Salvation: God’s Mercy to the Undeserving

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9:14-16)

As I was reading through a few chapters of Romans, the word ‘mercy’ caught my attention. I am not sure exactly where I stand in terms of the Calvinism vs. Arminianism per se, yet I know I am one of the elects, God’s chosen people. God revealed Himself to me, called me to repent and believe Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and adopted me as His child. I have new life in Christ, yet I know there are many who have not received the gift of new life that can be found in Jesus alone. And the scripture I read tonight reminded me of something that often seems to be forgotten by some who have that life. Through the scripture, God, not for the first time, taught me that I did not earn salvation. When Jesus died on the cross, he did not die for some who deserve that kind of love. Just as no one deserved salvation back then, so does no one deserve it now. When God revealed Himself to me and the way to have reconciliation with Him, it was simply an act of mercy on His part. What did I do to have His mercy on me? NOTHING. What could I have done to have His mercy on me? NOTHING. If I did something to have Him to show me His mercy, that would not have been mercy at all. Mercy is a favor that is given to those who do not deserve that favor.

As Paul the apostle asked, would God be unjust for not showing mercy to some but not to others? I do not think so. A few reasons I can think of this moment are as follows. 1 Doing right does not deserve a “favor” but is simply right, 2 Doing right is good but still does not deserve a reward, 3 Doing wrong is wrong and deserves “just treatment,” aka. punishment. I mentioned earlier, salvation depends on God’s mercy. No one deserves it, but He still freely chooses to save some. If, because of our wickedness, we need lots and lots of God’s work in our lives, let’s call it “tons of mercy,” in order for us to respond properly to His call to salvation, we can say God showed tons of mercy to only some but not to others. However, we can’t still say that He is unjust or bad for not saving the others because they did not deserve His favor from the first place as no one did. He just has been too good to some, including myself.

As I was thinking about this, I was humbled again before Him. It is hard to comprehend the mind of my God. I asked, “Why, God? Why did You choose me to be Yours? Why are You so good to me?” I do not fully understand why I was chosen, but I am chosen by Him. And He has given me one task to do here. To make His name famous. Thank You for giving me life that I do not deserve. Thank You for choosing me, and thank You for sustaining me. Thank You for the mercy…

Father’s Love

Have you ever gotten to the point where you feel like you keep coming to God asking for forgiveness for the same sins? You pray that He would forgive you for doing something, and few days, weeks, or months later you come back and pray again for the same problem. I have. And many times I hesitated before praying. I feel like I shouldn’t ask Him for forgiveness because I am afraid that I would come to Him again for the same exact problem. What should I do? I hated myself because I sinned against Him again. I had asked Him for forgiveness already for the same problem, and I did it again. I feel like I am asking Him for too much. I think I shouldn’t ask Him to forgive me again. What should I do? I felt helpless, ashamed, and miserable. Have you ever felt the same?

Let me share with you the message He gave me today.

 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son, but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.’ For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

This is the kind of love that He did and still does. He gave up His own son when you and I were still sinners, His enemies. We were at a war against Him, the Creator and the Lord. And after redeeming us from that status, adopting us as His children, Jesus Himself intercedes for us. I was afraid of going before Him because of what I had done, but He encouraged me to come before Him with every burden I had. He reminded me that He is God who forgives. He reminded me of His mercy and grace that He has poured upon my life and many others’. Honestly, I do not understand why He loves us that much. Why is He so gracious and merciful towards us? My heart breaks but, at the same time, rejoices. I am deeply grieved that I am so weak that I fall over and over again. I am sorrowful that I am no way close to be where God desires me to be. I am so blessed that He chose me to be His. I am so thankful for who my Father is. I am so overwhelmed by His grace and mercy and love that He has shown me.

Worship Me, but not in their way

Lately God has been teaching me so many things in the ways that I had never thought about. It is amazing whenever I realize how much more room for growth is there in my understanding of my Father’s heart. To name a few, I learned the purpose of the Law in the lives of people who are redeemed, the unceasing love and grace of God for those who trust Him, the mercy of God that stretches even for thousands of generations of the few who trust Him, the unfailing faithfulness of God in keeping His promises even when we are not ready …

And today, I learned that we can not and must not worship Him while doing things that God hates.

You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. (Deut. 12:31 / NIV)

This verse made me think about how I have been worshiping Him, and there I fell on my knees. So many times, I had something other than God in my heart even when I thought I was worshiping Him. I was halfhearted, hypocrite, proud and arrogant. I went before Him while being unforgiving, unloving, and unsatisfied. I presented myself with unrepented sins before God and wondered why I could not enjoy in His presence. I pray that the Spirit would give me a clean heart that would reflect Christ, my Lord and Savior. I pray that God would make me desire His presence and enjoy the fullness of life He gave through His Son Jesus Christ.

When We Encounter God

24 And you said, “The LORD our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a man can live even if God speaks with him. 25 But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer. 26 For what mortal man has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived?” (Deuteronomy 5:24-26 / NIV)

These words of the people of Israel pleased God. The people had the fear of the LORD that God always deserves from his creation. In this passage, Moses was talking about the encounter that he and the people of Israel had at the Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). There the people encountered God so vividly, so closely. The majesty and the glory of God were manifested before them. They heard the voice of the living God. They realized who God is, how great, powerful, majestic, glorious, pure and holy He is. They realized who they were before Him. They were humbled. They were ready to obey. They feared Him. The fear of the LORD came from their recognition of who God is and resulted in reverence, awe, and worship.God was teaching me through this passage that my encounter with Him should bear the same results. My growth in the knowledge of God should humble myself and make myself “quick” in obedience. When I am arrogant and prideful because of what I know about God and his creation, I know that whatever I am learning has become my head-knowledge. I would want to challenge whoever is reading this blog and myself to examine ourselves. Whether our knowledge of God has truly humbled us and caused us to live the righteous life that God calls us to live. Does your life reflect the righteousness of God? He has blessed us so much that He Himself dwells in us. It is not only the voice that we hear, He is living in us. How much should we humble ourselves and worship Him with everything we have? How much should we be willing to obey Him?

No Other Gospel

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:6-9 / NIV)

Knowing the true gospel of Christ is so important. Being able to discern false teachings is so important. It is because there is only one way, Jesus Christ, who redeems and saves. He is the Word who was, in the beginning, with God and who was God (John1:1).

And he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And it is not by good works or any works we do, but “by grace” one receives salvation. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are redeemed. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom.3:22-24). Because of salvation that we have received freely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we do the good works. Because we are redeemed, we want to live the life that is worthy of the gospel. Let’s not forget that what count is not our deeds but Christ’s. Our deeds are the fruits of the gift we received from God in Christ.

Amen!

The Foolishness to the World,

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

18 For the message of cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

            “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

            the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greek look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

There is nothing for us to boast about but the Gospel.

We do not need to add anything of our own because cross itself is the power and the wisdom of God. And our humanly intelligence cannot grasp the depth and the power of the cross, so it tells us that the cross is foolishness. However, that foolishness is of God, which is wiser than our wisdom. Preach the Gospel. We do not need to add anything to it although we might be mistakenly thinking that our words and thoughts would make it sound better. Preach the Gospel. Preach the cross of Christ.

“The cross is not something to which one may add human wisdom and thereby make it superior; rather, the cross stands in absolute, uncompromising contradiction to human wisdom” (Fee, 66).

Who could have thought of God to be crucified? It is God’s scheme. God’s promise for the redemption of His people had been foretold over and over again throughout the Old Testament. Yet, crucifixion of Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Redeemer, had never come across the minds of the people who heard the message. Why? Because it is, according to Fee’s terms, “too preposterous” and “too humiliating” (Fee, 68).

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Rom. 1:21-23).

This is the result of human wisdom. All we can do on our own, at the best, is to create something like us and label it ‘God’ and worship our creation. As Paul wrote in verse 21 of 1 Corinthians 1, we did not come to know God. Through the foolishness of what was preached, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, God revealed Himself so vividly to redeem the ones who believe. Things from our own do not help us know God. Only God shows Himself to us so that we may know Him. Then, why do we even try to add our own voice and lowly wisdom to what is so powerful as it is? Why do we try to empty the power of cross?

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians1:17).

Cross was the way of God. Cross was the way no one had expected. God works in the ways that often seem “foolish” to us.  Paul in v.22-23 says, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greek look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified

Fee informs us, “Messiah meant power, splendor, triumph; crucifixion meant weakness, humiliation, defeat. Little wonder that both Jew and Greek were scandalized by the Christian message” (Fee, 75). The Jews could not be angrier than they were about such a blasphemous message. For Greek, the message could not be crazier than it is. But that was the way of God by which He gives salvation to all who believe. For those who are called, the crucifixion of Christ is the power and the wisdom that is the greatest of all.

Sometimes, I find myself being frightened by the demands of the world. I become anxious, thinking ‘what if I do not know the answers?’ or ‘what if I cannot show them what they are looking for?’ But there is no need for me to worry. What the world really needs is not my wisdom and knowledge, but Christ crucified. Christ resurrected. Christ the living. This is a simple truth that I have known since I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, yet I often forget. This is not to say that I want to be lazy about learning and growing in my knowledge. I should not be lazy. But through this passage, God is reminding me that what I need to take with me when I go out to the world is the Gospel, the living power and wisdom of the one true living God.

 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans1:16).

Source Used.

Fee, Gordon D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. In The New International Commentary on the New Testament.Grand Rapids,MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987.

Come Praise and Glorify

I heard and sang this song for the first time yesterday in chapel. And it is just so good that I wanted to share with everybody.