"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—" (Ephesians 2:4-5, ESV)
Mercy and grace. Two of the greatest hallmarks of the Christian faith. Two of the greatest attributes of God almighty. Mercy and grace are both brought up in these verses, and for good measure for they are foundational for the justification of all people. They are precisely what is required if any person is to be remade, reborn, resurrected as a new creation by God.
Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.
I hope I always remember the story from one particular student pastor who arrived home from work to learn his child had been dreadfully disobedient during the day. The dad looked in disbelief at the child and told them to go to their room and wait for his arrival so the father could decide the level of consequence that would be issued to the child. The child, knowing severe consequences were deserved, walked quietly and reluctantly to the room. Once the father entered, he explained to the child why disobeying was wrong and why that sort of behavior would not be taken lightly. Then the father took off his belt in “old school” fashion. But rather than issue corporal punishment to his child, the father did something very unexpected. He took his own belt and used it to slap his own thigh forcibly in front of the young one. He did this a few times before explaining, “You are the one who deserves this punishment, but in mercy I am withholding it from you. You are the one who did the wrong, but this time I will not give you what you have brought upon yourself.”
In our day of positive parenting and uplifting disciplinary methods this may seem a barbaric display of how to deal with misbehavior. Still, it serves as an accurate demonstration of what mercy looks like. God has every right to issue severe punishment on all due to the inherent sin within every person. Romans 3:23 explains that all people have rebelled against God. We deserve the worst. We have sin within us and commit sin regularly. BUT GOD (two of the most powerful words we can read). But God, being rich in mercy, withholds the worst from His people. Then God goes further than mercy; God extends grace.
Grace can be defined as receiving something not deserved.
When we rightly understand the extent of our sinfulness and begin to comprehend the weight of God’s holiness, then we see there is no way we could ever deserve to be redeemed. There is no way we could ever deserve to be made alive in Christ. This is the grace of God. It is a full-on act of grace of God that anyone is ever justified, that is saved, unto Him.
Mercy and grace. These are essential trademarks for the true biblical Gospel for without them we have no hope. Praise God, He offers mercy and grace to those who repent, confess, believe, and love Him. By mercy and grace we are saved unto a glorious existence with God forever.