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…

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?

I am weak but God isn’t!

Today I was reminded of something that I pray that I would not forget. Here is the story.

When God moves your heart, when you hear that voice, don’t hesitate but just do it.

I went outside for an unusual reason. Normally I am very lazy about getting gas for my car, cooking lunch when I’m planning to eat alone, and doing laundry. But for some reason, I decided to do all three of those as soon as I got ready for today.

So I put my rice in the rice cooker and went outside to get some gas for my car and planned to get some coins from a grocery store. But on my way out of campus, I saw this lady .. who often calls me to ask for help.

I passed by her … And as I was putting some gas in my car, God started moving my heart. It seemed that He wanted me to help her today. Do you know what my initial response to Him was? “…I gotta study today.. I already started my day too late.. I got things I need to get done”

Yeah…right…
My mind was busy trying to come up with some excuses to avoid “helping” someone who needs it. A few seconds later, I was thinking “may be she doesn’t really need help.. May be she is waiting for someone.” I was just going to move on, but God reminded me of my own words that I had spoken a few weeks ago.

“I wish I would love other people without favoritism” What I meant by that was this. I want to love other people than whom I love already.

So, still reluctantly, I called the lady and asked if she needed help. And she did need help. That help was a very small thing.. It didn’t take much effort but just a little bit of time God freely granted me with….and guess what? The lady praised God for the little help I offered. That little obedience on my part turned out to be a great answer of her prayer.

This taught me a lot.
How weak and selfish I am.
How good God is that He answered her prayer while teaching me a great lesson. He is so loving and gracious!

I pray that I would not forget what God taught me today. I pray that I would be willing to help anyone who needs it. And I pray that God would fill my heart with the love of Christ so much that I cannot help but to share with the world He loves. And.. Help me be obedient, LORD!

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.