April 3, 2016Ephesians 2:1 – 13   God’s Mercy


     What is mercy?  Well Webster says mercy is refraining from harming offender’s enemies etc. imprisonment rather than death for capitol crime, a disposition to forgive or be kind, the power to forgive, a lucky thing blessing at the mercy of completely in the power of.  Some of those points certainly sound like God.   God is certainly merciful.  Exodus 33:19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.   Jeremiah 3:12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north: “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever.   Hosea 6:6 for I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. 

      Zondervan Bible Dictionary says that present usage identifies mercy with compassion, in a sense of a willingness to forgive an offender or adversary and more generally simply by a disposition to spare or help another.  This disposition although inwardly felt manifests itself outwardly in some kind of action.  Mercy is more than a feeling it is expressed. Mercy calls for action.   James tells us do not say be warmed and filled and send them on their way without anything.  Zondervan goes on it is evident that mercy combines a strong emotional element usually identified as pity, compassion, or love with some practical response to the condition or needs of the object of mercy. 

   We see mercy is mentioned by several of the Old Testament prophets. They saw God as merciful.  They appealed to God’s mercy.   II Samuel 24:14 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”  That is when David sinned against God by counting the army and God gave him 3 choices and David chose to fall into the hand so f the Lord.    Psalm 25:6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.  In Psalms David and the Psalmist appealed to God on the basis of God’s mercy.   David cried out to God’s mercy when he was running from Saul.   Nehemiah 9:31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.  Isaiah 63:9 remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

    Daniel 9:18 give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name.  We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.   Daniel prayed not on the basis of man’s goodness but God’s mercy.   Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you, to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.    Habakkuk 3:2 Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.  Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.   In your wrath remember mercy is a great prayer.  Luke 6:36 be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.   Jesus told the people to have mercy and to be merciful in the gospels 

   In Matthew 9 2 blind men ask Jesus to have mercy on them and give them their sight and Jesus heals them.  In Matthew 15 a Canaanite woman appeals to Jesus and ask for mercy because her daughter suffered from demon possession.  Jesus granted her request.  A father comes to Jesus in Matthew 17 and asks Jesus to have mercy on his son who was epileptic and Jesus rebukes the demon and heals the boy.   In Matthew 23 Jesus said Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.   Jesus said do not neglect your tithe but practice justice, mercy and being faithful.  There are other examples of Jesus responding to pleas for mercy in the gospels.  We see that people approached God pleading for mercy in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. 

     Mercy has the underlying idea of a bestowal of help by an act of one’s free generosity.   I suppose that is best conveyed by what God has done for us, which is perhaps somewhat illustrated by the following story or concept.   Let’s imagine you have a young son whom you love dearly.    Tragically, one day you discover that your son was horribly murdered.      After a lengthy search the investigators of the crime find the killer.   If you used every means in your power to kill the murderer for his crime, that would be vengeance.     If, however, you’re content to sit back and let the legal authorities take over and execute on him what is a proper fair trial and accept the sentence that the court passes down that is justice.    But if you should plead for the pardon of the murderer, forgive him completely, invite him into your home, and adopt him as your own son, that is grace.

   Because he is rich in mercy God has made us alive in Jesus.  There are very few people who would do that, but that’s what God does every day because God is rich in mercy.   Donald Barnhouse said: Love that goes upward is worship.    Love that goes outward is affection.   Love that stoops is grace z\and mercy.   God’s love stoops to us.   God stoops to minister to us.   God stooped to die on the cross for us.  We cannot comprehend His love for us and we cannot comprehend his mercy that is given to us. 

      In chapter 1 of Ephesians the Holy Spirit tells us of all that we have in Jesus.  In verse 1:3 we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Jesus.   In chapter 2 the HS moves us into the position we have in Jesus.   What is the position we have in Jesus?   Well apart from Jesus the bible tells us that we are dead in trespasses and dead in our sins.   Mankind - humans need mercy because of our condition before a Holy God.   When I share the gospel I often point out that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and that the cost or wages of sin is death and after we die we are judged.   That is what the bible tells us.   It is not a pretty picture.   This passage says we are dead to God without Jesus.    A dead man cannot do anything but in Jesus we are made alive.   In verse 5 we see that we are made alive in Christ Jesus and in verse 6 we were raised with Jesus and made to sit together in heavenly places with Jesus.    We are made alive through Jesus and raised into heavenly places through Jesus and with Jesus and it only happens because God is rich in mercy.   That is exciting.   That is a blessing and the greatest offer ever given to man.

    A person that is spiritually dead cannot please God.     The wages of sin is death and death always meant separation in the bible.      It means separation from God who is life.   The wages of sin is death and those wages will be paid for.    We can accept the death Jesus died and price Jesus paid by receiving Him and trusting Him.   If we do not accept Jesus and his sacrifice then we must pay for our own sins.  God who is holy will judge everyone.   Death is not pretty – you cannot dress it up and make it nice.   Since Adam we have lived in disobedience to God.   Why does a sinner behave like a sinner because he has a sinner’s nature?    Our nature before Jesus is to sin our bent in life apart from God is to sin.   It is to be self-centered and look out for ole number 1.   Works will not save us.   By grace we are saved and not by works.    All our righteousness according to Isaiah is filthy rages.   We have a sin nature and a sin bent that does not please God.   God does not grade as man does.   He is totally just and 1 sin means death and judgment.   God is a just judge.   He is totally righteous.   He is totally pure.   He is Holy, Holy, Holy.

   God who is rich in mercy has made the Christian alive through Jesus sacrifice. God paid the debt we could not pay.   That is amazing.  Clark Tanner writes Christians, we have no right to look down our noses with disdain on unsaved people. We can and should be offended at sin, but not personally offended – offended for God and His holiness. But if we can get it in our heads and in our hearts that when we were dead and He gave us life, when we were unknowing He gave us faith, when we were enemies He came all the way down to us to make peace, then we must realize that in ourselves we are no higher and no better than the vilest of sinners and it is God’s grace and mercy alone that has separated us from the rest. Clark Tanner in Matthew 5 Jesus said blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. 

   Christians often fail in mercy.  We are often criticized for being judgmental. We have failed as a nation in being merciful.  In 1990 CDC Center for Disease Control reports 1,429, 247 aborted babies in America. .  That is 3,915 babies a day in 1990.  There is no mercy in that.  In 2012 there were 699,202 abortions which are more than the whole population of Boston.  That is 1,915 aborted babies a day.  These are just the babies that are reported.  Not all abortions are reported. Because it is wrong it scars the woman.  I have talked with women who have had abortions.  It is argued that a few minutes before birth it is not a human being and then after birth it is a human being.  What kind of logic is that?  These are innocent babies.  It is believed now that at 20 weeks old the child can experience pain so there is a push to sedate the mother if the child is 20 weeks or older who is going in for an abortion.  I do not believe in God’s eyes that a nation that does that is merciful.  Perhaps you disagree. 

    Ben Carson said, “We’ve distorted things to the point where people believe that anyone who opposes mothers killing their babies is waging a war on women.  How can we be so foolish to believe such a thing?   One must be able to recognize the depravity to which we have sunken as a society when valuing a baby’s life is frowned upon.”  Ben Carson.   I suspect that anyone who strongly opposes abortion would have a tough time becoming president in this nation today.  We have failed as a nation to be merciful in many other ways.  We are selfish, and greedy.  We have failed in war.  There is the whole issue of human trafficking for sex and for profit even in New Hampshire.    

    God calls his church his people to intercede.  II Chronicles 7:14    In Numbers 14 now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’   In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”   The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.  God responded top Moses request to forgive.  Moses stood in the gap.   Moses prayed for the people when God wanted to destroy them.  In Ezekiel 22:30 and 31 we read “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.   So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”  God was searching for someone to intercede.  What kind of people needed intercession?  They were wicked.  They were the kind that God was going to judge and God did not want to do it.  He would rather that someone would pray.   

     Are you merciful or critical?   Maybe we should pick someone that we have been critical of and pray for them.  Maybe we should be more loving.  James 2:13 judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Christians should lead the way in love and mercy.  We should set the example.