Knowing God: The Grace and Mercy of God, Part 4.

“It is commonplace in all the churches to call Christianity a religion of grace. It is a truism of Christian scholarship that grace, far being an impersonal force, a sort of celestial electricity received like a battery charge by “plugging in” to the sacraments, is a personal activity—God operating in love toward people.”                                                        J.I. Packer

Dr. Packer in his magnum opus book Knowing God  sets forth four key truths regarding the grace and mercy of God. They are:

  1. The moral-ill-desert of man. Sinful man is fallen from God’s image, rebels against God’s rule, guilty and unclean in God’s sight, fit for only God’s condemnation. However, fallen man never grasps this truth. For the most part, he/she believes themselves to be pretty good.
  2. The retributive justice of God. Modern man additionally never grasps the idea that God is in anyway upset about sin: big or small. We sin, God forgives. It is what we do and what He does. If sin, someone else’s but especially mine, can be ignored as long as possible then that is okay. Punishment should be seen as the last resort. However, the Bible says that God is just and will punish sin and the sinner. God will do what is right.
  3. The spiritual impotence of man. Fallen man believes he can repair his relationship with God. A little penance if you please. Promises are made, but broken. Resolutions are aspired, but soon forgotten. However, the Bible says that “no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law” (Romans 3:20). Becoming right before God is beyond our ability to accomplish. It is a task we cannot master, no matter how hard we try.
  4. The sovereign freedom of God. God is in no way obliged to save anyone. Some sinners receive justice, some sinners receive non-justice (grace), but no sinner receives injustice from God. Even though we do not deserve it, fallen sinners believe God should help us. Isn’t that the fair thing to do? Remember, grace is not about being fair. It is about unmerited favor by God towards sinners.

Dr. Packer explains that, “the grace of God is love freely shown toward guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit. It is God showing goodness to persons who deserve only severity and had no reason to expect anything but severity. It is surely clear that, once a person is convinced that his state and need are as described, the New Testament gospel of grace cannot but sweep him off his feet with wonder and joy. For it tells how our judge has become our Savior.”

Hymn write Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote the following lyrics. I trust you can identify yourself with these words as I can.

But there’s a voice of princely grace,                                                                                        Sounds from God’s holy Word;                                                                                                       Ho! Ye poor captive sinners, come,                                                                                               And trust upon the Lord.

My soul obeys the sovereign call,                                                                                                  And runs to this relief;                                                                                                                           I would believe thy promise,                                                                                                         Lord, Oh, help my unbelief.

To the blest fountain of thy blood,                                                                                        Incarnate God, I fly,                                                                                                                             To wash my soul from scarlet stains,                                                                                           And sins of deepest dye.

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,                                                                                                Into thy hands I fall;                                                                                                                       Thou art the Lord, my righteousness,                                                                                           My Savior, and my all.   

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing God: The Grace and Mercy of God, Part 3.

“I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever!” Psalm 52:8

 In the immediate aftermath of Resurrection Sunday 2018 (Easter), there is bound to be a letdown following the activities of the preceding week and the fullness of yesterday. However, I discovered this devotional by Pastor Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892). I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Meditate today on the grace and mercy of God. Pastor Spurgeon writes,

 The Mercy of God.

 It is tender mercy. With gentle, loving touch, He heals the broken in heart, and binds 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 — infinite. You cannot measure it. His mercy is so great — that it forgives great sins of great sinners, after great lengths of time; and then gives great favors 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 saving mercy of the Most High God. Had the rebel been doomed at once to eternal fire — he would have justly 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 large — 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 John 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 you. If saved by sovereign mercy — mercy will be . . .
with you in temptation — to keep you from yielding;
with you in trouble — to prevent you from sinking;
with you in living — to be the light and life of your countenance; and
with you in dying — to be the joy of your soul when earthly comfort is ebbing fast!

 “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever!” Psalm 89:1.

Meditate upon the grace and mercy of God today.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Knowing God: The Grace and Mercy of God, Part 2.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Let us examine the grace and mercy of God by breaking this magnificent portion of Scripture into a biblical outline highlighting the Apostle Paul’s major points. Please know that this examination is just a brief overview and in no means does this section the justice it deserves.

First, what were we without God’s grace? Ephesians 2:1-3 says that we were spiritually dead because of our trespasses and sins. Living rebelliously against God was our normal way of life. We followed the course and pattern for life dictated to us by a fallen and godless world system of thought and philosophies. Additionally, whether we realized it or not, we were slaves and servants of the devil (Romans 6:15-19). Like many before and after us, we lived for the fulfillment of bodily passions and lusts and carried out what we thought about in our minds. Consequently, we were objects of God’s wrath.

Second, what did we become because of God’s grace? Ephesians 2:4-9 says that God, being rich in mercy because of His great love for sinners like us, made us spiritually alive. This was God’s work of grace and mercy. We contributed nothing, in and of ourselves, to our spiritual rebirth (John 3:1-8). It was solely a work by the Holy Spirit, based upon the sovereign grace of God through the substitutionary atonement found only in Jesus Christ.

God also made us citizens of heaven. This spiritual realm is where our spiritual blessings are (Ephesians 1:3), where our inheritance is (I Peter 1:1-4), and where our affections should be (Colossians 3:1-3). We are objects of God’s immeasurable grace and kindness and merciful displays of the same.

All of this is because of God’s grace, which is personally accessed to each believer by God given faith. Faith is trust in, dependence upon, commitment to and worship of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It requires repenting of your sin and trusting in Jesus Christ and receiving His righteousness as your own. However, the ability to repent and believe, both aspects of what is called conversion, is only possible by the God given faith from God.

Grace is grounded in God alone. Grace is grounded in God’s rich mercy. Grace is grounded in God’s great love, with which He (God) loved us (sinners). Grace is grounded towards sinners dead in their trespasses. Grace is grounded in God making dead sinners alive in Christ. Grace is grounded in God seating saved sinners in Christ Jesus in heavenly places. Grace is grounded in God’s immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward sinners in Christ Jesus.

We can boast of nothing and, independently of God, we contribute nothing to our salvation. Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Although men are required to believe for salvation, even that faith is part of the gift of God, which saves and cannot be exercised by one’s own power. God’s grace is preeminent in every aspect of salvation (cf. Romans 3:20Galatians 2:16).”

Finally, what are believers to now do by God’s grace? We are to now serve the Lord. God calls us to be His workmanship created for good works. Our good works do not produce our salvation but rather give evidence of our salvation (John 15:8; Philippians 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 2; 14; James 2:16-26). Like our salvation, our good works were ordained to be a reality before the creation of the world.

In which category do you presently belong? Are you without God’s grace? Have you received God’s grace? Are you living a life in honor and glory of God’s grace? Your answers to one or all of these questions are a matter of life and death and indicate whether you are truly living a life as God intended for you to live.

Consider these questions very carefully. Happy Resurrection Sunday! Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Knowing God: The Grace and Mercy of God.

“For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.” – Deuteronomy 4:31

I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” – Romans 9:15, 16

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” – Lamentations 3:22

“Do you know it was His mercy that woke you up this morning? Because His judgment should’ve killed you last night.” – Voddie Baucham

No one is redeemed except through unmerited mercy, and no one is condemned except through merited judgement.” – Augustine

Let’s assume that all men are guilty of sin in the sight of God. From the mass of humanity, God sovereignly decides to give mercy to some of them. What do the rest get? They get justice. The saved get mercy and the unsaved get justice. Nobody gets injustice” – R. C. Sproul

“Is God unfair in not choosing to save everyone? ‘Fair’ would send everyone to hell. You don’t want fair, you want mercy.” ~John MacArthur

“Justice is when God gives us what we deserve; Mercy is when He withholds from us what we deserve; Grace when He gives us what we don’t deserve.” – Harry L. Reeder III

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, wrathful, loving, just and righteous. The Bible also says that God is gracious and merciful.

The grace and mercy originating from and sourced in God alone is the motivation behind God’s dealings with the elect. Believers in Jesus Christ should have no confidence in their ability to come to Christ. Anyone who is a believer is so because of the sovereign grace and mercy of God.

Grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. God’s benevolence upon the condemned has two perspectives. Mercy is God “not giving” the believer in Christ what he/she deserves: judgment. Grace is God “giving” the believer in Christ what he/she does not deserve: salvation.

Puritan Thomas Watson writes, “Every link in the golden chain of salvation, is wrought and interwoven with free grace! God’s saving MERCY is free and spontaneous. To set up merit—is to destroy mercy. We do not deserve mercy, because of our enmity. We may force God to punish us—but not to love us! If God would show mercy only to such as deserve it—He would show mercy to none! Mercy is an innate propensity in God to do good to distressed sinners. Mercy proceeds primarily, and originally from God. He is called the “Father of mercies.” (2 Corinthians 1:3).”

Watson continues by stating, “God’s saving mercy is powerful. How powerful is that mercy—which softens a heart of stone! Mercy changed Mary Magdalene’s heart, out of whom seven devils were cast. She who was an inflexible adamant—was made a weeping penitent!”

“God’s mercy works sweetly—yet irresistibly. It allures —yet conquers! The law may terrify—but mercy mollifies. Of what sovereign power and efficacy is that mercy, which subdues the pride and enmity of the heart, and beats off those chains of sin, in which the soul is held!”

“God’s mercy is superabundant. The Lord has treasures of mercy in store, and therefore is said to be “plenteous in mercy” (Psalm 86:5), and “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4). The vial of God’s wrath, only drops—but the fountain of His mercy, runs. The sun is not so full of light—as God is of mercy. His mercy is over-flowing and ever-flowing. His mercy is infinite—without bounds, and without end. “His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136. Every time we draw our breath—we suck in mercy!”

When we meet tomorrow, which is Resurrection Sunday 2018, we will examine one of the most definitive biblical texts regarding the grace and mercy of God: Ephesians 2:1-10. I hope you will join me.

Soli deo Gloria!