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Up Way Publications 35th Anniversary
Message of the Month
God's Mercy and His Grace
___________________________________________________________________________________________
Volume 5   No.  9                                                                                                                       August 22, 2003
This message was first written  by Samuel M. Smith  July 22, 2003 ©2003 Up Way Publications.

Mercy.  All through the Old Testament, we have scenes showing the exceeding mercy of God.  Adam and Eve could rightly have expected to be killed for their sin when they first met God after they had disobeyed Him. But instead, He saw their embarassment at being caught having sinned and made them coats of skins to replace their scratchy fig leaves. And even as God pronounced a curse on Satan and mankind, He also promised a Savior who, though being bruised by the serpent would be victorious over him. 

It would seem that Cain really expected worse punishment when he had killed his own brother, Abel, but again, God was merciful and gave Cain a mark that would indicate to any who saw him that they were not to kill him. 

David, the man after God's own heart, was a mighty warrior who killed many of the enemy in battle himself, the most famous being Goliath. But he also stayed home from one battle he should have commanded and while at home, he committed multiple sins, some of which were sins for which the penalty was supposed to be death. He lusted for another man's wife, used his royal power to commit adultery with her, tried to cover it up by contriving to have her husband come home and sleep with her, but when the husband refused, hatched a plan for his murder so he could marry her himself. 

But God was not blind nor deaf and He knew what David had done and had a prophet go to him and tell him of his sin. Being a man who really did love God, David repented sincerely and in sackcloth and ashes instead of adding to his sin  by having the prophet killed, as many other kings would have done.

Out of that experience and realizing the great mercy of God, we have many Psalms which speak to the mercy and lovingkindness of God. Numerous places in the Psalms, and especially in Psalm 118, he declares of the Lord, "...His mercy endureth forever." 

I fear that many times we in this present age forget that we are in a different relationship with God than the Old Testament saints.  In the Old Testament, Jesus had not yet been born to be the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world that I believe Abraham promised Isaac He would provide in Genesis 22:8. It was ONLY God's Grace that brought Jesus Christ to the cross of calvary and the tomb of resurrection. Let us never forget that extension of His Grace and Mercy. 

In the New Testament,  following Jesus sacrificial death, burial, resurrection and ascension as the Lamb of God (See John 1:29 
 

and 35.),  the promised Holy Spirit came to baptize and fill believers, empowering us to become new creatures in Christ Jesus with new natures and desires. 

What we tend to overlook is that while God is still merciful, loving and gracious just as He was in the Old Testament, often "winking at" or overlooking sin, we under the New Covenant have the advantage over our Old Testament counterparts because we have "Christ in you, the hope of glory," and "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature..." We have the Holy spirit to  be our Comforter as well as giving us power, "Dunamis" to overcome all Satan's temptations and wiles as well as new desires to love, serve and please our Lord.

The thought I want to be sure and carry through is that often we hear preaching about the mercy of God on the one hand and how  willing and ready God is to forgive us of sins much as the Apostle Paul feared the readers of Romans chapter 5 would feel. Fearing that they would get the thought in mind, "Why not sin more so that God's grace and mercy can abound even more toward us?" the Apostle begins Chapter 6 with  "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
"God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
"For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Romans 6:1 -6).

Especially in certain denominational circles, most sermons seem to focus almost exclusively on this mercy and grace of God and could be seen as condoning believers continuing in sin because of the exceeding mercy, grace and love of God.  And nobody can dispute that God is exceedingly loving, caring, merciful and full of grace. But while it is very true that God is gracious and merciful, He is hurt when we do things we know displease Him and are against His will for our lives. And He has already warned us that certain things bring His anger and judgment upon us very quickly.

All down through the Biblical history of mankind, God has repeatedly shown His love, His mercy and His Grace. Look at the ram in the bushes when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac and Abraham's prophecy. Centuries later,  

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God's Mercy and His Grace
 
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John the Baptist announced, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world."

Romans 6:1-4 and Colossians 3 as well as Galatians 3:27 and Colossians 2:20 do give us liberty in Christ Jesus, but these same verses also set our responsibilities to God, not to "Pay"Him for forgiving our sins, but to show our love and thanks to Him. We are now acting under the desire of love for Him rather than fearing the law of punishment and retribution. 

Yes, we have an Advocate and a High Priest, but He can be offended by our repeated violations of what we know to be right. 

In fact, I believe it can be shown that the so-called "unpardonable sin," blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, is actually more that continual rejection of the Holy Spirit's conviction that grieves Him and causes Him to cease trying to bring us under conviction of sin so we can be saved rather than one impassioned act of speaking deliberate words of blasphemy. 

How is God's grace made real to each of us in this modern age?  If it were not for the grace of God, nobody would ever have told us about the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice for sin.  Nobody would have put a tract or sermon on the internet for us to read, nobody would have travelled halfway around the world to tell us of Jesus Christ and His love for us. Nobody would have put a tract in his or her phone or electric or other bill that we opened and were attracted to read. But then, even when we read or heard the word of God's love for us, we could have just shrugged our shoulders and ignored it or put it off for later or any number of other responses, but through the grace and mercy of God,  the Holy Spirit brought our hearts and minds to a point of feeling the "pricked heart" of conviction and we asked or were instructed how to be saved.  Here God's grace really becomes apparent. 

Some preachers really do bring thousands to a point of believing that they are sinners and need salvation through the pricked heart of Holy Spirit conviction, but then, instead of instructing the new believers, who had already believed BEFORE  they felt conviction, as the original Apostles instructed the very first such believers to "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,"(Acts 2:38), far too many today are instead told that all they have to do to be saved is to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved...." (exerpted  from Acts 16:31)

Since it is much easier to count "success" by this shorcut method of making people believe they are instantly born-again Christians by just believing, this makes for  bigger success stories and because it is now more or less considered orthodox, it is the most common practice. But it leaves the sinner in sin and struggling to live a Christian life, instead of being a transformed, born again New Creature in Christ Jesus. Very few of these who accept the shortcut vaccination against real Bible salvation last for more than a few days before giving up.  So it is again the Grace of God if you were privileged to hear the original God-given, plan of salvation given to the first ever New Covenant era believers, rather than the shortcut that  really leaves most people unconverted. 

We who have tasted and seen how good and full of grace the Lord is and are real Bible Apostolics, have the privilege and yes, the responsibility to share God's grace with others who have been short changed out of it by doctrines that leave them unconverted. If we Apostolic Christians would concentrate on agreeing with all the good things other denominations teach and preach and then share deeper truths as we feel confident that the persons we are dealing with are ready to believe and know that our hearers have learned to trust our Bible knowledge and our sincerity. Both Bible knowledge AND sincerity are crucial. Even more critical is that we show the love and grace  of Jesus Christ, His real, genuine love and caring, His compassion.  And here is where we who hold the Apostolic truth so dear so often fail.

We are right and we know we are and sometimes we come off as "know-it-alls". It is all too true that "nobody likes a know-it-all." We MUST share the truth in love - in the same grace that our Lord Jesus shared to us.  And this is where agreeing on every point possible is important.  The super-salesman sells by keeping his prospective customers agreeing with him. We have much that we agree with Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, even Catholics. 

By God's Grace and Mercy, we can share with others bound by the traditions of men and doctrines formulated to prevent the New Creature from ever emerging through the genuine New Birth experience preached and practiced throughout the New Testament. We can be a part of the extension of God's Grace and Mercy to those still really lost in their trespasses and sins, struggling to live Christian lives without the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them as we share the original Message of Salvation taught, preached and practiced by the original Apostles.  Because it is by the Grace of God, and ONLY by His grace that any of us can be saved, through faith. 

--  S. M. S.
ENDNOTES:

Genesis 3: 7 - These fig leaves were undoubtedly of the large fruiting variety of fig on which two leaves would be large enough to cover front and back of human genitalia.
Genesis 3:8, Adam's fear 
Genesis 3:10-15  the curse and the promise of Messiah, the Savior 
Genesis 4:8-15 Cain's crime, punishment and protection
"God will provide Himself a LAMB... " (Genesis 22:8).
"Behold the Lamb of God." (John 1:29, 36).
"Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin andblasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men." (Matthew 12:31 In context: Matthew 12:30-32).
grieves "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of
       redemption. " (Ephesians 4:30).

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