.
My friends, mercy is conditioned on God’s sovereign plan.
Romans 9:15-16 says, “For [God] says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”
If you’re following this train of thought then you will recognize the mile markers. We are pitiable creatures. We are blind, arrogant, suffocated by our own self-worth, and we do not seek after God. And yet God, for no other reason than He is Who He is and His plan is His sovereignly ordained plan from eternity past . . . He chooses to extend us the gift of faith. And when we are empowered by God to accept that faith, He shows us infinite mercy by erasing the condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and granting us grace whereby we are saved . . . not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy.
Dear Christians — followers of Yahweh, disciples of the one true God, worshippers of the God of the Bible — I implore you by that same mercy and with that same faith, let us deepen our knowledge, understanding, and passion for the mercy of God.
Whether this is the first time you have ever truly comprehended His mercy, or you are being reminded after a long hiatus, or God’s mercy is ever in your thoughts . . . we all need to deepen our appreciation for the God of mercy.
Please share this series on your favorite social media outlets so that God’s people can better worship Him.
And join us next time as we seek to better know, love, and serve God and help the people in our lives do the same.
To that end, we’ll be discussing the Lord’s expectation for how we are to mirror the mercy of God.
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