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Wednesday
Oct212009

Theological Term of the Week

mercy
That perfection of God whereby he is good “toward those in misery and distress.”1

  • From scripture:
    But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36 ESV)
    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; 
    his mercies never come to an end;
    23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)
    But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…. (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV)
  • From Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson:

    I. Concerning God’s mercy, I shall lay down these … positions.

    [1] It is the great design of the Scripture to represent God as merciful. This is a loadstone to draw sinners to him. “I am the Lord, I am the Lord, the merciful and gracious God. I am slow to anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness. I show this unfailing love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so I do not leave sin unpunished.” Exodus 34:6-7. Here are six expressions to set forth God’s mercy, and but one to set forth his justice. “God’s mercy is far above the heavens.” God is represented as a king, with a rainbow about his throne. Rev 4:4. The rainbow was an emblem of mercy. The Scripture represents God in white robes of mercy—more often than with garments rolled in blood; with his golden scepter—more often than his iron rod. ….

    [3] There is no condition—but we may spy mercy in it. When the church was in captivity, she cried out, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed.” Geographers write of Syracuse in Sicily, that it is so situated that the sun is never out of sight. In all afflictions we may see some sunshine of mercy. That outward and inward troubles do not come together is mercy.

    [4] Mercy sweetens all God’s other attributes. God’s holiness without mercy, and his justice without mercy—would be dreadful. When the water was bitter, and Israel could not drink, Moses cast a tree into the waters, and then they were made sweet. How bitter and dreadful were the other attributes of God—did not mercy sweeten them! Mercy sets God’s power on work to help us; it makes his justice become our friend.  

    …. 

    [6] Even the worst people taste God’s mercy. Such as fight against God’s mercy, taste of it; the wicked have some crumbs from mercy’s table. “The Lord is good to all.” Sweet dewdrops are on the thistle, as well as on the rose. The diocese where mercy visits is very large. Pharaoh’s head was crowned, though his heart was hardened.

    [7] Mercy coming to us in salvation, is sweetest. It was mercy that God would give Israel rain, and bread to the full, and peace, and victory over their enemies—but it was a greater mercy that God would be their God. To have health is a mercy—but to have Christ and salvation is a greater mercy. Saving mercy, is like the diamond in the ring, which casts a more sparkling luster. 

    …. 

    [10] As God’s mercy makes the saints happy—so it should make them humble. Mercy is not the fruit of our goodness—but the fruit of God’s goodness. Mercy is a gift which God bestows. They have no cause to be proud, who live upon the alms of God’s mercy. “If I am righteous—yet will I not lift up my head.” That is, all my righteousness is the effect of God’s mercy, therefore I will be humble and will not lift up my head.

  • Depth of Mercy by Charles Wesley:

    Depth of mercy! Can there be
    Mercy still reserved for me?
    Can my God His wrath forbear,
    Me, the chief of sinners, spare?

    I have long withstood His grace,
    Long provoked Him to His face,
    Would not hearken to His calls,
    Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

    I my Master have denied,
    I afresh have crucified,
    And profaned His hallowed Name,
    Put Him to an open shame.

    I have spilt His precious blood,
    Trampled on the Son of God,
    Filled with pangs unspeakable,
    I, who yet am not in hell!

    Lo! I still walk on the ground:
    Lo! an Advocate is found:
    “Hasten not to cut him down,
    Let this barren soul alone.”

    Jesus speaks, and pleads His blood!
    He disarms the wrath of God;
    Now my Father’s mercies move,
    Justice lingers into love.

    Kindled His relentings are,
    Me He now delights to spare,
    Cries, “How shall I give thee up?”
    Lets the lifted thunder drop.

    Whence to me this waste of love?
    Ask my Advocate above!
    See the cause in Jesus’ face,
    Now before the throne of grace.

    There for me the Savior stands,
    Shows His wounds and spreads His hands.
    God is love! I know, I feel;
    Jesus weeps and loves me still.

    Jesus, answer from above,
    Is not all Thy nature love?
    Wilt Thou not the wrong forget,
    Permit me to kiss Thy feet?

    If I rightly read Thy heart,
    If Thou all compassion art,
    Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow,
    Pardon and accept me now.

    Pity from Thine eye let fall,
    By a look my soul recall;
    Now the stone to flesh convert,
    Cast a look, and break my heart.

    Now incline me to repent,
    Let me now my sins lament,
    Now my foul revolt deplore,
    Weep, believe, and sin no more.

Learn more:

  1. Don Stewart: Is God A Merciful God?
  2. A. W. Tozer: The Mercy of God
  3. Dr. Barry E. Horner: The Mercy of God (pdf)
  4. Richard L. Strauss: Rich in Mercy
  5. My own post: God’s Mercy

Related terms:

Filed under God’s Nature and His Work

1 From Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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Reader Comments (2)

Rebecca:

I enjoy this weekly series and would be interested in a discussion of Baptismal Regeneration. I've met a person who is a member of the Church of Christ, and they are quite fond of quoting the same six (or so) verses to prop up their affinity for Baptismal Regeneration.

I'd love some help in how to approach this topic,

jules

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJules @ Everyday Mommy

Hello Jules,

I have one more attributes of God term to do and then I'll see if I can't put together something on baptismal regeneration. Thanks for the suggestion.

October 23, 2009 | Registered Commenterrebecca

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