How should the fact that Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment affect what I can know about my day to day fellowship with God? Were it not for mercy, could anyone be saved? If God were not exceedingly merciful and patient with humanity, what would be our immediate destiny?
As we consider these questions, we will do so in light of the current series as well as in light of other relevant passages. We have already established the fact that without the mercy and grace of God, no one could be saved; all would be lost! However, we know that there have been people of past generations who have been saved, therefore the grace and mercy of God must have been operative in those generations. Likewise inasmuch as our Lord’s character does not change (Hebrews 13.8), it follows that these same Divine attributes of grace and mercy are presently operative even as they will be in future generations even as long as time shall last.
Given the fact of grace and mercy, what can I know about my day to day fellowship with God? John treated this very issue extensively in his little five chapter book of 1John. Consider some of his statements: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1.6-7). “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” (1 John 2.3-5; emphasis mine, jb). In fact the little word know is used 41 times in this tiny epistle, many times giving the believer assurance of his continuing fellowship with the Father.
If God were not exceedingly merciful and patient with humanity, what would be our immediate destiny? Peter addressed this question and so it is to his writings that we turn for answers. “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. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3.9-10). A few verses later, Peter spoke again of the longsuffering nature of God. “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (2 Peter 3.14-16; emphasis mine, jb).
The point here is just this: There is a tremendous victory that has been fought and won by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This does not mean that we may sit idly by and await our death or His coming; neither does it mean that when we have done His bidding that we have in any way earned or deserved eternal salvation. Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment, not my good works or doctrinal purity! At the risk of being monotonous, apart from the grace and mercy of God Almighty, no man could be saved!
1. What does it mean that God is longsuffering (break the word down into it two root words)? In what way does God suffer long? What is another word that we could use instead of longsuffering?
2. What does it mean to know and to know that you know (see 1 John 2.3)? What was it John said that we could know that we know?
3. It is God’s will that how many people be saved? Will all be saved? If not, why not? Did Jesus not die for the lost? How are grace and mercy made operative on behalf of those who have fellowship with God (see 1 John 1.7)?
4. Even if we are saved, who secured our salvation? To whom does the glory belong?
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