The Mercy of God

In last week’s article we discussed the terms “grace”
(“unmerited favor”) and “mercy” (“compassion”).  It has
been said that “grace” is receiving something that we
do not deserve (e.g., salvation); whereas “mercy” is not
receiving something that we do deserve (e.g.,

During Andrew Jackson’s presidency a man named
George Wilson robbed a train and killed a guard.  He
was convicted and sentenced to hang.  However,
before the sentence could be carried out, President
Jackson intervened with a presidential pardon.
Amazingly, Wilson refused it.  Ultimately, the case went
to the Supreme Court and Chief Justice John Marshall
handed down the court’s decision: “A pardon is a
parchment whose only value must be determined by the
receiver of the pardon.  It has no value apart from that
which the receiver gives to it.  George Wilson has
refused to accept the pardon.  We cannot conceive why
he would do so, but he has.  Therefore, George Wilson
must die.”  “Pardon,” declared the Supreme Court,
“must not only be granted, it must be accepted.”
Thusly, George Wilson was hanged for his crimes.

Likewise, God, who delights in mercy (Mic. 7:18; Isa. 55:
6-7; Lam. 3:22-23), has provided pardon for our sins
through His Son Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:3); but we must
be in Christ (cf. Gal. 3:26-29) in order to obtain His
mercy (Tit. 3:5; cf. Lk. 1:50).  God’s pardon must be
accepted in the way God has ordained; for those who
do not accept His pardon will perish.  Friend, have you
been pardoned from your sins?

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You’ve Got a Big Mouth

Has anyone ever said that to you?  If so, I’m guessing
that you didn’t take it as a compliment.  How could
you?  It insinuates that you have spoken something
that is unacceptable (perhaps you told a lie, betrayed
a confidence, slandered someone, etc.).  But you
know, in a sense, the Bible accuses us of the same
thing when we’ve said something wrong.  In fact,
James gives a stern warning about the dangers of the
tongue.  In James 3:5 he said,
“Even so the tongue is
a little member and boasts great things.  See how
great a forest a little fire kindles!”

It has been said that more damage can be
accomplished by a thing spoken than by a deed
done.  If you have ever been on the receiving end of a
verbal assault you know this can be very true.  (That
old “sticks and stones” rhyme doesn’t always help,
does it?)  But beware of hypocrisy.  There are those
who never blink an eye at gossiping, backbiting, and
slandering others; but should those same words be
spoken against them, they will cry, “Foul.”  Are you
like that?  If so, always remember, “the measure you
use, it will be measured back to you”
(Matt. 7:1).
Friend, Jesus did not say, “Do unto others as they do
unto you,” or “before they do unto you.”  He said,
“…whatever you want men to do to you, do also to
(v. 12).  If you don’t want people speaking
evil of you, don’t speak evil of them.  Do you get what
I’m saying?

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Not By Faith Only

Are we saved by faith alone?  Many would say,
“Yes,” but is that what the Bible actually teaches?
Let’s see.

On this subject, James asks, “What does it profit, my
brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not
have works?  Can faith save him?”
(Jas. 2:14)  As he
goes on to prove, that kind of faith will save no one.
Please understand that James does not minimize the
importance of faith.  The doctrine of salvation by faith
is clearly taught in the New Testament (Rom. 5:1;
1 Jn. 5:1; Jn. 3:16; 3:36; etc.), but nowhere in the
New Testament is the doctrine of salvation by faith
ONLY taught.  The faith that saves is of the type that
expresses itself in obedience to the commandments
of the Lord (cf. 1 Jn. 2:3-6); and it produces a
blessing only when it does so.  Hence why James
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have
works, is dead”
(Jas. 2:17).

Yet, someone may say, “But Paul said we are not
saved by works.”  Paul said “that a man is justified
by faith apart from the deeds of the law”
(Rom. 3:28);
whereas James said,
“You see then that a man is
justified by works, and not by faith only”
(Jas. 2:24).
Is this a contradiction?  Certainly not.  The difference
is that Paul was referring to works that are
EXCLUDED from God’s plan to save (e.g.,
meritorious works – Rom. 4:2-8; works of human
achievement or devising – Tit. 3:5, Eph. 2:8-9; etc.)
and James was referring to works that are
INCLUDED in God’s plan to save (i.e., obeying, by
faith, the commands of God – cf. Heb. 11:7,17-19;
Mk. 16:16; Acts 10:35; etc.)  They are that which
perfects faith (Jas. 2:20-24).  Please understand that
even Paul taught the necessity of obedience to the
commands of Christ (Rom. 6:17-18) in order to be
saved (Phil. 2:12; Rom. 2:8-9; 2 Thess. 1:8).  Those
who hold to a “faith only” doctrine (who reject any
works whatsoever) ought to also consider that Jesus
said that faith itself is a work (Jn. 6:28-29).

Faith by itself cannot be seen.  Its existence is
evidenced only through the works that it produces
(Jas. 2:18).  If all one had to do to be saved was
have the mental acceptance of Christ then the
demons could be saved (v. 19); yet that is not
possible (cf. Matt. 8:28-29).  I find it interesting that
the only passage in the Bible that says, “faith only”
(Jas. 2:24), is a passage that explicitly rejects the
doctrine of salvation by faith only.  In fact James said,
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith
without works is dead also”
(v. 26)

So then, friend, is your faith a saving faith?

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The Anatomy of a Christian: The Feet

Twenty times in the four gospels Jesus said, “Follow
The phrase “Follow Me” is synonymous with
such expressions as
“walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:7)
“walk in Him” (Col. 2:6); but then that’s just
common sense, for one cannot follow a person
without walking after them.

The Bible is replete with expressions about feet and
walking (whether literal or figurative, whether in
reference to sinfulness or godliness).  For example,
Solomon says of the wicked, “their feet run to evil”
(Prov. 1:16) – and   that’s something that God hates
(6:18).  On the other hand David said,
“Blessed is
the man who walks not in the counsel of the
(Ps. 1:1).   Truly such a person “walks by
faith, not by sight”
(2 Cor. 5:7).  Furthermore, Peter
reminds us that Christ left us an example,
“that you
should follow His steps”
(1 Pet. 2:21).  Well, friends,
if you are living a life of sin, you are certainly not
following in His footsteps.
“Can two walk together,
unless they are agreed?”
(Amos 3:3)

Perhaps you are a New Testament Christian.  Did
you know that a Christian can be “led away with the
error of the wicked”
(2 Pet. 3:17)? “Therefore let him
who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”
(1 Cor.
10:12).  This is serious!  One saved can be lost
(Exod. 18:24-26; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; Heb. 10:26-31).
Thus, we must be careful in what direction we allow
our feet to trod, for if we are not paying attention, if
we get distracted, we will stumble.  Therefore,
not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in
the way of evil.  Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn
away from it and pass on”
(Prov. 4:14-15).  Rather,
“walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of
the flesh”
(Gal. 5:16).  John said, “This is love, that
we walk according to His commandments”
(2 Jn. 6).

Simply put, friends, if you do not “walk according to
His commandments” you do not love Him.  Do you
“follow” what I’m saying?

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The Anatomy of a Christian: The Knees

Perhaps you don’t think that much about your knees,
but just imagine how difficult life would be without
them.  Imagine how challenging it would be to
function day in and day out if your knees were
handicapped or injured.  Well, no doubt many of you
already know the pain and frustration that I speak of.
Certainly those who have had knee surgery can
relate.  Healthy knees enable the legs to bend and
operate so that we can walk, run, sit, climb……why
they even make it possible to kneel.

Truly, any spiritual application one may make about
“knees” would involve (above all else) the concept of
kneeling or bowing down.  In the Bible such a
posture is often associated with humble submission,
worship, and prayer.  It is understood in the
expression, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the
Lord, and He will lift you up”
(Jas. 4:10).  It is
articulated in the words:
“Oh come, let us worship
and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our
Maker.  For He is our God, and we are the people of
His pasture, and the sheep of His hand”
95:6-7).  It is common in prayer.  Jesus often knelt
down when He prayed (Lk. 22:41), as did Daniel
(Dan. 6:10) and Paul (Acts 20:36), etc.

Though one may pray or worship while in any
physical position (cf. 1 Tim. 2:8; Mk. 11:25; Acts 16:
13), kneeling or bowing before the Lord is significant,
for such a lowly position exhibits a humble spirit and
demonstrates one’s deep and reverent respect for
God.  But honestly this has more to do with the
spiritual posture of one’s heart more so than the
physical posture of the body.  Friend, do you revere
God in humble submission, worship, and prayer?
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to
(Rom. 14:11).

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