Which? Grace or Mercy or Both?

“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our wrongdoings, like the wind, take us away.”
Isaiah 64:6 (NASB)

“To Timothy, my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 Timothy 1:1 (NASB)

Words are the tools of my work. I enjoy reading the writings of poets and others who can use language skillfully.

Some writers are especially gifted in this regard.

Puritans such as Thomas Watson were especially adept at turning a phrase. For example, Watson once wrote, “Hell is truth learned too late.”

Such a statement can jar the mindset of people who trifle with the calls of God to seek Him while He can be found.

When we read our Bibles carefully, we learn that the words “grace” and “mercy” occasionally mean the same thing—each speaks to the sinner’s need for separate things.

One biblical scholar said wisely, “Grace addresses us as needy while mercy addresses us as miserable.”

As sinners we desperately need forgiveness, without which we will be barred from heaven eternally. As fallen creatures we need comfort as we mourn and repent for our sins.

The grace of God is always greater than our sin. Grace is utterly unmerited.

I recall a conversation when a friend of mine insisted that his “good” works would help him get to heaven. He was adamant concerning this point. When I quoted Isaiah 64:6 to him, he refused to accept it.

He was unwittingly demeaning our Lord’s ability to pay the full debt for our sins. In other words, our “good” works help prop up Jesus’ work on the cross. This certainly is a low view of Jesus’ ability to save us.

The Lord’s mercy shows us that He is emotionally responsive to our suffering.

Hebrews 4:15 (NASB) reads, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin.”

So the Lord is in pain with us as we struggle with the suffering we must endure in this life.

When we come to pray about our suffering, I suggest we begin by quoting 2 Cor. 1:3 and say, “Father of mercies and God of all comfort we come…”

Addressing the Lord as merciful and comforting can make us hopeful that He both hears and is the source of help for our suffering. As you draw near in prayer fix this view of the Lord in mind.

We need a God Who is both gracious and merciful to strengthen us on our journey toward heaven. We have such a God so let us draw near to Him in prayer confidently and expectantly.

He promises to both hear and answer so come and come now.

Love Divine, all love excelling,
Joy of heav’n, to earth come down;
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,
All Thy faithful mercies crown.

Jesus, Thou art all compassion;
Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.

- Charles Wesley

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