Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 12 December 2014
Page 11

The Need for Mercy

Robert Johnson

“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). While we may ask for justice against others, we usually want mercy for ourselves. A dictionary definition of mercy is “kindness in excess of what may be expected.” This fits well with the New Testament term, which refers to the outward manifestation of pity. It assumes need on the part of the one who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of the one who shows it.

When it comes to forgiveness, God alone has the resources to offer mercy and kindness to us. He is the Father of mercies (2 Corinthians 1:3), and He extends it through His Son, Jesus. Our sin creates the need for mercy, as sin brings judgment (Romans 6:23). Those who come to Christ, who yield their lives to Him and submit to His will, can find God’s mercy, God’s forgiveness. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:3-4). The only way to God’s mercy is through the Son, and the way to the Son is submission.

Mercy, however, is not reserved for the alien sinner only. God’s mercy is needed by the child of God as well. Not one of us lives perfectly by the will of God. How many of us can relate to the parable Jesus told of the tax collector and the Pharisee, and say of ourselves, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13)? John reminds us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). God’s mercy is not an excuse to sin, but in Christ, it is pardon for sin. It’s not cheap grace, as we must repent and return; it’s God’s love, without which none of us could exist.

God’s mercy should draw us to a close relationship with Him, seeking to please Him, to follow His will and to live in and for Him. It’s the foundation on which Christian living is based (Romans 12:1) and finds its purpose. Are you hurting? Has sin wreaked havoc in your life? If you come to God, He offers mercy.

The Word of God Stands Forever

Robert Johnson

“One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker” (Voltaire, 1694-1778). If you don’t recognize the name of Voltaire, you aren’t alone. He was a French satirist and philosopher from the Enlightenment Era. He was not an atheist, but rather a deist, who denied God had given us any specific revelation (the Bible), and that He was not involved in any aspect of life beyond the original creation. His statement about Scripture stands to remind us of those who think they know more than God. The Bible is still known and read, while Voltaire, outside of university settings, typically is not.

I suppose every age has such “enlightened” folks who think that they know better than what God has revealed of Himself through His Word. More recently, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) aired a NOVA program entitled, “The Bible’s Buried Secrets,” which claims the Bible is not true. The producer of the program, Paula Apsell, was quoted in an interview as saying, “This program is designed for intelligent people who are willing to change their mind…it will give intelligent people who want to read the Bible in a modern way a chance. If we insist on reading the Bible literally, in 25 years nobody will read it any longer.” The spirit of Voltaire, which is the spirit of sin, is still at work in the world.

Notice how those who believe the Bible is meant to be understood literally are impugned as being ignorant, because “intelligent” people are willing to change their minds and “read the Bible in a modern way.” In other words, you’re intelligent if you agree with me, and not if you don’t. It reminds me of what Paul said almost two millennia ago. “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). The message of Scripture, especially of Christ and the cross, is disdained by those who have become wise in their own eyes and who think by their own intellectual abilities they know more than God. Yet all of the technical advances humanity has achieved pales into nothingness compared to the infinite wisdom of God. Paul also wrote, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). God has rightly said, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

I’m not clairvoyant, but I believe long after this program has been shown to be fallacious, as it is, Scripture will continue to be read, believed and lived. We have been born again, not of that which is perishable but imperishable, as Peter reminds us, by “the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). He went on to say, “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25). Like some in the first century, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). Like Voltaire, such statements serve as reminders of the power God has given to His living and abiding Word (Hebrews 4:12-13). Personally, I will align my life with the eternal and omniscient God. On the Day of Judgment, I would rather stand with the wisdom of God than the wisdom of humanity. “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).

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