(Article for publication week of 8-10-2011 AD)
“Who is a pardoning God like Thee, that pardeneth iniquity, that passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retained not His anger forever, because He delighted in mercy” (Micah 7:18). Dear reader, do you not rejoice to know that God is merciful? Where would you and I be were it not for the mercy of God? Thank the Lord that he delights in mercy!
Mercy may be distinguished from grace. Grace is when God gives a sinner what he does not deserve. Salvation is a free gift of God and is bestowed upon believers in Christ gratuitously by God. None of us deserve salvation; therefore it is all of grace.
On the other hand, mercy is when God withholds from us what we do deserve. Every person deserves eternal punishment in hell, so when God saves a sinner from hell, it is all of His mercy. Dear reader, do you realise that you are a hell-deserving sinner?
God’s mercy may also be distinguished temporally and eternally. Everyone, saved and unsaved enjoys the temporal mercy of God. It is a mercy of God that He lets a hell-deserving sinner live any time outside of hell. To be able to draw a single breath out of hell is all of God’s mercy. When you come to realise that, you will certainly see that you are indeed getting better than you deserve. Regardless of what you are going through today, if you are not already in hell, you are doing better than you deserve, for that is exactly what you, a poor sinner deserves by nature. And, no matter what present misery you are now in, the fact that it is not much worse is a mercy of God. Many of you that are unsaved are enjoying good health, respectable families, and material prosperity, and that is all of God’s mercy. These are temporal mercies that all people enjoy to one degree or another.
But, then there is the eternal mercy of God whereby He withholds from elect sinners what they deserve eternally. Thus our text speaks of God’s mercy toward the “remnant of His heritage.” God mercifully spares the believer in Christ (synonymous with “elect sinners”) from the hell he deserves because His justice was satisfied by the atoning death of Christ. This is a mercy that only the believer in Christ enjoys. God delights in mercy! He showed mercy to His elect people by passing the punishment that we deserved to His Eternal and Coequal Son! Oh! Thank God for such mercy!
Now, dear reader, think not that because God has kept you out of hell until today that He will always show such mercy to you. Saving mercy is in Christ Alone. Unless you are joined to the Sin Bearer by faith, you will find out that God’s mercy was only for this life. Unless the justice of God towards you as a hell deserving sinner is satisfied by Christ, you will at last be cast into eternal torment where God’s mercy will be no more. In hell you will never hear another gospel message about God’s mercy for sinners. In hell you will never be able to read the Narrow Way again. In hell you will not have anyone plead with you to repent and believe in Christ. You will not enjoy a family, health or prosperity again. It will be all over for you- forever.
Oh! Poor sinner! Come to the Dear Saviour of sinners today while there is still mercy to be found. God delights in mercy so much that He gave His Son to be a Saviour and Redeemer for all who would ever believe in Him. May the Holy Spirit draw you to the merciful Saviour now.