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The Mercy of God - Holy One of Israel Part 8

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
September 30, 2022 7:00 am

The Mercy of God - Holy One of Israel Part 8

So What? / Lon Solomon

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In part 8 today, we want to go on and we want to talk about the fact that God is merciful. Now what do we mean when we talk about this word mercy? Well, if you look it up in the dictionary, the word mercy is defined as kindness beyond what may be reasonably expected. In other words, mercy is more than just normal kindness.

Mercy is kindness that is unexpected, that is undeserved, and that is unfair. You know, in the Garden of Eden, if you remember Adam and Eve, they deliberately chose to rebel against God, to disobey God, to dethrone God as the Lord of their lives and the ruler of their lives. And if we're honest, let's agree that every single one of us here has done the very same thing. Every one of us at times in our life have rebelled against God like Adam and Eve did. Every one of us have chosen to dethrone him as Lord of our lives at certain times. Every one of us have deliberately disobeyed God and lived in the lust of the flesh. And we have done this not only before we were followers of Christ, but each one of us has done this at certain times even since we've been followers of Christ. So now in fairness, how should God respond to our behavior? Or to put it another way, what do Adam and Eve and you and I deserve as the result of our choices? Well, what we deserve is we deserve judgment and we deserve punishment and we deserve alienation from God here on earth and rejection by God in eternity. And yet, listen, and yet we who know and belong to Jesus Christ, we who were enemies of God by our own choosing, we who rightly deserved a banishment from God for all eternity in spite of that through Jesus Christ, we are now the adopted children of God with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereunto.

I love that. It's on my college degree and I never get to say that. With all the rights and privileges appertaining thereunto.

And what are some of those rights and privileges? Well friends, our sins have been forgiven. We've got personal intimacy with the God of the universe here on earth.

We're going to heaven to spend all of eternity with God just to name a few. And how do we explain this undeserved treatment by God? How do we explain this unfair treatment by God? Simply friends, this is the mercy of God. I love what the Bible says, Psalm 103 verse 10. For God has not dealt with us according to our sins.

Is that good news or what? Nor has he rewarded us as our iniquities deserve. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his mercy towards those who fear him. You know, I'm always amazed when I hear these radio and TV preachers who tell us to go name it and claim it, who tell us to go to God and demand our rights from God, who tell us to go to God and tell God that we want what we deserve. Listen to me friends, if you're smart, you will never ask God to give you what you deserve. If God gave you and me what we deserve, we'd all be in big trouble. We should never go to God and say, hey God, be fair with me.

God help us if you ever ask God that question. We should go to God and we should say, God give me what I don't deserve. Give me your mercy, give me your grace, give me your blessing, give me your kindness, the things I don't deserve. And we should go to God and say, God don't be fair to me. God, be merciful to me.

Be merciful to me. And you know the good news of the Bible is that the Bible says every one of us who goes to God and cries for mercy will find a sympathetic hearing. Because the Bible says over and over that our God is a God of mercy. Mercy is not something God does, my friends. Mercy is something that simply is part of the way God is.

Listen to these verses, Psalm 103 verse 17. The mercy of God, the Bible says, is from everlasting to everlasting. Romans chapter 7 says, who is a God like you who pardons sin and who delights in mercy?

How wonderful is that? For you, O Lord, Psalm 86, are abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you. Which is why in Ephesians 2 Paul called God rich in mercy. Lamentations chapter 3, Jeremiah said it is because of the Lord's mercies that you and I are not consumed every single day.

And you know what? 2 Corinthians chapter 1, just for our last example, says blessed be God, the Father of mercies, the source of all mercy. My friends, the only reason mercy even exists on this earth is because it existed first in the heart of God. Not in the heart of man, but in the heart of God. And friends, the mercy of God is everlasting, as the Bible says, and it would take just about that long for me to tell you everything the Bible says about it, but the point is clear. Psalm 130 verse 7, with the Lord there is mercy, and it is abundant, and it is overflowing.

Thank God for that. But I want to say one other thing that the Bible says about God's mercy, and that is that God's mercy is the only basis upon which God does business with man. God will not do business with man on any other basis than his mercy. And Jesus told a story in the Bible that makes this point in a crystal clear way.

Let me read it to you. It's in Luke chapter 18. Jesus said, two men went up to the temple to pray, one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. Now Jesus could not have chosen two main characters who were any farther apart on the spectrum of Jewish society than these two guys. On the one hand there was a Pharisee, a member of the Jewish religious elite. This was a guy who was loaded with good deeds, loaded with religious activity, a pious man, and on the other extreme, a tax collector who worked for the hated Roman occupiers collecting Roman taxes. As far as the Jews were concerned, he was the lowest thing on the food chain, a bottom feeder.

Now watch. And so they went up to the temple to pray, verse 11, and the Pharisee stood and prayed this way. He said, I thank thee, O God, that I am not like other people, swindlers and unjust and adulterers, or even like that tax collector over there. He said, I fast twice a week for you, Lord, and I pay tithes on everything that I get. Now, you know, all the Pharisee said about himself was true and admirable.

He was a paragon of religious activity and spiritual commitment. I mean, he fasted twice a week. That's impressive.

I mean, most of the time I have trouble making it from lunch to dinner. You understand what I'm saying? This guy fasted twice a week for God.

Impressive. Verse 13, but the tax collector stood some distance away and was unwilling to even lift his eyes up to heaven. Instead, he beat on his breast as a sign of contrition and inner pain, and he kept saying, O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Now, this tax collector had absolutely nothing to present to God. No good works.

No religious activity. He didn't fast twice a week. He didn't pay tithes out of everything he got. All he did was humble himself and confess his sinfulness and throw himself on the mercy of God.

Do you see that? Now, Jesus said, verse 14, I tell you, it was the tax collector who went back to his house justified, right with God, acquitted before God rather than the Pharisee. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Then you say, but Lon, this isn't just not right. I mean, the Pharisee had all that religious hard work. He had all that spiritual devotion.

He had all that self-sacrifice and all that clean living. I mean, the tax collector had nothing, absolutely nothing to offer God. I mean, just pure logic, Lon, would dictate that God should have been much more pleased with the Pharisee, that he should have justified the Pharisee, that he should have acquitted the Pharisee. Well, folks, be careful you don't forget Isaiah 55, verse 8, where God says, for my ways are not your ways, and my logic is not your logic.

Let me repeat what I said a moment ago. God deals with human beings on one basis and one basis only, and that is the basis of his mercy. Any appeal made to God on any other basis than God's mercy will fall on deaf ears.

The Pharisee appealed to God on the basis of his religious activity and his personal piety and his spiritual performance, and what did he find from God? Deaf ears. People today try to appeal to God based on their church membership and their baptismal certificates and their memberships in the choir and the money they put in the offering plate. You know what they find from God based on that appeal?

Deaf ears. We, even as followers of Christ, often try to appeal to God on the basis of our years of service that we've given him and our godly obedience that we've lived for him and our spiritual faithfulness that we've put out for him. And when you appeal to God on that basis, even as a follower of Christ, you will find God is deaf to that appeal.

And you know why? Friends, it's because all of these appeals are based in human pride and they're based in human effort and they're based in human performance and the energy of the flesh, and God will not deal with any man or any woman on this basis because if he did, the glory would go to man. And God's not doing that.

This is why Romans 3.20 says, For by the energy of the flesh no one will ever be declared right in God's sight. There is only one basis on which God deals with man. There is only one kind of appeal that God will respond to and accept.

It's the kind of appeal the tax collector made. And what did he do? Friends, he humbled himself, he confessed his sinfulness, and he threw himself totally on the mercy of God. This is the appeal God hears because when God responds to this kind of an appeal, my friends, all the glory goes to God and none of it goes to man. When I think of this, I think of the story of Jonah. You remember the story of Jonah? God sent Jonah to the Ninevites.

Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire, the Ninevites. These were mean people, cruel people, awful people. And Jonah arrived in town and started preaching and said, In forty days, God's going to overthrow this city. Now watch, Jonah 3 says, The people of Nineveh proclaimed a fast, and they put on sackcloth, and they humbled themselves before God, and they repented of their evil deeds, saying, Perhaps God will change His mind and turn away from His fierce anger against us. Jonah 3, 10, And when God saw their actions, what did they do? Well, you say, Lon, they all got circumcised and converted to Judaism. No, they didn't. When God saw their actions, what did they do? Well, they all went to Jerusalem and made sacrifices at the temple. No, they didn't. You say, When God saw their actions, what did they do? Well, they all went out and helped the poor and agreed to have quiet time every morning. No, they didn't.

What did they do? Friends, they humbled themselves, and they threw themselves on the mercy of God, and when God saw their actions, God relented. Look at this. Concerning the calamity He had declared He would bring on them, and He did not do it.

Wow. Let me say, if you're here today, and you've never trusted Christ in a real and personal way, there's a quote that I want to share with you. Here's what it says. It says, No man will ever taste of God's judgment, who will throw himself on God's mercy. And friends, this is an important quote for you to understand, because this is the basis upon which the whole plan of salvation operates, my friends. At the cross, God offers mercy through the work of Christ, but the way we activate it, the way we activate that mercy, is when we come to Him the way the tax collector came to Him. When we come to the cross, the way the Ninevites came to God, not on the basis of our good works, not on the basis of our religious activity, not on the basis of our human effort, but on the basis of humility and repentance and utter reliance on the mercy of God as displayed on the cross.

And if you're here today and you've never trusted Christ, I want to warn you, don't you dare think that when you meet up with God, all of those other things are going to make a bit of difference. You're going to get deaf ears, my friends, just like the Pharisee got deaf ears. But no man who will ever taste of God's judgment, my friends, let me repeat that.

No man will ever taste of God's judgment who will throw himself on God's mercy. That's what the plan of salvation is all about. You do that.

I'm urging you. You do that at the cross. But you know, if you're here and you're a follower of Jesus already, there's a great lesson here in this same principle for us because as followers of Christ, we have to be careful that we never become Christian Pharisees.

You say, what do you mean by that? I mean, look, a lot of us as followers of Christ, we work hard to obey God as we should. We go out every day and try not to curse or to lust or to gossip or to lie or to cheat or to steal or to act unethically. But if we're not careful, my friends, very suddenly we will begin to come to God to ask for his blessing and to ask for prayers to be answered on the basis of all this stuff that we're doing.

We'll come into God and we'll say, oh Lord, look what I've been doing for you. I've been having my quiet time. I've been faithful to my wife or my husband. I've been leading my family and family devotions. I've been serving you at church. I've been giving to you faithfully. I've been doing all this stuff. Now, Lord, I want to ask you for this, that and the other thing. Please bless me. Does that sound familiar?

Well, it should. Hello. It sounds just like the Pharisee. And what happened to the Pharisee? Deaf ears.

No, no. Listen, God's delighted when we seek to obey him. Don't get me wrong. But friends, it is not because we obey God that God blesses our life. It is not because we're faithful to God that God blesses our life. It's not because we do things of religious obedience to God that God blesses our life.

Don't you ever begin thinking that as a follower of Christ. God blesses our life for one reason and on one basis only, and that is his mercy. God loves to show mercy and goodness and kindness to his children in Christ.

And he does it sometimes even when our behavior doesn't deserve it. You want to appeal to God and really see something happen, then friends, don't you become a Christian Pharisee. You go to God like David did, Psalm 6. David says, Oh Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Oh Lord. And I'll tell you, friends, when you get on your face before God and you say, Lord, these are the things I want to talk to you about, but you know what?

I don't deserve a single one of these things. But I'm appealing to you in your mercy to do these for me. Ah, friends, now you're cooking with gas.

Cooking with gas now. And you will see God honor that prayer. But if you're a Pharisee and you come to God and you try to get God to respond, ain't never going to happen, friends. Lord, have mercy on me.

That's the way we come to God, even as followers of Christ. Now that's as far as we want to go in the theology of all this, because we want to stop now and we want to ask ourselves a very important question. And you know what that question is. So, here we go, nice and loud.

One, two, three. So what? Ah, yeah, you say, Lon, so what? Say, this is good. We could stop right now. You've been feeding us. I know, but some of you say, well, you know, Lon doesn't feed us enough, so I'm going to cram it down your throat this morning. All right, here we got more for you.

We got more for you. You know, a merciful God, here's the point that I want you to take away for our so what. A merciful God expects, let me even say, no, he doesn't expect, he demands merciful children. Jesus said, Matthew chapter ten, Freely you have received, freely give. Friends, you and I who know Christ, have we not received salvation and all the benefits of that freely?

Yes or no? Freely, you didn't pay anything for that, did you? And every single day that we walk as a follower of Christ, don't we receive God's blessings and God's forgiveness and God's mercy and God's kindness freely? You don't pay anything for that, do you?

Do you? No. Okay, what did Jesus say? Freely, you have received, now freely give. And Jesus said a little bit later in Luke's gospel, be merciful, just as your heavenly Father has been merciful to you. In fact, Jesus told a wonderful story about this in the Bible, a parable actually, Matthew 18, in what's called the parable of the unmerciful servant. Listen, there was a king, Jesus said, who wished to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle them, a servant was brought in to him who owed him ten thousand talents. That's about ten million dollars in today's money. And since the servant didn't have the means to repay, his Lord commanded that he should be sold along with his wife and his children and everything he had to repay the debt. But the servant fell on his knees before his Lord and said, please be patient with me and I will pay you back everything. Did he have a chance to pay back ten million dollars? You really think?

Of course not. There was no chance in the world that that servant was ever going to be able to pay back ten million dollars. So the master felt compassion for him and he canceled his debt completely and let him go. Now let's stop for a moment and figure out who's who in the parable. In this parable, who is the king, the Lord, that was owed the debt?

Who is that? Hello class. That's God, exactly. And who's the servant who owed God ten million dollars that he forgave the whole debt and let him go free? Well that's us. As followers of Christ, that's you and me. We owed a debt we could never repay. And in God's wonderful mercy, God canceled it and let us go because of the work of Christ.

Now watch. But the servant who had just been forgiven went out and ran into one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, a couple thousand dollars. And he seized him and demanded that he pay what he owed. So his fellow slave fell on his knees and said, please be patient with me and I'll pay you back everything.

Does that sound familiar? That's exactly what the first guy just said to the king. But the first servant refused and instead he had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. And when the Lord, his Lord, the king, heard what he did, he called him in and he said to him, you wicked servant.

I canceled all your debt because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? I forgave you just because you asked me for mercy. How dare you, the king says, how dare you go out there and refuse to forgive and show mercy to your fellow man. How dare you do that? The point is that a forgiven servant has no right to refuse to forgive anybody else. Now I want to, in the last couple minutes I got here, go from preaching to meddling.

Can I do that? Alright, well it doesn't matter. I'm going to anyway. And here's the question I want to ask you. Listen, as followers of Christ, how many of us here today are just like this servant in Jesus' parable, huh? God in his great mercy has forgiven us ten million dollars and more worth of debt that we could never have repaid. And yet, in our hardness of heart, we are refusing to forgive our fellow men for the most minor of offenses by comparison. Listen my friends, hear what the parable said. When we do this, we anger God. Just like this guy in the parable did. And I want to tell you something, it is not a smart thing to do to make God angry at you.

This is not a smart thing to do. You know, God drilled this parable home to me a few years ago when he came to my relationship to my mom. Many of you have heard me talk about my relationship with my mom, how she emotionally and verbally abused me, how she used rejection and emotional brutality to try to control my life when I was a child. And you know, I had been a follower of Christ for about ten years and I was already here as the pastor of McLean Bible Church when God convicted me that I still harbored enormous hatred and enormous unforgiveness towards my mom and my heart. And that based on Matthew 18 that this unforgiveness and hatred was not only offensive to God, but that my ministry was never going anywhere until we fixed this. And so I began praying. Let me tell you what I prayed. I said, you know, Lord, I want to be honest with you and tell you I'm not sure I can forgive my mom. But I know this is what you want me to do and I know this is what you command me to do. So Lord, I'm willing to forgive her, but you're going to have to make me able, Lord. You're going to have to go way down in there deep inside of me by the power of the Holy Spirit and you're going to have to deal with the venom and the poison that is down there because I can't deal with it. And if you give me the power to forgive her, I'll do it, Lord. I'm as sincere as I can be, but I'm not sure I can do this.

You're going to have to do it for me. Amen. That was my prayer. And I prayed that prayer for about two years. And friends, all I can tell you is that God did what I asked Him to. I can't explain to you what went on deep in my soul.

I can't diagram out the mechanics of what God did in my heart. What difference does it make what He did? The point is, over about a two-year period, I found myself coming to the place where fully and completely and freely and genuinely I was able to tell my mom one day, you know what, Mom, what you did to me once was not okay, but it's okay now. It's gone. It's forgiven.

It's ancient history. She didn't ask to be forgiven. I just told her. She never asked to be forgiven. It's all right.

It didn't matter. God had done a work in my heart. And I'm convinced that it was my ability to forgive my mom, which lay at the heart of her coming to Christ a number of years later before she died.

Now listen to me. There are many of you here who know exactly what I'm talking about. Many of you here that people have hurt badly and you honestly don't think you can forgive them. Friends, I'm here to tell you, if God can give me the power to forgive my mom, He can give you the power to forgive anybody. God does not ask us to do things that He can't give us the power to do. For many of us here, let's be honest, the real issue is not whether we can forgive that person, but whether we want to.

Because many of us would much rather dwell on those past hurts, and chew on those past hurts, and rehash those past hurts. Our flesh loves to do that. And Satan loves our flesh to love to do that, because he uses that to cause strife and hatred and havoc and destruction in our world. But I want to urge you today as a follower of Jesus to search your heart, and to see where you've been acting like the unmerciful servant, and when you find those places, if you find any, I want to urge you to repent, and to ask God to forgive you, and to ask God to help you get to the place where you can show mercy and forgiveness like you were shown by God. You know, I love the verse of Scripture. Ephesians 4 32, here's what it says. It says, So then, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, watch, just as in Christ God forgave you. Friends, this should be our life verse in our families, in our marriages, in our offices, at our schools, in our neighborhoods, with our relatives. This is our life verse, forgiving others the way Christ forgave you.

And so I want to close with a question, and it's a searching question. The question is, if God were to greet your cries to him for mercy, the way you've greeted the cries of some of your fellow men to you for mercy, exactly where would that leave you? Let me repeat that. If God were to greet your cries to him for mercy, the way some of us have greeted the cries of other people to us for mercy, where would that leave you and me?

Man, if you don't like the answer to that question, then I have a recommendation for you. My recommendation is you get on your face before God, and you ask God to forgive you, and you repent, and you tell God you're willing to see it change, or you ask God to change it for you in your heart. But friends, don't you be that unmerciful servant. I'm warning you. I'm begging you. Don't you be that unmerciful servant.

You saw the attitude of the king towards that servant. You and I do not ever want to be on the receiving end of that from God. So be careful.

This is serious business, and I urge you to take it seriously. Let's pray together. Well, Lord, I did a pretty good job of meddling today, but it was good meddling because it was based on the Word of God and on our need to confront our attitudes and our behaviors biblically and to bring them into line and into conformity with the written Word of God. Lord Jesus, many of us here need your forgiveness when it comes to the way we've responded to our fellow men's request for forgiveness after you've treated us with such mercy and such kindness. And so God, convict our hearts of our need to have a clean slate with everyone.

As Paul says, As much as it lies with you, be at peace with every human being. And remind us, Lord, that we as forgiven servants have no business ever refusing to forgive anyone for anything they've done. So help us, Lord.

Some of us have deep hurt. We need your help. But make us willing that with your help, we're going to forgive and show mercy to every person we meet. Change our lives because we were here, Lord. Thank you for your wonderful mercy. May it be the foundation upon which we build our appeal and our relationship with Christ. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. God's people said, Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-29 21:17:31 / 2022-12-29 21:29:15 / 12

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