In Bible study and sermon preparation I sometimes encounter topics scarcely addressed by writers both in and out of the Lord’s church. This conclusion is based upon the sources for study that I have at my disposal, and in thirty-five years of preaching I’d like to think those sources fairly adequate. For example, in trying to study the topic of God’s mercy, I could hardly find a lesson or sermon on the subject. If I had needed information about God’s judgment, justice and wrath, I could have found a wealth of material to read. That’s fine. We need more teaching on these matters.
Sometimes people say to me, “You need to preach more hell-fire and brimstone sermons.” They remember those preachers of yesteryear who scared them royally, and feel that the current generation needs a good dose of godly fear. I agree. All things considered, I always preach the Bible, and that certainly includes its fiery elements, but is not limited to such. On the other hand no one has ever said to me, “You need to preach more love, mercy and grace sermons.” Why not? Does the Bible not teach such? Do we not need to hear it? Indeed, Paul preached God’s love, mercy and grace: God…is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, [by grace ye are saved] (Eph. 2:4-5, emphasis mine). Can we possibly be saved without it? We all stand somewhat in the position of the publican, who “…standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk. 18:13). We ought to be shouting it from the rooftops!
Mercy is mentioned in the Old Testament often as the “lovingkindness” of the Creator (Psa. 25:6; 51:1). Akin to this is the expression “tender mercies” (Psa. 25:6; 51:1). One of the Hebrew words employed is a verb that denotes parental affection, and the noun emphasizes maternal feeling. It is always rendered tender mercies, because there is no feeling in human nature that is stronger than a mother’s love for her children.
SOME CHARACTERTISTS OF DIVINE MERCY
- Divine mercy is universal. All men are the objects of God’s mercy. This is why Jesus gave the Great Commission to the apostles (Mt. 28:18-20). They took the merciful message of salvation to every creature under heaven (Col. 1:23). Paul said that it even came to him, chief among sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).
- Divine mercy is indestructible. A parent never ceases to love a child. Even if that child should become ever so rebellious, but returns home, he is received with rejoicing, as was the prodigal son. So it is with God’s mercy. It is everlasting.
- Divine mercy is perfectly consistent with God’s holiness, and therefore with his hatred of sin; with his justice, and therefore his determination to punish the ungodly eternally (Rom. 3:25-26; 2 Thes. 1:7-12).
by Dennis Gulledge