Lord's Day Liturgy

Rich in Mercy

We love God’s sovereignty for it’s certainty; He is powerful to do the pleasure of His will. We love God’s wisdom for it’s breadth and length and depth; He works and weaves all the threads in perfect purpose. And in God’s omnipotence and omniscience He loves to display His mercy.

The great doxology–perhaps the greatest in all Scripture–at the end of Romans 11 ties a bow on the revelation of God’s work among Israel and the nations, and especially how God shows mercy to the disobedient. Many Jews disobeyed in order that the gospel mercies might go to the Gentiles, and the mercy shown to the Gentiles works toward future mercy to Jews. “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all” (Romans 11:32).

Remember back to Romans 9, and Paul’s explanation about God’s glory in election. “For (the LORD) says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:15-16). God is rich in mercy (see Ephesians 2:4).

So two exhortations to confession:

1) Any failure to praise God’s mercy is disobedience. Confess your failure to praise the fulness of His kindness.

2) Any disobedience is a reason to confess your disobedience and pray to God for His mercy. Confess your sin as part of your worship; seeking His mercy honors Him.

And then by the mercies of God present your bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). To Him be glory for His mercy forever.

Lord's Day Liturgy

A Cupboard Full of Vessels

Jesus said “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). That’s good, and the “for one another” part means that this applies to a group not just to single soul. One of Jesus-disciple’s is connected in affection for many other Jesus-disciples.

In complement to that, how should the assembly be known? There should be holiness/godliness in our midst (2 Peter 3:11), there should be the speaking of truth (Ephesians 4:15), there should be using of gifts for the building up of the whole body (1 Corinthians 12:7). These are all good.

And also it’s indispensable that we are identified as the ones to whom God’s mercy has been revealed, as those who have received God’s mercy.

“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10).

Mercy is Godly. It is God’s nature to show mercy as He pleases. When He sent word through Hosea against the house of Israel, the Lord said of Gomer’s daughter, “Call her name Lo-ruhamah (‘No Mercy’), for I will no more have mercy” (Hosea 1:6). And then she bore a son, and the Lord said, “Call his name Lo-ammi (‘Not my people’), for you are not my people, and I am not your God” (Hosea 1:9).

But after this rebuke, the Lord also promised that “yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea” and “it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God’” (Hosea 1:10).

Paul quotes Hosea (2:23) in Romans 9:25-26, that Jews and Gentiles are made God’s people by God’s mercy. We are a cupboard full of vessels of mercy that make known the riches of His excellencies.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Half as Well

We don’t know half of judgment half as well as we should like; and we like less than half of mercy half as well as it deserves. If that seems unexpected or difficult to understand, I’ll try to work it out for us. We don’t appreciate judgment or mercy very well.

We don’t know half of judgment half as well as we should like. It would benefit us to know more clearly and more fully the judgment due to sin, our sin and the sin around us. Sin is terrible. It mocks our Maker. It offends His goodness and righteousness and earns His wrath. We should like to know the law better to learn our condition better, to know God’s character better. If we only knew half of judgment half as well as we should, we would be quicker to confess. We would also be more urgent in call others to escape it.

We like less than half of mercy half as much as it deserves. Mercy is even greater than judgment. Actually, our gratitude for mercy will grow as our grasp of judgment grows. The more sin abounds, mercy abounds much more. Mercy should be magnified. How could any of us sinners get out of judgment? We all deserve all we have coming to us. Yes, but God is merciful! His mercy should be known and exalted! We should like it much more than we do, certainly it deserves the fullness of our affections.

The cross helps us know and like both better. The wickedness judged and the mercy offered as Jesus bore the punishment in His body teach us about both. We don’t need forgiveness because nothing is wrong in our hearts. He will judge us. But the fact that our hearts are so wrong doesn’t mean He won’t forgive. He offers us mercy.

Lord's Day Liturgy

More Careful Next Time

How do you respond when you receive mercy or when you see mercy received by another? Mercy displayed often results in two responses: some who rejoice and some others who think it’s wrong for the first some to rejoice. How you respond has a lot to do with why you think God shows mercy, with what you believe His merciful motivation to be.

The ones rejoicing over mercy received or displayed know that the deserved sentence was canceled, and Yay! The burden was lifted, praise the Lord! The course of life altered for good, thank God! Rejoicers can rejoice because they believe that God wanted to show that mercy. Then as they freely received mercy, they freely and gladly give it.

The ones pooh-poohing the rejoicers likewise know that the deserved sentence has been canceled, the burden lifted, life altered. But the pooh-poohers believe that God showed mercy reluctantly, perhaps even resentfully. “Don’t the rejoicers know,” after all, “how put out God was that He had to show mercy? Don’t the rejoicers know how much they owe God?” If the rejoicers knew how bad they were and what it cost God, they would certainly settle down and take it seriously.

If that’s the right way to handle it, then we’re going to need to tell the angels in heaven that, when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10), they should calm down. Don’t they know what had to happen to Jesus for that sinner to be forgiven? The woman who lost her coin shouldn’t throw a party for her friends when she finds it (Luke 15:8-9), she should think about how to be more careful next time.

Mercy is not like property taxes. We don’t pay into a mercy pool and then watch God misspend our money on undeserving projects, let alone ones that don’t benefit us. No wonder we have such a hard time showing mercy, we don’t even like how God does it.

Mercy is His, He loves showing it to undeserving people, including you and me. He sent His Son because He loved us, the Son gave His life for us gladly, and the Spirit produces joy in us. That’s good news that warrants free rejoicing.