You know the courtroom scene. There is the criminal found guilty and the judge is about to pass judgement and sentence the guy for punishment. Then the judge does a strange thing and says “you are free to go.” Now this guy is guilty, really guilty. He did rob the bank and shoot the teller and … He should absolutely go to jail maybe even the chair! But the judge lets him off. Our justice meter is pegged in the wrong direction. Our knowledge of good and evil says this is way out of balance. We need a correction. We need some fairness. How dare any judge let such a guilty guy go!
This is why Jesus on the cross. God has always been merciful. He never desired sacrifice, we did:
Hos 6:6 For I desire steadfast love (mercy in the Septuagint) and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (ESVST)
So God loves us so much He comes all the way down to our level to prove His love. He sacrifices Himself. He doesn’t want anything from us. His nature is to forgive us. His expression of love towards us is His mercy. Jesus on the cross satisfies all the justice requirements. We can have confidence that if He says we are forgiven, we are forgiven. If we doubt, we can look to the cross. If we fear, we can look to the cross. If the enemy lies to us, we can look to the cross. If the pastor says “well but you need to do bla bla bla” you can look him right in the eyes and say JESUS! Sorry religious spirit, sorry satan, we won and you lost. That is mercy. That is God’s heart.
Grace is something more. Grace includes mercy, or in the context of this series, mercy paves the way for grace. Mercy is the motive and purpose of the “dorea”a gift and the “charisma” gift is the effect of grace. Check out “A Gift or Gift” for an explanation.
Back to the courtroom. The “guilty guy” just got let off. Now the judge does something that just blows your mind. He gives him the keys to his car and his house. He hands him a suitcase of cash. He gives him the access code to the executive bathroom. He makes him CEO of a fortune 5000 company. He adopts this guy as his son and right there on the spot adds him to his will. Signed and certified. That is God’s Grace. That is Jesus resurrected.
Here are a few comparisons to chew on. What do you think?
Mercy changes our situation, Grace changes us.
Mercy is God’s expression of love towards us. Grace is God’s expression of love in us.
Mercy moves us to show mercy. Grace moves us to change situations.
Mercy is the grounds for forgiveness. Grace is the grounds for justification.
Mercy changes our past and present. Grace changes our eternal perspective.
Mercy gets us off. Grace changes our location.
Mercy lets us go. Grace sets us free.
With a fresh perspective check out these verses:
Eph 2:4 But God still loved us with such great love! He is so rich in compassion and mercy! ⁵ Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, He united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by His wonderful grace! ⁶ He raised us up with Christ the Exalted One, and we ascended with Him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm , for we are now joined as one with Christ! ⁷ Throughout the coming ages we will be the visible display of the infinite , limitless riches of His grace and kindness which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ! ⁸ For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in Him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, not even our faith, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! ⁹ So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving. (Passion Translation)
Can you see the two together, mercy and grace? Remember the word “saved” is more than a ticket to Heaven. It is being changed, transformed, set free, healed, delivered, made like Jesus.
To see Grace in our lives we have to submit to it. We have to receive it. We have to believe it. Mercy gets us out of our mess. Grace gets rid of the stuff that made the mess. It is supernatural. It is the Holy Spirit inside of us. It is God’s power in us and through us. Grace changes everything. We get to not only get out of jail but get to be better. Our status changes legally and actually. Mercy says I don’t get punished for my bad behavior. Grace removes any motivation or excuse for bad behavior. The power of Grace makes us better.
So yet again accepting the two gifts of “Jesus on the cross (dorea)” and “Jesus resurrected (charisma)” are necessary. If you only know mercy, you can’t see your circumstance change. It becomes “mercy, mess up, mercy, mess up…” If you are willing to accept Christ in you the hope of glory, His soaking of you in the Holy Spirit, His fiery love manifest…you can be changed. You can be empowered for success.
Here are a few more verses to encourage you:
Tit 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (ESVST)