THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 11-6-11
LESSON TITLE: “WHAT GOD HAS JOINED TOGETHER: GRACE AND MERCY”
In John 15:14 we read the words of Jesus as He said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” Are you known by God as a friend of Jesus because you have obeyed His commandments?
Today we assemble before this friend, that we might worship and praise God through His precious name. And how blessed we are to gather together to give this time of worship to our God! We thank you for joining us today as we commit this time to the things of God, as together we will have the privilege to study from God’s Holy Word and to sing praises to His wonderful name. Let’s each do our part this morning in making this time of offering acceptable in His sight. Will you go to God in prayer with me at this time?
Isn’t it wonderful to think of the glory, majesty and awe of Heaven? This is where we will begin today in our songs of praise, as we join together in our first hymn of the morning, it’s title, “Just Over In The Glory Land.”
(SONG # 1)
If I were to ask you what does it take to be a true friend, there are many things that might come to mind. You might think of respect, honor, dependability, or even trustworthiness. However, most would not probably say what we mentioned earlier from the gospel of John. Jesus said that His true friends were obedient. He also clarifies what we must be obedient to, He said, “His commandments.” Now these ideas show us two things.
First they remind us of just how important it is to be obedient to God and that if we are obedient then Christ knows we love Him! How wonderful it is to know that God has asked us to do certain things and that when we do them, He sees this as a confirmation of friendship and dependability.
However, secondly we learn about the need to obey commands. This tells us first of all that God had to have given us commands to follow. And that if He did then we are required to know them and to obey. So where do we find the commands of God? The obvious answer is in His Word – the Bible! This means we are required to study God’s Word, to understand His commands and then to obey them as faithful Children in His fold!
So what about you, have you shown yourself a friend of God through obedience to His commands. Can Jesus Truly say that you love Him because you “keep His Commandments?” If you are of God and are one of His children obedience is not an option. Remember the beautiful old song which we sometimes sing, “I’ll Be A Friend to Jesus?” The question is will we really be one according to His definition?
In just a few minutes it will be time to consider our main topic of the morning. Today we will be continuing our discussion on, “What God Has Joined Together!” Our specific lesson of the day is entitled, “Grace and Mercy!” So please stay with us and after our next song we will be lead in this important topic.
As far as our speaker of the day, we would like to once again welcome brother Kevin Patterson to our program. Brother Kevin is the minister for the HWY 13 Church of Christ in Bolivar Missouri. Brother Kevin also helps as an instructor at the Bible Institute of Missouri. We thank this good brother for joining us today and we look forward to him leading our thoughts from God’s Word after our next song.
Now, won’t you join in with the congregation, as we sing our second song of the morning - the name of this song is, “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms.”
(SONG # 2)
By Kevin Patterson
Thank you for staying with us this morning and we appreciate you always joining us for this time of worship and praise to God.
Over the last several weeks we have been studying a theme entitled “What God Has Joined Together.” This is a passage of scripture that we are using to actually talk about some of the things in the Bible that are near to one another, related to one another, even joined to one another and there are concepts that are very beneficial for us to study and to study in proper context.
This morning we are going to take a look at two words that are often used and sometimes misused in our teaching and in our understanding of what the scripture has to say concerning them. We’re going to talk about grace and mercy. Some words have similar meanings and are often used interchangeably. Take for instance the words “big”
or “huge,” “giant,” “tall,” “large,” “humongous.” Words like this often have a general meaning that we would understand to be big. But if I were to ask you to join me at the local “Big & Tall” store, what type of clothing would we find there? Well certainly we would find clothing for the tall person, but does the word “big” mean “tall” in that context? I think we would understand that sometimes the word “big” might mean large or “wide,” and so when we go to that store we would find clothing for yes, the tall person and even the big boned. Well, the Bible uses terminology that is similar to this example. They use the same types of words but they have different types of meanings so this morning I want you to consider just a few of these examples.
In Acts chapter 2 and verse 22 we read about miracles, wonders and signs. Now some people might think, “Well, doesn’t that all just refer to miracles?” Well if it did the word “miracle” would be used and that would be the end of it. But these are three terms that mean, even though they are subtle, different things. That’s why the scripture uses three different words to describe them.
We see in Galatians chapter 5 verses 20 and 21 when Paul was addressing to the churches of Galatia, the works of the flesh, he mentions two of these works being jealousy and envy. And although in our culture and in our society we often use the word “jealousy” to mean both, there is a distinct difference between “jealousy” and “envy” and that’s whey the Bible uses those terms.
If you were to look at 2 Corinthians chapter 7 and verse 10 you would see the terms “Godly sorrow” and “repentance.” Again, not the same thing although they are often used by some to mean the same thing. Well grace and mercy are just exactly the same because they are two different words defined differently and meaning different things. They are different gifts from God and this morning we are going to examine better just exactly what these words mean.
Let’s take a look at “grace” to begin with. In 1 Timothy chapter 1 and verse 2 Paul writes to Timothy and says to him, “Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In 2 Timothy chapter 1 and verse 2 he says virtually the same thing once again using “grace” and “mercy” in the same sentence.
Paul would also write Titus in Titus 1 and verse 4 using “grace” and “mercy.”
And John would write in 2 John verse 3 the same general sentiment using “grace” and “mercy” to be wished upon those whom he was writing to.
These words may sound similar and may even be used to mean the same thing by some, but they are uniquely different. “Grace” is something that we often define as “unmerited favor.” Unmerited meaning something we do not deserve. The Nelson’s Illustrated Bible defines grace in this way. “It is favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it, and in spite of what that same person deserves.” Notice the idea there of what a person does or does not deserve. When we look at our beings as spiritual beings we recognize that we have one major problem that is keeping us out of a relationship with God and that is the problem of sin. Yet it is through grace that God helps us to overcome this.
Romans chapter 3 and verse 23 establishes that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Verse 24 reads, “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
You see, Jesus Christ has offered us something that we do not deserve. James chapter 2 and verse 10 tells us that if we sin even just once we are worthy of suffering the ultimate consequence. We are guilty of it all. But Jesus Christ comes and offers us redemption and that redemption we are taught is found in Him, or in His body which is the church.
Paul would write that preacher, Titus, in Titus chapter 2 verses 11-14, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people zealous for good works.”
The grace of God has appeared to all men, the Bible teaches us. It’s available to everyone. God doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to be saved from their sins. But in order for us to grasp that gift, in order for us to take hold of that grace, we’ve got to say “No” to sin and we’ve got to say “Yes” to Jesus Christ.
In Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8-10 Paul would write to the Christians at Ephesus, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast, for we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
He would say just in the previous chapter and would detail some of the many gifts that we have received in Christ but I want you to focus on that little two letter word “in” because it is there that we find these gifts. “In Christ,” “in the body,” “in the church,” Colossians 1:18 and 24 would define the body as being. “In Christ” we find these things!
For instance, as Paul would write in Ephesians chapter 1 and verse 2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In the previous verse he extends or offers or wishes this grace upon the saints who are at Ephesus to the children of God, to the Christians who dwelled in the city, to those people who were in Christ. He says in verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Where is every spiritual blessing found? In Christ! Not outside of Christ.
In verse 4 it says that He chose us. “He chose us to be His family that we should be holy and without blame before Him.”
In verse 5 we are taught that “we are adopted as sons into the family of God,” once again a gift that we do not deserve.
In verse 7 we realize that we have redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. That means that we have the forgiveness of sins. And what have we done to deserve forgiveness?
In verse 11 we find that in Him we have also obtained an inheritance. Think about all the blessings that we have in life, all of the good things that we can call ours because of the relationship that we have with Jesus. But think about the most precious of all, being able to spend all of eternity with our Lord and with our Savior. It is in Him that we find this grace.
But in the very same way that a person can be given grace and must accept that gift in order to enjoy it, a person can reject the gift or a person can abandon that gift. God does not force anyone to be saved. That is something that we must choose of our own free, moral agency.
Some people argue that once a person has accepted a gift that he can never again lose it. I agree that the Bible teaches that nothing can separate us from the love of God, nothing can come in, nothing can wedge its way between us and God, and nothing can force us out of that relationship but the question is: Can we abandon that relationship? Can we abandon God’s grace? Can we reject His gift?
Galatians chapter 5 and verse 4 demonstrates to us a group of Christians who were not living a Christ-like example so we would therefore call them more aptly “children of God,” but to a group of people because of their disobedience, because of their rejection of the Lord and His teachings, because of their failure to follow the Father’s Will, we read this about them: “You have become estranged from Christ.” One translation defines that, “Christ has become of no effect unto you.” One translation says, “You have been severed from Christ.” Still another says, “You have been alienated from Christ.” Now answer me this question: How can a person be saved, how can a person go to Heaven if he is alienated from Christ? If he has been severed or cut off from Jesus? If you have been estranged from your Master and if Jesus is no longer of any effect to you, how can you then look forward to a home in Heaven? This is why at the end of every single one of these various translations the wording is the same. Paul says to these children of God, “You have fallen from grace.” They had rejected the gift of God.
This is why Paul says to the young preacher, Timothy, in 2 Timothy chapter 1 verses 8 and 9, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, his prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God who has saved us and called us with a holy calling not according to our works but according to our own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
Well what about “mercy”? How is it different from grace, especially since so many people use the word “mercy” to mean “grace?” Well “mercy” is defined in Nelson’s Bible Dictionary as, “the aspect of God’s love that causes Him to help the miserable,” just as “grace” is the “aspect of His love that moves Him to forgive the guilty.” “Those who are miserable” may be either because of breaking God’s law or because of circumstances beyond their control.
So let’s take a look at that latter one first. God shows mercy by actively helping those who are miserable, who are in a difficult circumstance beyond their control. Let me give you several instances in the life of Jesus that perfectly identify this for us.
In Matthew chapter 9 and verse 27 two blind men came up to Jesus and said, “Son of David, have mercy on us.”
In Matthew chapter 15 and verse 22, “Behold a woman of Canaan came and cried out, ‘Have mercy on me, oh Lord, Son of David, my daughter is severely demon possessed.”
Matthew chapter 17 and verse 15 we find one parent saying to Jesus, “Lord, have mercy on my son for he is an epileptic and suffers severely.”
So Jesus had compassion. Jesus had mercy on these people. But God chose mercy upon those who had broken His Law, in other words for those who had sinned. John would define “sin” as the “breaking or the going against or the transgressing of God’s Law.” And as we read moments ago, Romans 3 and verse 23 teaches us that, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 6 and verse 23 gives us the price, the consequence. We read that, “The wages of sin is death.” In other words, the price that we pay for our sin is death. The payoff for that sin is an eternal separation from our God one day. So what do we need? We need mercy!
1 Timothy chapter 1 verses 12-13 Paul writes about his past and he describes the fact that, “Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man, I obtained mercy.” He would go on to describe himself as “the chief among sinners” in verses 15 and 16. But he said in verse 16, “However, for this reason I obtained mercy.” Paul recognized that he was a sinner and he was in need of some type of help to escape what he deserved and that was that eternal separation from God.
Mercy allows us to be saved from our sin but it also brings about a new birth or a new life in Christ. We read in 1 Peter chapter 1 verses 3-5 that, “There is an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled that does not fade away, that is reserved in Heaven for us,” and that’s the result of God’s mercy.
In Jude verses 20-21, “mercy brings about our eternal life.”
But because God is merciful, He expects His children to be merciful as well. In Jesus’ great “Sermon on the Mount” He begins with “The Beatitudes” and says in Matthew chapter 5 and verse 7, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”
One of the great stories about mercy in the Bible is found in Matthew chapter 18 verses 23-35. We find in this story the parable of the unmerciful servant. You have one servant who owed his master an enormous sum of money, something that he could not possibly ever pay. He cried out to the master and said, “Please help me in some way. Forgive me for this that I owe you,” and the master did. The master forgave him of the entire debt. That’s equivalent to God forgiving us of something that we can never pay for and that’s our sins. But that same servant went out and found someone who owed him money and he was rather mean to him and grabbed him by the throat and threw him in jail. It got back to the master what he had done to his own servant and he said, “Why have you done this?” In the end, he is punished for his lack of mercy and Jesus would say, “So My Heavenly Father will also do to each of you from His heart, you do not forgive your brother’s trespasses.”
According to the scriptures, grace and mercy are not the same thing. They are two very different and very important gifts that we receive from God.
A friend of mine once gave me an example of how to remember this and I thought that would be something that I would share with you before we close today. Grace is getting what you do not deserve. Mercy is not getting what you do deserve. In Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 16 we are “to come boldly to the throne of grace so that we can receive both grace and mercy.” It is my prayer that you will receive these gifts today.
(SONG # 3 - “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning”)
Again, let me thank you for putting God first and choosing to give this time to Him. It is always a pleasure to have you with us. We invite you to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves this worship to God!
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How blessed we are to have such love bestowed upon us from God. May we be thankful every day for His wondrous Grace and Mercy and for all it means to the faithful child of God!