BibleTools

Topical Studies

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Printer-Friendly          E-mail this page


Bible verses about God's Mercy
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Most people agree that for salvation a Christian needs more than just a theoretical knowledge of God. Over the course of our lives, we increase our knowledge of Him through life's varied experiences. We also come to greater understanding by studying God's Word. In both areas we can be snared by a major problem that traps many religious people in this world: emphasizing one of His attributes at the expense of others.

God is not one dimensional. Though we should study each of His attributes and think on them separately, we should not separate them from the complete personality that God is. Why? It distorts the model we are to imitate and grow into, and it can radically alter our expectations of what He will do. If He does not do what we expect, we are liable to become grieved because God "let us down."

For instance, the Bible emphasizes that God is merciful and full of grace. We should be thankful that He is! But we should not allow that to overshadow the fact that He is also just. If we do, His mercy can become a justification for failure to overcome besetting sins. Neither God's mercy nor justice can be separated from all that He is. Both are harmoniously applied to each situation and person He judges.

The same can be said of His compassion. Some see God as so compassionate that He disregards the causes of horrible problems and circumstances. If God acted in this manner, flaws with painful results would go uncorrected.

Still others construe God's sovereignty so that it greatly diminishes His goodness and portrays Him as rigid and inflexible. This person lives a guilt-ridden, fearful, and discouraged life, thinking that he will never please Him.

Probably the most familiar of God's attributes is found in John's statement in I John 4:8: "God is love." John states a fact, not a definition of God's essential nature. If he had declared that love is what God is, we would be forced to conclude that God is what love is. Literally, if God is love, then literally, love is God, and we are obliged to worship love as the only true God. This would mean God and love are identical. Fortunately, the Bible reveals God is a multidimensional personality. If we eliminate the idea of God's complex personality, denying outright all His attributes save one, the remaining attribute becomes God, a very subtle form of idolatry. This is not the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wholeness of God


 

Exodus 20:6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A well-known use of "mercy" is that God calls the lid of the Ark of the Covenant the "mercy seat." The Israelites transported the ark, a gilt chest containing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, wherever they journeyed. Normally, it remained in the holy of holies, where God symbolically resided, first in the Tabernacle and later in Solomon's Temple.

The mercy seat symbolizes God's throne, where He judges men's conduct, and its name reflects the basic nature of His judgments, which always rest on mercy. This does not mean that God is soft-headed in judgment, carelessly overlooking men's sins. Even so, it is God's nature to be merciful rather than severe, acrimonious, implacable, and vengeful. Unlike men, God finds ways to change men so He can be merciful.

God's judgments always contain a perfect balance of justice and mercy. Though He mercifully forgives a repentant sinner, the sinner does not escape without some measure of painful judgment. In any given circumstance requiring a judgment between justice and mercy, men's judgment may be "all over the map," but God's judgment, tending toward mercy, will be perfect.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 5: Blessed Are the Merciful


 

Exodus 34:5   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God was preaching him a sermon on what He is. The names of God describe Him. They tell us what God is, what He does, and what He will do for us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

2 Samuel 12:15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This is the story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah the Hittite. Should God have struck David down as soon as he committed adultery? It could have started even earlier, when David looked at her while she was naked in the rooftop bathtub. Or was it after he planned with Joab to kill Uriah on the frontline? Or was it after the dirty deed was done, when Uriah was actually dead? God did not step in at any of those times. Do we realize how long He waited?

II Samuel 12:15 says that Nathan departed to his house, and the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bore. The whole period of gestation went by before Nathan came and said to David, "You've sinned." How far had David fallen from grace during this nine-month period since he had committed adultery? He had conspired to kill. He had actually not done the dirty deed himself, but it was attributed to him. Then he had taken Bathsheba as his wife.

Notice in II Samuel 11:27 that God had already imputed the evil to him; He had judged the matter. "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." This is a terrible translation. The margin has it more correctly: "But the thing that David had done was evil in the eyes of the Lord." God calls a spade a spade, but He forbore to inflict the penalty for an important reason, which is found in Psalm 51. What did God's forebearance produce in David?

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. (Psalm 51:1-4)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. (Psalm 51:10-13)

What did this episode produce in David? Repentance for sure, and tremendous growth in character. It produced Psalm 51 itself, which is a major piece of writing in all the history of the world. How many countless people has it taught repentance and the building of character? God had greater purposes here than merely punishing transgression. Remember, David did not get away with this, because when Nathan came to him, he said, "From this time on your house is going to have problems, buddy. You're not getting away with this sin. It's going to follow you for the rest of your days, and your childrens' and your grandchildrens'." If the throne of England is any witness to this, the punishment is still falling on David's house. There are problems in the family of David that frequently show up in sexual problems and war. They have terrible dynastic squabbles.

If God blasted everyone at the first sign of sin, we would never have the chance to build character. No one would ever make it into God's Kingdom. We would all be just oil spots on the road. We would never have the chance to repent and say, "God, I was wrong. Lead me in the right way. Please don't take your Holy Spirit from me. If you allow me to live, I'll teach sinners not to do as I have done."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

2 Kings 22:16-17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

At this point, six years into Josiah's reformation, God informs the young king that the people were only giving lip-service to his efforts. Their hearts had not changed; they had not truly repented and turned to God. He is, however, a merciful God, slow to anger, quick to forgive; the terrible price will not be paid just yet.

Mike Ford
Josiah


 

Nehemiah 9:30-31   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Israel had a yo-yo like obedience to God. Sometimes they were up, sometimes they were down. How long did God forbear with them? If we consider that the Exodus happened in about 1440 BC, and the Israelites were taken out of the land in 720 BC, He forbore with seven hundred and twenty years of their constant breaking of the covenant. Does that not say something about the patience of God—His forbearance—even with Israel's terrible sins—apostasy, spiritual adultery?

He certainly punished them and gave them many chances to repent. They would be obedient for a while, then they would fall again. He would forbear with them and give them a chance to repent, but they would not. So He punished them again to leave us an example of how God will deal—does deal—with us.

How often did God not give Israel what she deserved? Countless times! In His mercy and patience, He gave the Israelites time and space to repent. So in the end, as it says here, He had to lower the boom. They received what they deserved. He just delayed the punishment until it could no longer be delayed anymore, because He wanted them to repent.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Isaiah 27:12-13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

There is no doubt about the context in which this appears. A great trumpet is going to be blown, undoubtedly the seventh trumpet. What will happen at the seventh trumpet? The context says that God is going to bring the children of Israel back into their land, showing God making a judgment that involves, not only the people of Israel, but also the land of Israel.

The word that is translated "thresh" is not the ordinary word for that activity. Ordinarily whenever threshing is done, the Bible shows the grain either laid on a firm surface and then beaten with a stick, or taken in hand and beaten against something solid, like a wall. The purpose for this is to break the wheat berries from the stock, and it generally takes a fair amount of force to do this.

The word "thresh" here does not indicate that kind of threshing but a method that is more careful and gentle. This word is applied when a person gently strikes an individual piece of fruit—like an apple, peach, or pear—from the branch, or when the tree is gently shaken so that the fruit falls out.

Here is God's judgment. At that time, the children of Israel will not be in a condition in which they will need to be beaten. Taking all of the scriptures on this together, we find that they will be returning to their land weeping, their wild spirit broken. It has been broken, of course, through the tribulation and the Day of the Lord. So as He is gathering, He is doing it one by one, leading them, as it were, by the hand.

At that time it is God's judgment that the children of Israel will need more than the usual amount of concern. He is indicating not just a separation from the nations, but that an act of purification is also taking place.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fall Feast Lessons


 

Isaiah 40:28   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Though God's normal activity involves far more mercy than justice, we have to operate with the understanding, the conviction, that God owes us nothing. He knows exactly what is happening. If He allows a tower to fall on our heads this afternoon, we cannot claim any injustice on God's part. He has already given us so much mercy that it is beyond our understanding.

All of us receive injustices from the hand of men, and we do not deal anywhere near as fairly with each other as we should. We want everything in our dealings with others to go favorably for us, for that is what we feel is fair. Israel is saying a similar thing here.

One thing is certain, however: None of us has ever received the slightest injustice from the hand of God. As we grow in understanding and humility, we begin to see that we have received an overwhelming abundance of grace.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Justice and Grace


 

Lamentations 3:31-33   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

These verses assure us there is loving purpose and compassionate consideration involved in God's affliction. This statement almost sounds like "this is going to hurt Me more than it does you." His discipline is always tempered by mercy. If He applied strict justice, He could lawfully kill us all off because that is what we deserve.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Daniel 9:9   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Daniel begins to lay the groundwork of an appeal to God. "God, you are merciful." God desires to forgive. Even though we have rebelled, God's ear is still open to our cry of repentance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Avoiding Superficiality


 

Jonah 4:2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God's patience delays His wrath, allowing time for good to occur. We should also note the other qualities patience is combined with here and in Exodus 34:6. In combination with patience, the qualities of grace, mercy, lovingkindness, goodness, and truth allow God to work with people so they can remain alive and eventually transform into His image. If God struck out at people just as short-fused humans frequently do, no one would be alive today. Jonah, in a typically human reaction, wanted God to wipe the sinners of Nineveh, Israel's enemy, off the face of the earth!

Nineveh was undoubtedly just as full of sinners as Israel. But God, bearing patiently with them in their ignorance, sent Jonah to proclaim His warning message to them: Destruction would fall on them in forty days. They, however, believed the message, proclaimed a fast, prayed mightily to God, repented, and turned from their evil ways. Their repentance may not have been Davidic, but under the circumstances God was pleased.

II Peter 3:9 affirms that God still operates in the same manner:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Romans 2:3-6 discusses the same theme on a more personal basis, warning us that we should not abuse God's patience by viewing it as inattention, indulgence or mere tolerance. Solomon warns of the same perversity of nature that reveals itself in those lacking faith (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13). Clearly, God's patience is exercised so He can work on the situation and produce repentance. All too frequently, though, His goodness and patience are abused through stubbornness or neglect. Be assured, God is aware, and there comes a time when His patience is exhausted and His judgment falls if the change God expected does not occur.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience


 

Matthew 5:38-40   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What kind of justice does God dispense? Is it based on a so-called cruel Old Testament law? The "Christian" churches of this world say that Jesus came to do away with that law. Preposterous! Without law as a foundation, there can be no justice. Jesus explicitly says, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17).

Some think that Jesus condemns the Old Testament system of justice in Matthew 5:38-40. However, He is correcting, not nullifying, an abuse of the eye-for-an-eye principle, which the Romans called Lex Talionis. The Jews of His day were advocating it for settling personal disputes. In effect, each person was taking justice into his own hands, and Jesus says that was not His intent when He gave it to their forefathers.

Considered by many to be barbaric and primitive, the eye-for-an-eye principle is, on the contrary, the basis for God's system of judgment, of civil law, for ruling a nation (Exodus 21:22-25; Leviticus 24:19-20). It has its foundation in equal justice as provided by equal payment for damage done. God established this principle so that a judge could be merciful in evaluating the circumstances of the crime and render a fair and just decision in cases of sin against other men.

This does not mean that if A bloodies B's nose, then B has to punch A in the nose in return. Lex Talionis requires commensurate payment for damage done, punishment fitting the crime. It is the basis for evenhanded justice, demanding fair compensation for damages. As implemented in God's law, Lex Talionis was enforced with a system of fines—with the money paid to the injured party, not to the state (e.g. Exodus 21:22, 28-32).

Though it was to be the basic law, a judge had the power to give mercy. For instance, if he determined that B really goaded A into punching his nose, he was free to show mercy along with the payment required. In His judgment of us, God does the same. When we deserve death because of sin, God shows us mercy by allowing Christ's blood to cover our transgressions. He has decided to forgo the strict application of the eye-for-an-eye principle and extend mercy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Matthew 9:10-13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In saying that He desires mercy and not sacrifice, Jesus is teaching that He prefers it when people practice mercy and not blindly follow ritual. He is not condemning the laws of sacrifice that He set up for Israel to practice until He fulfilled them, but explaining that He is more pleased with acts of forgiveness and kindness than strict external compliance to the law.

He is telling the Pharisees that, though they were exacting in keeping the letter of the law, they had completely missed its intent. In Matthew 23:23, He reminds them of this very point: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone."

It is good and right to tithe to God, even to be exacting in our accounting, but not at the expense of the far more important matters of justice, mercy, and faith! These weightier matters are a Christian's priorities, so if a question of "What do I do?" ever comes up between practicing them and keeping the strict letter of the law, our judgment should lean toward these Christian virtues. If we can do both, all the better!

Jesus Christ is the personification of mercy. Exodus 25:17-22 describes the Mercy Seat constructed in the wilderness. Essentially, it was the golden lid of the Ark of the Covenant, on which were figures of two cherubim facing each other with their wings stretched out, covering the Mercy Seat. God, the pre-incarnate Christ, says in verse 22, "And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony." The Mercy Seat represented God in His dealings with sinful humanity, and the chief element He employs is mercy.

Now notice Romans 3:23-25:

. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed. . . .

This passage tells us that Jesus Christ is our Mercy Seat, but the translators have hidden it. "Propitiation" (Greek hilasterios) in verse 25 is literally "place of conciliation or expiation" or "Mercy Seat." The Septuagint used hilasterios to translate the Hebrew noun kapporeth ("Mercy Seat"). This Hebrew word's root is kapar meaning "to cover" or "to conceal." This illustrates that the nature of God is to be merciful.

The apostle Peter writes in I Peter 2:21 that we are to follow in Christ's steps, thus as Jesus Christ is merciful, we also are to show mercy in our judgments.

John O. Reid
Mercy: The Better Option


 

Matthew 12:9-14   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Matthew 12:9-14 is in many respects very similar to John 9. Jesus healed a man with a chronic problem. It was not an emergency situation. He could have allowed the person to go on and heal him after the Sabbath was over, but He deliberately chose to heal him on the Sabbath day. Why?

The answer is to show us that God's mind, His nature, His law, is always to be merciful under every circumstance. In following His example, we have to make sure that what we are doing, our intent, really is showing mercy to the person. Necessity in this case did not demand that He heal the man on the Sabbath, but it provided an excellent example that mercy is always right when the opportunity presents itself.

Even though Jesus had the power from God to do this, He did not frequently go out of His way to heal people on the Sabbath. On the other hand, if people came to Him on the Sabbath, He healed them.

The Pharisees were so far from God that they were blinded to the wickedness of their plans. They were looking for an opportunity to get evidence against Jesus to kill Him. Their wicked motivation for their actions is probably the most gross Sabbath violation in all the Bible: They used the Sabbath to plot the murder of an innocent Man.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 4)


 

Matthew 23:23   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Each of the Ten Commandments can be considered a "weighty" part of the law. The statutes, precepts, and judgments, rendered by God and Moses and added to the scriptural record, are not as weighty as the law itself, but are still important, since they show how we should interpret and apply the law.

Christ singled out judgment, mercy, and faith as the weightier matters of the law. Why? Since we are discussing judgment here, why is it so weighty? Though the law itself is very important, we can perhaps consider judgment or justice to be even weightier, for it is the aim and purpose of the law. The law's very purpose is to make sure justice is done!

Since God is the very embodiment of love and justice to all without partiality, He did not need the law codified for Himself. We need it, along with all the precepts, statutes, and judgments based on it because we do not yet have His mind. So He gave us the Bible, which contains enough of God's mind for us to strive toward perfection with it as our daily guide, helping us learn to judge righteous judgment. Within its pages God has written enough laws, principles, and circumstances for us to determine the proper course of action in any situation: Which Scripture applies here and now? Do we answer this fool according to his folly or not (Proverbs 26:4-5)? Can we judge him a fool at all (Matthew 5:22)?

The problem is that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Hold any of our lives up before the pages of the Bible, and we fall far short. If justice were truly done, we would all die eternally, for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). That is harsh reality. But God is merciful and gives us time and help to correct our course.

The Pharisees tried to live perfectly sinless lives and came to judge anyone falling short of their expectations as far beneath them. Not only had they perverted justice through hypocrisy and partiality, but they had also completely lost the next weighty matter Christ urged them to consider: mercy.

Staff
The Weightier Matters (Part 2): Judgment


 

Mark 1:41   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Christ moved with compassion on behalf of a person who, from the world's viewpoint, was repulsive and undesirable, totally unappealing in any situation. Jesus did not cleanse him because he was nice-looking or wealthy. Similarly, God does not choose to call us into His church due to our good works, beauty, or money; in us is nothing spiritually appealing. Spiritually, we are like the leper was physically—repulsive and undesirable in terms of holiness. We can thank God that His grace "brings salvation" (Titus 2:11) and "by grace we are saved" (Ephesians 2:8). God does not call us to salvation because of what we are but because of what He is. According to His mercy, God decides on whom to have compassion (Psalm 86:15; Romans 9:15-16).

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Leper (Part Three)


 

Luke 1:77-79   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

No salvation is possible without forgiveness. Our Father cannot forgive our sins on the grounds of justice, and therefore He does so through His tender mercy. He has made Himself our God by giving us grace—undeserved favor. He passes by the transgressions of His people because He delights in mercy. He is so full of pity that He delays to condemn us in our guilt, but looks with loving concern upon us to see how He can turn away His wrath and restore us to favor.

Micah 7:18 adds, "Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy." God is love, and love is kind, but perhaps our approach to His forgiveness has been prosaically legal. The Scriptures reveal that God does kindness with intensity of will and readiness of mind. He forgives with all His heart because He delights in mercy! He says, "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies." God's nature works to give mercy, not punish; to create beauty, not destroy; to save, not lose.

Can we not see a lesson in this? Are we anywhere near God's image in this? How many of us, fellowshipping among God's people, are hiding resentment and bearing the seeds of bitterness against a brother because of some offense—or carrying a grudge, or filled with envy, or communicating gossip? Are these things acts of kindness? Does a forgiving spirit that delights in mercy enter into acts that destroy a brother's reputation and widen existing divisions?

One other phrase in Luke 1:78 shows the kind and tender nature of our God: "He visited us." God did not merely pity us from a distance, nor did He allow His compassion for us to remain as an unresolved, inactive feeling. David writes in Psalm 8:4, "What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?" But God did just that!

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed he does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like his brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-18)

God has not merely pitied us from a distance, but He has entered into life, our life, on our level. The Creator stooped from His high and pure abode as glorious God, and veiled His divinity for an abode of animated clay. He assumed our nature, was tempted in all things like us, took our sicknesses, and bore our infirmities for the express purpose of being a merciful and faithful High Priest. He did not enter into our world and yet maintain a status superior to us. He truly walked in our shoes and still went about doing good.

Christ, Paul adds in Galatians 1:4, "gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father." Who knows how many individual acts of kindness—from the conception of the plan to its fulfillment—are contained within this simple statement?

This is the heart of God's nature. He generously and mercifully gives that others might benefit. Now, because of what He did, this nature is growing in us. By His Spirit He has taken His abode in us to enable us to work out our salvation, and as we yield, our lives are changing, gradually conforming to His image. He dwells in us despite all our provocations, stubbornness, neglect, and rebellions. How often we must disappoint Him, and yet as our High Priest and Intercessor, He stands ever ready to serve us with yet more kindness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness


 

Romans 3:21-26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God can forbear with us because Jesus Christ came to this earth and died for all of us. If we repent and ask God forgiveness, then Christ's blood covers all of our sins. Justice has been done. The sin has been paid for by the blood of Christ. God can thus forbear with us and allow us to "get away" with our sins for a while, because if we repent, then Jesus Christ's blood covers our sins, and justice is done. A person died for those sins—our Creator, Jesus Christ.

But if we do not repent, what happens? We die, and the penalty is paid. So this is a kind of legal maneuver by God. His forbearance is allowed under His legal system because Jesus Christ's blood pays the penalty for our sins. He can be merciful and lenient for a while, and whether we repent, or whether we do not repent, justice is ultimately served because a death occurs—either Jesus' or ours. This is the legal basis for why He can be forbearing. He has already taken care of it, one way or the other.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Romans 3:25   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

One translation of this verse renders the last phrase, "sins that are past, through the forbearance of God," as "for the remission of sins during the time that He withheld His hand." Picture a father whose children are misbehaving, and he pulls back his hand to cuff them, yet he withholds it. This is what God means. He was ready to strike out at us because of our sins, but He withheld His hand during that time. It is as if He stopped Himself. He had every reason to strike out, but He did not, mercifully. It is a vivid picture. Any parent can relate to it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 8): Ephesians 4 (E)


 

Romans 5:20-21   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Grace reigns supreme over law, sin, and death. Because God is gracious and the supreme sovereign over His creation, and because He is supreme over law as its Giver and can resurrect whom He chooses, grace is His to give freely as He pleases. Grace is supreme over the others because God has willed it so and gives it to whomsoever He chooses.

Because grace is a gift, it can neither be demanded nor earned (it can, however, be requested). Therefore salvation must be by grace. Because of this, even the greatest sinner is not beyond the reach of His mercy. Conversely, because salvation is by grace, all boasting is likewise excluded.

For example, Isaac receives grace, but Ishmael is cast out with his mother. Jacob receives the inheritance and blessing, but Esau is in reality cursed. God chooses to have Christ born in the tiny town of Bethlehem, not at the Temple or even in the capital city, Jerusalem. He could have sent angels to announce His Son's birth in every capital of every nation on earth, or at least to announce it to the religious leaders among the Jews. Instead, He chooses to invite common shepherds and foreign magi for that peculiar honor.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Three


 

1 Corinthians 6:1-3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In a broad sense, Paul is teaching that we are to learn to deal with situations as God would, and our training ground is here in this life and in the church. We are undergoing extensive hands-on training for the profession of judge, which, as Paul implies, will be among our duties as children of God in His Kingdom. This is no minor matter!

Earlier in my conversion, I clearly left out one of the most important elements needed for making right judgments. Jesus points out which one in His Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7). Had I shown more mercy in those situations, their outcomes would have been far different—and definitely better.

Generally, the merciful are those people who are affected by the suffering of others. They are affected in a manner that causes them, not only to offer encouragement to one who is experiencing a rough spot in his life, but also to work to lessen his suffering.

The New Unger's Bible Dictionary defines mercy as "a form of love determined by the state or condition of its objects. Their state is one of suffering and need, while they may be unworthy or ill-deserving. Mercy is at once the disposition of love respecting such, and the kindly ministry of love for their relief."

A secular dictionary, The Reader's Digest Encyclopedic Dictionary, concurs: Mercy is the "kind, compassionate treatment of an offender, adversary, prisoner in one's power; compassion where severity is expected, or deserved." Among its synonyms are "leniency," "compassion," "forgiveness," "pity," "kindness," "tolerance," "charity," "benevolence," "clemency," and "forbearance."

The primary idea behind mercy is rendering a kindness when harshness or condemnation is expected or even deserved. A merciful person looks beyond the present state of affairs to the potential good that may result from his compassionate handling of the matter. He is willing to forgo the other's punishment, his "just deserts," or his own desire for revenge in an attempt to produce good fruit from a bad situation.

The nature of God is to be merciful to those He calls. We know that He calls the weak, foolish, and base (I Corinthians 1:26-28), those who are undesirable in society's eyes and guilty of sin in His eyes. He extends great mercy to them, redeeming them from the death penalty and setting them on the path toward eternal life in the Kingdom of God. In doing so, He sets us an example to follow!

John O. Reid
Mercy: The Better Option


 

Galatians 2:18   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

To paraphrase, Paul says, "If I repent and am mercifully forgiven by God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, thus killing or destroying the old man who did all of those sins, and then I go back to that way of life again, I am the one that is at fault—not Christ. I make myself a transgressor. It is not Christ or His way of life that makes me this way or promotes sin in me. Not at all!"

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 26)


 

Hebrews 2:16-18   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Barclay comments: "He came as a man; he came seeing things with men's eyes, feeling things with men's feelings, thinking things with men's minds. God knows what life is like, because God came right inside life" (p. 104). Jesus Christ is not remote, detached, and disinterested, nor insulated and isolated from our lives. He knows our frame; He knows that we are but dust. He can see in us a reflection of what He experienced as a man. He can thus extend mercy to us, completely understanding what we are going through.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 5: Blessed Are the Merciful


 

James 2:12-13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A divine judgment is coming, and it will be done fairly. However, God will be disinclined to show any mercy to those who have not exhibited mercy and kindness to others. This is the law of reciprocity: God will judge us according to how we have judged others (see Matthew 7:2; Luke 6:37-38).

James also says that "mercy triumphs over judgment." Indeed, the laws we have broken demand our death, but the mercy of God through the sacrificial death of His Son has made a way for us to be accepted. In the end, it will be clear that God's mercy prevails.

John O. Reid
Mercy: The Better Option


 

1 Peter 1:13-16   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The apostle Peter provides the practical implications of this wonderful hope. Hope can go to work for us and do wonders. God's calling and purpose are certainly wonderful, but He does not intend that they set us off on a daydream. Peter is declaring a call to arms: "Pull yourself together!" "Roll up your sleeves!" "Give hard thought and wrestle with the practical implications of salvation."

Remember that the church is the community where God's truth is taken seriously, and His mind is being formed in its members. To paraphrase and expand, Peter is saying, "Look, brothers, we should not be superficial about this. Keep cool. Do not be impetuous. Avoid excesses. Live a plain life. Work hard, but set your hope in God's grace, not in your own willpower.

"Remember always that your obedience is to a gracious Person, not to a coldly calculating judge or to society. Holiness is not sanctimoniousness. It is being separated for a special purpose by special instructions and discipline. We have been called to perform a unique purpose. We have been called to glorify God by our lives as a witness to all who observe, and at the same time being prepared for His Kingdom. God wants us to have a passionate love for goodness, so in your mind give Him a unique place.

"Do not fear the enemy, as we would Christ. Use your hope to think about Him, His power, justice, wisdom, goodness, truth, omnipotence, and omniscience. Remember always that He has wisdom without error, power without limit, love without hatred. Our hope is in One who is great in every respect. Quit thinking of God in fleshly terms. He is not a limited man nor even a superman. He is GOD! He is with us, and so who can permanently harm us? Concentrate on being completely devoted to Him, and if we do this, we have every reason to hope. God is not a man that He should lie. His promises are sure."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Trumpets Is a Day of Hope


 

2 Peter 3:9   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God does not want anyone to perish but desires all to come to repentance. However, to those who refuse His mercy and trample the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ as if it were vile (Hebrews 10:26-31), He is a God of justice and righteous judgment. These, who leave Him with no alternative but to put them to death for eternity, will know what He earnestly desired them to achieve.

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: The Third Resurrection


 

2 Peter 3:15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

That God is longsuffering or forbearing with us means that we are able to have salvation. It will not happen any other way. If He were not longsuffering with us, there would be no salvation. We could never please Him with our miserable works, and our sins would qualify us only to be grease spots on the road. "The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation." We had better be glad that God is patient, that He will take the time to work with us, however long it may take, so that we can be in His Kingdom and grow in His character.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Revelation 16:5-7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

There is no injustice with God. His justice is never divorced from His righteousness. He never condemns the innocent; He never clears the guilty without repentance; He never punishes with undue severity; He always rewards righteousness. His justice is perfect justice.

He does not require absolutely perfect obedience, or nobody would make it. The blood of Jesus Christ is available to cover us (Revelation 1:5). However, He does not always act with justice because He sometimes acts with mercy. Mercy is not justice, but neither is it injustice, as injustice violates righteousness. Mercy manifests kindness and grace; it does no violence to righteousness.

Those who live by faith must seriously consider God's justice. It constantly reminds us that the wages of sin is death, that sin is disloyalty to God, and that God means what He says. It reminds us of the tremendously precious value of Christ's sacrifice. When we enter into the covenant with God, we are pledging our lives to serve Him in gladness and faithfulness so that He might create us in His image.

God's grace helps to prod us to live continuously by faith. We must know and appreciate His grace without abusing it. His justice is a reality, and so is sin's penalty, but His mercifully given grace overrides both.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and God's Justice


 

 




The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 115,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.

Email Address:

   

We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.
Printer-Friendly          E-mail this page
 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
©Copyright 1992-2014 Church of the Great God.   Contact C.G.G. if you have questions or comments.