Category Archives: Mercy
What is to follow is definitely the most unique blog I have ever written.
I am learning some unexpected truths in recent weeks…
Unless I am missing something, there are only 2 basic ways to resolve conflict? 1) force/domination/control; 2) communication/mutual respect/compromise.
One requires manipulation, intimidation, selfishness, pride, and arrogance; the other requires selflessness, yielding, deferring, showing preference, humility & sobriety.
Which one sounds like Jesus?
Which one requires the Life of Jesus to be manifested, by Grace, in my life?
For any conflict to be resolved, both parties must have an abiding attitude of Biblical repentance: my ways & my thoughts, are NOT God’s ways & God’s thoughts. In fact my ways and thoughts are contradictory to His. Possessing a foundational attitude that my ways and my thoughts are “wrong” will go a long way in resolving conflict. But – as will life in general – we don’t really believe we are wrong… Do we?
No one enjoys conflict. Yet, conflict is clearly a natural part of life.
To see conflict resolved, both parties have to be willing to lay down “self” at the negotiation table and both must approach resolution with a willingness to “take all the blame” (if both are willing, then in the end, neither will have to).
Hidden (or not so hidden) agendas have to be abandoned, and both parties must want the good of the other, above their own good. Coming to the table – reserving force or control as a possible option “if all else fails” – will not produce lasting results (at least not godly results). It is better to come to the table willing to accept your own defeat, than to come resolved that “at all costs” you will settle the matter!
So there are two problems with this: 1) I have to have these qualities in me; 2) The other person has to have these qualities in them (and technically a third problem when we accept that we only have control over our own qualities).
What are we to do then, if we don’t see signs of these qualities in the other party? Seems to me, all I can do is to diligently ask God to work the qualities in me, and as He does – sit back, wait and trust, and see what He does in the other party…
Just sitting here pondering the hurts, pain, wounds and scars of much unresolved conflict around me….
P.S. Also, remember, there is only one Being who can persuade change in the heart of a person, and it isn’t me nor you – we are at the mercy of the Grace of God alone…. Just the way He wants it!
Mercy and Grace
Part 1: The Distinction
Guest Blogger: Phil Powell
Most Christians I know take great comfort and find welcomed relief in Romans 6:14b. “…you are not under law, but under grace.” We tend to gloss over or flatly ignore the surrounding versus including the first half of that same verse that declares, “For sin shall not be your master,” let alone the following verse, “What then, shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!”
Our struggle is this. We have accepted the gift of Christ from the Father, but we see in our lives that we still go on sinning, perhaps less or differently than before, but in the light of Christ we still see our darkness. The sinless life of Christ acts as the same plumb bob as the Law that exposes the fact that our lives do not line up with God’s requirement of holiness. For the most part, we have justified our sinning condition by declaring our position in Christ and rejoicing that we are no longer under the Law meaning, in our minds, we no longer have to do what the Law says because we are under grace. But here’s the rub. The Father gave us more commands through Jesus Christ than He did through Moses. The Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commands.” If we are even slightly familiar with the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John this should be a frightening prospect.
Of course, Isaiah 53:5 says He took our punishment. Yes! Praise God! Our position with the Father, lost through Adam, has been restored through the sin offering of Christ. We have been reconciled back to our Father. Because of the death of Christ the veil between us and our Holy Father has been ripped in two and we are now seated in Heavenly places with Christ. Because of the cross and the shed blood of Christ the sacrificial Lamb, and through our faith in that sacrifice, our position is established. Again, praise God!
Isn’t that enough? Now that that’s settled, can’t I push on through life doing as much good as I can to show Him how much I appreciate my “avoid hell free” ticket and what He did to obtain it for me? This is the mercy of the cross: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
But there is something more. Through faith we died with Christ. Anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Rom. 6:6) We have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Rom. 6:18) Paul’s instruction is to offer the parts of your body in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness, not to impurity as you used to do. (Rom. 6:19) We are not free from the consequences of sin, for we shall reap what we sow. (Gal. 6:7, 8) He that sows to please his sinful nature will reap destruction; he that sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life. “…do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.” (Gal. 5:13) “…live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (or flesh).” (Gal. 5:16).
However, if we are honest with ourselves, we know we are frustrated that so many of the desires of our flesh still control us.
“Why, if I am seated with Christ in Heavenly places, do I still get so angry when someone obstructs or hinders my pursuit of what I want? Why am I so dissatisfied and want more or different than what I have? Why do I still gravitate to those familiar sins that gratify my flesh? Why do I try so hard to get people to think highly of me? Why do I worry about tomorrow?”
Why would Jesus tell us not to do these things knowing we couldn’t even keep the Ten Commandments much less the scores of Christ’s commandments?
I submit that Grace has lost its effectualness for us because we have confused it with mercy. We cannot have faith in something we’re not aware of. As long as we think being “under Grace” simply means the penalty for our sins has been paid, doing away with the consequences of sin, the true power of Grace is rendered impotent by my lack of faith through which Grace is made effective. Let me explain.
Mercy is defined by the modern dictionary as “compassionate treatment of an offender. A disposition to be kind and forgiving.” The Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines mercy as “that benevolence, mildness, or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries or to treat an offender better than he deserves. The disposition that tempers justice and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and to forebear judgment.”
In the Old Testament, the Lord often referred to having mercy on someone. The Psalmist repeats many times “His mercy endures forever.” The original Hebrew word translated as mercy refers to favor, kindness, pity, and compassion.
It was because of God’s mercy that He gave the Law. His people needed to know what sin is in order to see how their lives contrasted with and were at enmity with their Holy God. His goal was for the creation to ultimately be reconciled to its Creator so that, once again, the Creator might indwell His creation. Without the Law, His people couldn’t know what sin was, nor realize their need of a Savior.
In the New Testament, the original Greek word translated as mercy also means to have compassion or pity on someone. Many times those who needed healing or deliverance cried out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me;” an inducement to show compassion or mercy by doing something.
Paul greets both Timothy and Titus with “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find Grace to help in time of need. So, there is obviously a distinction between mercy and Grace.
It is the great, forever enduring mercy of God that motivated Him to send His son to take the punishment for our sins and reconcile us to Himself through the death of Jesus. We know from Romans 5:10 and others, that through His death and our faith in His death we are brought back into right position with God; new wine skins ready to receive the new wine.
So there was mercy under the old covenant of the Law and there is mercy under the new covenant of Grace. But the story does not stop on the cross. It doesn’t stop with the atoning blood. It doesn’t stop even with the tearing open of the veil of the temple giving us access to the holiest of holies. No. After the cross is the resurrection! Christ made alive to indwell us with His Life. Romans 5:10 goes on to say, “…having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” “Saved” is translated from the Greek word sozo, meaning to be healed, made whole, and made complete. This is accomplished by Christ’s Life.
COMING SOON: Mercy and Grace – Part 2: Welcome To Grace!
Guest Blogger, Phil Powell, is a husband, father, and grandfather; entrepreneur, business owner, community & church leader, mentor, faithful Berean, and passionate lover of Christ. Phil resides in rural west Georgia with his wife of 40 years, and attends The Church at Chapelhill in Douglasville.
Mercy and Grace
Part 2: Welcome To Grace
Guest Blogger: Phil Powell
The modern dictionary defines grace as “seemingly effortless beauty of charm or movement or form. A pleasing characteristic or quality. Skill at avoiding the inept or clumsy course. A virtue or gift granted by God.” That’s just a secular definition but, I have to say, it’s a pretty good picture of what the Life of Christ looks like in someone who is truly and completely surrendered to His Grace.
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines grace as “Favorable influence of God in renewing the heart and restraining from sin. A disposition proceeding from divine influence.”
The original Greek word translated as grace refers to “the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life including gratitude. It is a benefit, a gift.” Although it is occasionally translated as favor, it is overwhelmingly used in the context of divine power gifted from God to people for the accomplishing of God’s purpose. It is the divine empowerment that makes it possible for humans to do what humans cannot do. Or, better stated, Grace is the actualization of the Holy God doing through man what man cannot do himself. Let’s see if we find this to be a foundational scriptural principle.
“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and much Grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33
“So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of His Grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.” Acts 14:3
“From Attilia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the Grace of God for the work they had now completed.” Acts 14:26
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of His Grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32
“…through whom we have gained access by faith into this Grace in which we now stand.” Rom. 5:2
“So that, just as sin reigned in death, so also Grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 5:21
“We have different gifts, according to the Grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.” Rom. 12:6
“I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the Grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the gentiles…” Rom. 15:15
“By the Grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder…” I Cor. 3:10
“But by the Grace of God I am what I am, and His Grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them, yet not I, but the Grace of God that was with me.” I Cor. 15:10
“Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s Grace.” II Cor. 1:12
“And God is able to make all Grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” II Cor. 9:8
“But He said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”” II Cor. 12:9
“But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His Grace…” Gal. 1:15
“For it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2:8
“I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s Grace given me through the working of His power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this Grace was given me to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Eph. 3:7, 8
“You then, my son, be strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus.” II Tim. 2:1
“For the Grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness, and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age.” Titus 2:11, 12
“Wherefore we are receiving a Kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have Grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly fear.” Heb. 12:28
There are many more references and much could be written about them. For our purposes here, it is important to note that Grace is used to denote both “God’s favor” and “God’s favors” and includes the power that connects them.
So, how can we realize His Grace in our daily lives? How can we experience this empowerment not to sin and to actually fulfill the purposes for which He made us, redeemed and called us? Just as we enter into His death and receive forgiveness and reconciliation through faith, so also we receive the power of Grace through faith.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him…” II Pet. 1:3
So how do we begin to have faith in the Grace that God has given? According to James chapter 4, God gives Grace to the humble. We must submit ourselves to God. The Kingdom of God and God’s favor is reserved for those who become as little children recognizing their total dependence upon their Father who works in them both to will and to do according to His good purpose. We must bow to the “author and finisher of our faith.” It is God’s will that His children know Him. Let us ask Him to reveal Himself to us. When He does we will hear and faith will arise. May we behold His glory, the one who came from the Father full of grace and truth. His truth sets us free from sin and His Grace empowers us to live that way.
(February 11, 2015)