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Doctrine of God - Love, Mercy and Grace Print E-mail
The Doctrine of God
Sunday, 06 April 2008

I.  Introduction:

 It has been a couple of weeks since we have discussed the Doctrine of God series, so let me begin tonight by reminding us where we are.  We began by looking at Godís person (one God, spiritual and personal, and the Trinity).  Then we shifted our attention to specific attributes.  Up to this point, we have considered Godís immutability and eternity, His omnipresence, His sovereignty and omnipotence, as well as His omniscience and wisdom.  Two weeks ago we looked at Godís goodness and faithfulness.  Tonight, I want to look at Godís love, mercy, and grace.  Since these attributes are similar, we will consider them together tonight.

II.  Baptist Faith and Message:

 The ideas of Godís love, mercy, and grace are prevalent in the B, F, and M.  In the statement regarding God the Father, we read that He Ďreigns with providential careí and that He is Ďall loving.í  This section also mentions that the title ĎGod the Fatherí demonstrates His love for all men when it states: ĎHe is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.í  In the section on God the Son, the love of Christ by the statement: Ďin His (Christís) substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin.í  We will speak more of this at the end tonight.  Finally, in the section on the Holy Spirit, we see the love, mercy, and grace of God in the Spiritís actions toward the believer, which include: inspiration and illumination, conviction, calling and regeneration, cultivation of Christian character, sealing and guaranteeing as well as empowering.  All of these are actions of love, mercy, and grace.

III.  Passages (I do not have time to mention them all, but rather just a sampling):

 A.  Love
  1.  Psalm 136 The Old Testament writers often use the word Ďhesedí to describe the love of God.  It is this word that the ESV translates steadfast love.  It refers to Godís faithfulness, particularly in relation to Him keeping His covenant with Israel.  Thus, He keeps His commitment to His people with steadfast love, or Ďhesed.í
  2.  Zephaniah 3:17 This is one of my favorite descriptions of Godís love and delight in His people.  The prophet tells us that the Lord exults over you with loud singing.  Not just singing, but loud singing.  The Lord loves His people and takes great delight in them. 
  3.  John 3:16 The most famous verse in the Bible speaks of the clearest demonstration of Godís love, namely the giving of His Son.  We will look at some other passages in a moment that speak of this demonstration.
  4.  John 14:31, 17:24 The Son obeyed the Father so that the world may know that I love the Father.  Also, in John 17, we read that the Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world.  The love between the Trinity has existed forever and will exist forever.  It is that forever, steadfast love that Jesus prays will be in us (see 17:26). 
  5.  1 John 4:7-8 This passage has erroneously been taken as the definitive statement about the character of God.  Yet, it was not meant to deny other true statements about Godís character in the Bible.  Yes, He is love, but that does not mean that He is not holy or just.  Again, the challenge is to hold all of the teaching of the Bible about God together.  We never want to make the mistake of trying to pit His attributes against one another.  We can say from this passage (and many others) that our God is a God of love.

 B.  Mercy
  1.  Exodus 25:17 In the instructions for making the Ark of the Covenant, Moses was told to construct a mercy seat, which would be the cover for the Ark.  This symbolized Godís meeting place with His people and highlighted His mercy towards Israel.
  2.  Exodus 33:19, 34:6-7 When the Lord causes His goodness to pass before Moses, He declares to him: And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.  It is this statement of Godís sovereignty over His mercy and grace that Paul comments on in Romans 9.  After this, in chapter 34, we have this great statement of Godís name as The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulnessÖ  Again we see that God is a God of love, grace, and mercy.
  3.  Psalm 55:1ff This is David crying out to the Lord for mercy after his sin with Bathsheba.  David believed that the Lord was a God of abundant mercy     (see also 2 Samuel 24:14).
  4.  Luke 1:68-79 Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, gives this prophecy and speaks of the Lord showing mercy to them by keeping His promises to Abraham in sending them a Savior, namely Jesus Christ, to whom John will go before, preparing the way.

 C.  Grace
  1.  Genesis 3:21 I read this verse here to point out that even from the beginning God was showing humanity love, mercy, and grace.
  2.  John 1:16-17 As we noted during our Christmas sermon last year, God was gracious in giving the Law through Moses and He poured grace upon grace in sending Christ as the fulfillment of that Law.  Thus, the old dichotomy of God being a God of law in the Old Testament and a God of grace in the New does not really hold.
  3.  Ephesians 2:1-10 This passage highlights the mercy (v. 4), love (v. 4), and grace (v. 5, 7, and 8) of God toward us in Christ.  Our salvation is all of grace.
  4.  1 Peter 5:10 Finally, Peter describes the Lord as the God of all grace, emphasizing that even though we might suffer for a while on this earth, He will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us on the final Day.

IV.  Implications:

 A.  The love of our God is steadfast and faithful.  We can trust and know that He will not grow tired of loving us.  He will not grow lax in His love for us because He delights in singing over us.  If you are a parent, then you can understand the unconditional love that you have for your child.  Jesus says, If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him (Matthew 7:11).  The great love that we have for our children is nothing in comparison to the great love that God has for us.  As we said above, we must be careful that we do not elevate the attribute of Godís love over the other attributes.  Rather, we must understand the other attributes if we are going to faithfully (biblically) understand Godís love.

 B.  Godís mercy and grace toward us are immeasurable.  Should a distinction be made between these two attributes?  Yes and no.  In one sense, they are distinguishable terms in the Scriptures.  Yet, the idea that is behind them both makes them very similar.  They both refer to God pardoning us for our sin and giving us what we do not deserve in Christ.  How do we measure the greatness of mercy and grace?  Let me use an illustration to try and answer this.  Since it is Spring, maybe you are thinking about hiring someone to take care of your lawn this summer.  Letís say that you decide on a person, meet with them, agree to pay them $10/hour, and sign a contract that lays out the details.  Now, letís say that they come and do an excellent job for you all summer and you decide to increase their pay to $20/hour for the last month.  In one sense this is mercy and grace on your part.  You are going beyond what the original contract stated.  Yet, letís change the scenario.  Letís say that after you sign the contract with them, they never show up.  You call them and tell them to come and mow your yard.  So, the next day they show up and set your house on fire.  Now, they deserve to be punished as criminals.  You should receive full payment for what they destroyed.  Instead, you decide to forgive them for what they did, pay for the repairs yourself, and increase their pay to $20/hour. 

Although the first scenario may have represented a little mercy and grace, it is the second that amazes us.  Why?  Because the recipient was so undeserving the gift became that much greater.  When you think about just how undeserving we are as sinners and rebels, then you begin to catch a glimpse of the great mercy and grace that we have received at Calvary.  Instead of being justly thrown in Hell forever, the Father sent Christ to pay for our sins and has promised to freely give us all things in Him (see Romans 8:32).  It is this thought that leads us to how we see Godís love, mercy, and grace at the cross.

V.  Christ and the cross:

 I do not have the words to adequately describe Godís display of love, mercy, and grace at the cross.  In fact, I do not think I can improve on Scripture.  So let me just close tonight by reading some passages that highlight these attributes of God demonstrated at Calvary:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth (Ephesians 1:3-10).

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).

O Lord we thank you for the love, grace, and mercy that you showed us at the cross.  We pray with Paul that you would give us the strength to know that which surpasses knowledge, namely your love for your people.  Amen.

~ william Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 April 2008 )

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