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Life

Be a Pipeline of God’s Mercy

Sometimes when we are merciful toward others, we do it out of religious pride.  Other times, we do it begrudgingly simply because it’s the “Christian thing to do.”  But Jesus tells us that the foundation for our being merciful should be an overflow of love for how God has treated us:

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:35-36).

God is kind to the ungrateful and evil in that he sent his Son to die for us while we were still enemies (see Rom. 5:8-10). He was merciful while we were stomping all over his glory. So Jesus says, “the Father has been kind to you evil people, so you should go and be the same to others who are evil.”

We need to ask ourselves, “When am I not merciful?” I find that most often, I am not merciful in the mundane things of life. Don’t you agree?  We yell at people in traffic. We think other people shouldn’t be in line at Wal-Mart when we are.  We get angry at others because they don’t “respect” us.  We punish others emotionally and socially because of some sin they have done against us. We give people the cold shoulder who didn’t accomplish the “wonderful plan” we have for their life (one that really was an avenue for our own betterment).

We must strive to be merciful. Why? Because Jesus said, “The measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).  If Christ has saved you, you are an evil and ungrateful child of the Most High God.  He has given you so much mercy.  Don’t keep it all to yourself.

Categories
Theology

John Calvin on Mercy

Part 3 of a 4 part series. View series intro and index.

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It’s been said that because John Calvin preached election as a biblical truth, he could not have taught that God is merciful.  Some have written that Calvin’s view of God’s sovereignty distorts his attribute of mercy — that God cannot be sovereign and merciful.  Calvin’s God, people have said, must be an unloving God since he sends people to hell.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  John Calvin taught that the God of the Bible is a God of mercy.  In his commentary on Romans 4:5, he wrote:

This is a very important sentence, in which he expresses the substance and nature both of faith and of righteousness. He indeed clearly shews that faith brings us righteousness, not because it is a meritorious act, but because it obtains for us the favor of God. Nor does he declare only that God is the giver of righteousness, but he also arraigns us of unrighteousness, in order that the bounty of God may come to aid our necessity: in short, no one will seek the righteousness of faith except he who feels that he is ungodly; for this sentence is to be applied to what is said in this passage — that faith adorns us with the righteousness of another, which it seeks as a gift from God. And here again, God is said to justify us when he freely forgives sinners, and favors those, with whom he might justly be angry, with his love, that is, when his mercy obliterates our unrighteousness.

Calvin taught that God’s anger has a “long wick,” so to speak.  God is not quick on the trigger, but rather he is patient and kind and willing to forgive.  He wrote elsewhere, “God tolerates even our stammering, and pardons our ignorance whenever something inadvertently escapes us — as, indeed, without this mercy there would be no freedom to pray.”  Because God is merciful, sinners are welcome before God.

God’s mercy was a rock-solid truth to be depended on for Calvin, and he consistently taught and preached this to his congregation.  “The divine mercy,” Calvin wrote, “is a better foundation of trust than any life fashioned out to ourselves, and than all other supports taken together.”

No matter what life brings, the Christian can trust that “it is well with them, in the best sense of the term, when God is their friend.”  For the believer, God is truly a friend!  “Unbelievers, on the other hand,” he wrote, “must be miserable, even when all the world smile upon them; for God is their enemy, and curse necessarily attaches to their lot.”

Categories
Life Theology

Weekly Spurgeon

From Morning and Evening

“The mercy of God.”
– Psalm 52:8

Meditate a little on this mercy of the Lord. It is tender mercy. With gentle, loving touch, He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He is as gracious in the manner of His mercy as in the matter of it. It is great mercy. There is nothing little in God; His mercy is like Himself–it is infinite. You cannot measure it. His mercy is so great that it forgives great sins to great sinners, after great lengths of time, and then gives great favours and great privileges, and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great heaven of the great God. It is undeserved mercy, as indeed all true mercy must be, for deserved mercy is only a misnomer for justice. There was no right on the sinner’s part to the kind consideration of the Most High; had the rebel been doomed at once to eternal fire he would have richly merited the doom, and if delivered from wrath, sovereign love alone has found a cause, for there was none in the sinner himself. It is rich mercy. Some things are great, but have little efficacy in them, but this mercy is a cordial to your drooping spirits; a golden ointment to your bleeding wounds; a heavenly bandage to your broken bones; a royal chariot for your weary feet; a bosom of love for your trembling heart. It is manifold mercy. As Bunyan says, “All the flowers in God’s garden are double.” There is no single mercy. You may think you have but one mercy, but you shall find it to be a whole cluster of mercies. It is abounding mercy. Millions have received it, yet far from its being exhausted; it is as fresh, as full, and as free as ever. It is unfailing mercy. It will never leave thee. If mercy be thy friend, mercy will be with thee in temptation to keep thee from yielding; with thee in trouble to prevent thee from sinking; with thee living to be the light and life of thy countenance; and with thee dying to be the joy of thy soul when earthly comfort is ebbing fast.

Categories
Theology

Now You Are God’s People

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

– 1 Peter 2:9-10

God has chosen us in his foreknowing, predestinating, electing, wooing, justifying, sanctifying, and glorifying love.  He has made us a people for his own possession.  He has done this so that we can tell the world about the wonder and magnificence of his Son, Jesus Christ. 

For all those who confess Christ as Lord and Savior, who have repented of their evil deeds, who cast themselves down at the feet of Jesus, and declare themselves unrighteous and Christ as the only Righteous, they are God’s people.  God made them his people.  In his great love, he gave us mercy that we might call on Jesus to save us.  This unbelievable, scandalous, to-good-to-be-true mercy has changed the world. 

O, that we would love and sing in wonder at this matchless mercy of such a great Savior. 

Categories
Life

God, Be Merciful to Me!

Lamentations 3:22-23 says:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I was talking to my discipler from my summer project the other day. I told him how I am continually amazed at God’s mercy more than any of God’s other attributes. What is mercy? Mercy is what you don’t get when you do deserve it. It’s different than grace. Grace is what you do get when you don’t deserve it. In layman’s terms:

Grace gets you in to heaven.

Mercy keeps you out of hell.

That is a very humbling, amazing, mind-blowing thought. How wonderful is thy mercy, O God! I am an unworthy, wretched sinner and all I deserved was to be stillborn. If I died at this moment, God has done me no wrong! God has been putting in on my heart to wake up everyday (at least most mornings) and pray, “Thank you for not killing me in my sleep because that’s what I deserve! I praise you for another day to breathe!”

Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of theHoly Spirit.” God’s mercy saved us from eternal punishment and condemnation! How glorious is God’s mercy on helpless and hopeless sinners.

As I talked to my discipler, he reminded me of a passage in Luke 18 where Jesus tells a story about a Pharisee and a tax collector praying. The Pharisee thanked God that he wasn’t like the other “sinners.” He boasted of his fasting and tithing. The tax collector, however, stood afar and could not lift his eyes to heaven. Beating his chest, he said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” That was all the words he needed and that was all God needed to hear. This man, Jesus said, was justified rather than the Pharisee.

We don’t realize how depraved and gross our sin is. We barely comprehend how much it offends God. I want to grow to hate sin and be immersed in and amazed at God’s mercy every day.

As the old hymn says,

God be merciful to me
On thy grace I rest my plea
Plant us in compassion now
Blot out my transgressions now
Wash me, make me pure within
Cleanse, oh cleanse me from my sin

To that, I sing, “Amen.”