God of Mercy


Did you ever get caught doing something you shouldn’t? Has a policeman ever stopped you for speeding while you were driving? What were you hoping for when you got caught? Mercy, right? Did you ever hurt someone by accident? What were you hoping for when you begged forgiveness? Mercy is what we hope for each time we do wrong.

Remember that near accident you almost had? Remember those times when several bad things could have happened to you but didn’t? Who in the world do you think protected you or shielded you from harm during those times? It was our merciful God.

Joel 2:13 …the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

What is mercy? It is refraining from inflicting suffering or punishment by one who has the right and power to inflict it.

God is often referred to as gracious and merciful; however, grace and mercy are not the same thing. Grace is God doing something for me or in me that I cannot do without Him. For examples, I cannot save myself and I cannot act like Jesus. God saves me by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ and by His grace the Holy Spirit enables me to act like Jesus. Whereas, God shows mercy to me by not sending me to Hell or sparing me from experiencing the full consequences of my sin.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

In other words, through faith in Jesus Christ, God shows us mercy for who we are and what we have done, and He gives us grace to become like Jesus and to do what He does.

This morning we are going to try and grasp just how merciful is the LORD.

Exodus 34:6-8 The LORD passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.

We find here that God reveals His character to Moses. God is both just and merciful. When God says He is merciful, He is saying to us that His gaze upon us is one of tender compassion. However, God’s mercy does not mean that He will set aside justice. He will not and He does not turn a blind eye to sin. God will not clear nor cleanse those who refuse to repent of their sin.

Justice treats us as we deserve. Mercy treats us differently than we deserve. However, no one has the right to mercy. Mercy is not in the hands of the one who pleads for it, but rests in the hands of the one to whom the plea is made.

Jesus, who is God in the flesh, illustrates God’s mercy in John 8:2-11 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

You see, in order for you to appeal to God’s mercy you must be aware of your sin. Mercy can only be exercised where there is guilt. This woman knew she was guilty, and the penalty, according to the law of God, was stoning. She was standing before God, the only one without sin, who would have been justified if He condemned her. By His law and decree, death is what she deserved. But Jesus saw she was repentant and He gave her mercy. Jesus showed us that He is a God of mercy to those who repent.

Jesus also told a parable about a prodigal son to illustrate the Father’s mercy. The prodigal son lived sinfully and ended up in a pigsty, feeding pigs. He was so hungry he considered eating the pig’s food. He knew he was guilty of squandering his inheritance and deserved nothing but rejection from his father. Nevertheless, he decided to return to his father, confess his sin, and become his servant, if he will have him.

Luke 15:17-24But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

This is how our Father in Heaven treats every sinner who comes to Him, confessing his sin, and repenting. The father allowed the Prodigal to end up in the pigsty—not because he did not love his son—but because only in the mire of the pigsty would the son learn the truth and be turned to repentance and the love of his father.

Likewise, our Father will allow us to wallow in the mire of our sin so that we will see the Truth and the consequences of our sin, in hope that we will repent and return to Him for mercy.

In order of us to receive God’s mercy, we must come to the realization that we are guilty and that we deserve the punishment prescribed by the Law. So out of His love, God shows us exactly who we are before Him – a sinner; where we are before Him – lost; exactly what we deserve before Him – eternal death, and what we can do before Him – nothing. That is the purpose of the Law. It is only when we are convinced and convicted that our sinful state deserves death, eternal death in Hell, that we are led to cry to God for mercy. Therefore, by His grace, God gives us godly sorrow that we might repent and seek His mercy through faith in Jesus Christ.

However, God cannot set aside justice. Justice must be fulfilled or God would not be just. God’s holiness and His justice demand our eternal damnation. And yet because He is also merciful, He has provided the means for us to escape eternal death and receive eternal life. So God, out of His loving mercy towards us, satisfies His justice and holiness by taking the punishment (death), which our sin deserves, upon Himself. The sacrificial blood of the Son of God, shed on the cross, effects mercy for us.

You see, when we ask for God’s mercy, we are sorrowfully and shamefully confessing the guilt of our sin. We are admitting we have no hope of redemption but His forgiveness. Therefore, we are trusting and believing that He is merciful because He showed His love for us by taking our place on the cross.

Ephesians 2:4-9 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.  

Are you beginning to see how rich God is in mercy and grace?

A woman from the mid-west was invited to go with a group of people to the ocean. She had never seen the ocean before, and when she saw it, she burst into tears. Those around her asked, "Why in the world are you crying?" Pointing to the ocean she answered, "This is the only thing I have ever seen that there was enough of."

The ocean is an illustration of the abundance of God’s love and mercy. He is rich in mercy! He has oceans of mercy for us! And He demonstrates His abundant mercy and grace in many ways: salvation, a new birth of the Holy Spirit, heaven, protection, deliverance, provision, power, and an inheritance.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 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 the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Again, in His mercy, instead of eternal death, God has given us a new birth and eternal life. 1 Peter 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

Have you received that new birth and the inheritance God has provided for you because of His mercy? His mercy is great and His blessings abundantly more than we realize.

Deep in the back woods of Arkansas, a hillbilly’s wife went into labor in the middle of the night, and a mid-wife was called out to assist in the delivery. Since there was no electricity, the mid-wife handed the father-to-be a lantern and said, "Here. You hold this high so I can see what I am doing." Soon, a baby boy was brought into the world.

“Whoa there,” said the mid-wife, "Don’t be in such a rush to put that lantern down. I think there’s another one coming." Sure enough, within minutes she had delivered a baby girl. "Hold that lantern up, don’t set it down, there’s another one!" said the mid-wife.

Within a few minutes she had delivered a third baby. "No, don’t be in a hurry to put down that lantern, it seems there’s yet another one coming!" cried the mid-wife.

The hillbilly scratched his head in bewilderment, and asked the mid-wife, "You reckon it might be the light that’s attractin’ ’em?”

Is the light of God’s mercy attractin’ you to be born again of the Spirit? I’m trying to hold that light of God’s Word high up to you this morning in hope that you can see God’s mercy and be attracted to it! The Law says, “You deserve Hell and damnation.” God’s mercy says, “I took your punishment. Come to Me.”

Psalm 89:14-15 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face. Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.

When God looks at you, His countenance shines with mercy and truth. Are you walking in the light of His mercy and truth? If so, joy will fill your soul!

We often hear people say “God helps those who help themselves.” That is not true. The truth is “God helps those who are unable to help themselves.” That is why God is a God of mercy. He does not treat us as our sin deserves. In His love and mercy for us, He sent Christ to die in our place, to take our punishment, to give us a new life, to fill us with His Spirit, to give us His righteousness, to make us His children, and to make us His ambassadors in this world.

1 Peter 2:10 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.

This may seem unloving to you, but I am motivated by God’s love for you. This morning my prayer for each and every one of you is that God would make you miserable in your sin, so that your eyes might be open to the light of His mercy. While you and I remain unconvinced of our sin and the fact that we are sinners, then sin will damn our souls and corrupt our lives. It is only when God opens our eyes to the convicting light of the Holy Spirit that we can see our guilt, receive God’s mercy, and be on the road to redemption.

Jesus is the road to redemption. We get on that road by trusting in God’s mercy and admitting our guilt. We no longer seek excuses or justifications for our sin. We cry for His mercy and rest in the assurance that because He is merciful, God will forgive our sin on the grounds of the shed blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. And it is that blood which brings justice to God for our sin, and the mercy of God to us.

God’s mercy is available to you right now. “Come to Me,” says Jesus. (Matthew 11:28)

If you have never received God’s mercy, then you are facing a death sentence. It is not just “you die and it is all over”. No, your body will die, but your soul will spend an eternity in Hell where you will beg for death and never die. In Hell, you will be separated from God, His goodness, His love, and everything you love. But today, is the day of salvation—the day you can receive God’s mercy and a new life born of the Holy Spirit.

If you believe Jesus is the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the cross, publicly confess your faith in Him, repent of your sin, and die to yourself in baptism. You have a choice. You can either die to yourself now and receive eternal life in Heaven, or you can die later and receive an eternal death in Hell. Either way, you will die. Therefore, I pray you will choose life by giving your life to Jesus and receive God’s mercy and grace. Your sin will be forgiven and you will be born again of the Holy Spirit.