God’s Mercy, Grace and Sovereignty 2
In our article last week, we saw that the grace of God is the unmerited favour we get from God through the Lord Jesus that causes God to minister His divine life to us from the inside: through our born-again spirits, enabling us to labour in the spirit to do the will of God :
Psalms 30:5 KJV: in his favour is life:
Romans 5:21 NKJV: so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10 NKJV: But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Mercy, on the other hand, is the compassion of God towards men that causes Him to give us divine life from the outside: from the air, to save us from destruction and enable us to be faithful to the end, when the weaknesses of our flesh would have caused us to be unfaithful.
Jude 21 NKJV: keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Lamentation 3:22 NKJV: Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.
1 Corinthians 7:25 KJV: I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
Now we increase the grace of God in our lives by humility: submitting to the will of God when you don’t feel like it, and diligence: applying concentration and strength in doing the will of God.
1 Peter 5:5 NKJV: Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Proverbs 11:27 NKJV: He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.
There is a cycle between grace and diligence: the grace of God gives you grace to be diligent and the more diligent you are the more grace, or life, you receive from God. This cycle causes the grace of God in your life to grow, increase and be multiplied so you start walking in the fulness of God’s grace, like the Lord Jesus, where you receive the life and power of God or the Spirit without measure or without limit: in abundance of whatever need you may be facing.
2 Peter 1:2 NKJV: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
2 Peter 3:17-18 NKJV: but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
John 1:16 NASU: For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
John 3:34-35 NIV: For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.
Now the fear of God and integrity: honesty of heart causes the mercy of God upon our lives to increase.
Psalms 103:11 NKJV: For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV: 9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
For example, God showed mercy, in His sovereignty, to Abimelech, a Gentile King, who had taken Sarah, Abraham’s wife, into his harem, thinking she was Abraham’s sister, and did not allow Him to commit adultery with Sarah because of the integrity of his heart:
Genesis 20:2-6 NKJV: Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.‘ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.
Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, who feared God and prayed regularly to the God he did not yet know (Eph. 2.12), got born-again and filled with Holy Spirit by the mercy of God, exercised in God’s sovereignty, by letting him have a vision to send for Peter. Also God in His sovereignty allowed Peter to see a vision that caused him to agree to go to the house of a gentile.
Acts 10:1-6 NKJV: At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
Acts 10:24-29 NKJV: As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” 27 Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection”
Acts 10:34-36 NKJV: Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
Acts 10:44-46 NIV: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
It is instructive to observe that there many people like Cornelius and Abimelech today, who have integrity of heart and the fear of God and are not yet born-again through Jesus Christ (Jn. 10.16): they maybe Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus etc. However God moves in their lives sovereignly in His mercy and will ultimately get them born-again.
So we see that humility and diligence will increase the grace of God upon our lives, while honesty or integrity of heart and the fear of God will increase the mercy of God upon our lives.
In our article next week, we will see what causes God to withdraw His mercy and grace from people’s lives, using Pharaoh and Saul as examples, and how to avoid this happening to you.