Definition of Mercy—(in terms of the receiver) Not getting what is rightly deserved.
In the scope of this series I am considering divine mercy as exercised to humanity. This is specifically evidenced in the merciful patience of God in not immediately destroying all who have rebelled against his revealed will.
The Perceived Divine Dilemma
Deuteronomy 32:3-4 3 “For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God! 4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.
God has clearly stated that he is just, he is perfect, without injustice! So how can God forgive? Is he stuck? Are we his creation stuck?
In order to forgive God must be both Just and Merciful at that same time. This is often stated in the Bible. For instance consider the words to Moses:
Exodus 34:6-7 6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
How can God be both merciful and just simultaneously?
Psalm 145:7-9 7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness. 8 The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. 9 The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.
On what basis can God even begin to promise that he will be merciful with his unwavering monument of justice looming?
The Perfect Divine Solution
In reality there is only one provision for God to maintain his justice while extending his mercy (hence the exclusivity claims of the biblical gospel, another post =) This provision is found only in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is in Christ alone that God demonstrates his righteousness and justice (not winking at sin, but empting divine wrath on the ‘guilty’).
Romans 3:23-26 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
This is so good. Because has not compromised his character he is able to show mercy. But He is not able to even talk about mercy without full satisfaction of the righteousness & justice waiting in the wind (indeed in God’s mind it is satisfied because he is outside of time).
God has been forbearing with us as sinners. And has been promising mercy to the contrite…but on what basis? On the basis of Calvary! For it is only on Calvary, the cross of the Savior that God may extend the gracious arm of mercy to the sinner!
Left to ourselves we are devoid of mercy and enslaved to sin; but God, according to the tender mercies of Jesus has acted on our behalf, fully satisfying divine justice in order to extend divine mercy.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.
Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me Augustus M. Toplady (1740-177