God's Mercy

Jesus told the following story: A certain king wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, "Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all." 'Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt '(Matthew 18:23–27). It must be fiction, a parable, because who in their right mind would wipe out such a huge debt? It was achieved only by the servant throwing himself on the mercy of a lord who was more compassionate and forgiving than probably any person you know. The remarkable thing about God is that, despite His hatred of sin, He feels pity for those who, despite being sinners, share that hatred. He is merciful towards them. The Psalmist says of Him: 'The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities' (Psalm 103:8–10). This is a wonderful statement of what God is like, which is often repeated in the Bible. It first appears in the Old Testament, which many people think describes a fierce unforgiving God, different from the God of love in the New Testament. But there is no contradiction. Here it is again, this time in the New Testament: 'The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance' (2 Peter 3:9).

God's Way Out

God our Saviour, 'who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth' (1 Timothy 2:3–4); wants us to be saved from the effect of our sins, but he is a God of justice, as well as a Saviour. He condemns sin, but in His great mercy He is prepared to forgive the repentant sinner. 'Do you... not know that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?'(Romans 2:4). God wants to help us, but we must get to know and understand the truth. Not your truth, not our truth – God's truth. He shows us the only way to live, as only He can. 'Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved' (Acts 4:12). That "name" is Jesus, which means "God saves".

The Role of God's Son

'There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all '(1 Timothy 2:5–6).

God has given His only Son to be the intercessor between God and mankind. We can therefore only come to God through him. Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience. In overcoming sin, and in finally succumbing to death, Jesus showed God's condemnation of sin. He revealed God's just ways to men in his teaching and in his behaviour. Perhaps his greatest act of obedience was to voluntarily surrender his life, when in fact he had the power to put a stop to it.

'God (sent) His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh' (Romans 8:3).

Jesus was a human being and represented all those who hate their tendency to sin against God, described by the Apostle Paul as follows: 'To will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice... O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!' (Romans 7:18–25).

Jesus offered himself as a voluntary sacrifice. His was a perfect sacrifice and therefore was acceptable to God for our sins. For the sake of His Son, God shows mercy to the rest of us by forgiving our sins – if we turn to Him.'"Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God..." By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all' (Hebrews 10:9–10).

So at the very time that human beings did their worst for God by killing His Son, God was doing His best for the human race. 'In Him (God) we have redemption through his (Jesus') blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us' (Ephesians 1:7–8).But that's not all that God does for us. Jesus didn't just die; he left the grave after three days to become immortal. We too can become immortal and enjoy life on earth in the Kingdom of God, working with Jesus. That's God's offer to all of us. It is our sin that separates us from God, because He hates it. He has decided to offer us His mercy through the work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christthe world_in_His_hands_2.

(Rod Hale www.Gladtidingsmagazine.org)