This past Wednesday in our continuing study of the attributes of God, we considered the mercy of God. This distinct attribute God manifests as He continues to reveal Himself to man throughout the scriptures:
“And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” Exodus 34:6
“The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” Psalm 103:8
Wayne Grudem gives the distinction between God’s mercy and grace:
God’s grace means God’s goodness toward those who deserve only punishment.
God’s mercy means God’s goodness toward those in misery and distress.
There are many times where grace and mercy will be mentioned together in the scriptures, but they are distinctive words in describing what God is doing. The Lord proclaims,
“I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19
God chooses to manifest His mercy by His own initiative and all of us, Christian or non-Christian can experience it in several ways. A. W. Pink describes a threefold distinction of God’s mercy:
“First, there is a general mercy of God, which is extended not only to all men, believers and unbelievers alike, but also to the entire creation: “His tender mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:9): “He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). God has upon the brute creation in their needs, and supplies them with suitable provision.”
“Second, there is a special mercy of God, which is exercised toward the children of men, helping and succouring them, notwithstanding their sins. To them also He communicates all the necessities of life: “for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45).
“Third, there is a sovereign mercy which is reserved for the heirs of salvation, which is communicated to them in a covenant way, through the Mediator.” -Pink, Attributes of God
The general and special mercies shown toward those who continue to reject Christ and His sacrifice for their sins are temporary. Yet, those who trust in Christ experience sovereign mercy and the promises of the New Covenant, which are eternal.
“not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5
All that we receive for salvation is “according to His mercy” which Christ accomplished on the cross for own sins. It is all flows from the attribute of His mercy.