go to Table of Contents
Chapter 6. Grace and Mercy
Premise: Hebrews 4:16 says we can approach God's throne and receive mercy and find grace. If mercy and grace meant the same thing, God wouldn't have had two words for it in the context of this verse. Therefore mercy and grace refer to two different things. Mercy is not grace and grace is not mercy.
Grace is not unmerited favor, it is merited power. Mercy is unmerited favor.
Grace is how God deals with us when we are able to obey His commands. Mercy is how God must deal with us when we are unable to obey His commands. It’s not that we don’t want to obey His commands, it’s that we can’t always obey. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
For example, we are commanded to take no thought for tomorrow, i.e., don’t worry. When we obey then God is free to flow grace in our life. But when we can’t obey, and everyone has struggled with worry, then God extends mercy to help us get to where we can obey.
A good example is our children. When they obey the rules of the household, what good parent wouldn’t want to extend the resources of the family into their lives? But if they don’t, a good parent can only encourage them to obey, but can’t trust them with resources. And resources equal power, the power to accomplish what the obedient child wants to do.
So grace is merited power because of obedience to God’s commands. Obedience is the key to grace. Obedience puts you in grace’s path. It isn’t earned by works, it is merited by obedience.
Mercy has limited power, if any, as the family example above illustrated. Mercy is what you do to try to steer your kids into grace. Grace’s power is far superior to mercy’s favor.
Grace requires your will to be in agreement with God’s will. Mercy operates in spite of your will. Salvation is a prime example. God’s mercy put Jesus on the cross while we were yet willful sinners. God’s grace saved us when we put our will in obedience to His will. We are saved by grace because we had to be obedient to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It was a definite choice of our will. No one ever got saved by mercy. God’s mercy provided the way to salvation, but we had to obediently walk in that way. Grace kicks in when we take the first step in obedience. Anytime you cry out to God, it releases grace because it involved an act of your will.
A final comment concerning grace: from man’s perspective, grace implies good things happening to us somewhat like Christmas. From God’s perspective, however, grace means “suitable through obedience to have God’s power flow to and through you as He wills.” This is also a pretty good definition for grace.
So when you see the word “grace” in the Bible, especially the New Testament, think “merited power” and “able through obedience to have God’s power flow to and through you as He wills.”
-Hebrews 5:8-9 says Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered and He was then able to save all those who obey Him. In other words, His obedience allowed God’s power to flow through Him.
-I believe it takes rhema words to be obedient in the areas we most struggle in. You must hear rhema words. They are so necessary if you want to have grace for overcoming those areas.
To some, this may seem like I am splitting hairs, but I feel by having a better understanding of grace vs. mercy, we can understand God’s nature better.
go to next article
go to Table of Contents