Resting in the Comfort of His Mercy
Resting in the comfort of His mercy has a solid foundation in Hebrews 4:14-16, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Here are truths which show us the character of God being revealed to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is able to perfectly know mankind and perfectly reveal to us His Father’s mercy which enables us to rest in the mercy of God.
Genuine faith in God’s mercy is established and fed by knowing key words found in the writer of the Book of Hebrews which lays down the truth – Jesus is the final High Priest who stands before the Throne of God, interceding for us. (Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 7:25) There are three key words which need to be understood, which can help us rest on God’s mercy.
- Confession (ὁμολογία homología) means to agree with, have an allegiance to, and acknowledge Christ as the final High Priest. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” The confession which enables us to rest in God’s mercy comes from Holy Spirit illumination of the truths of the written Word of God. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.; Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 417). New York:; Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)
- The beloved John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” After agreeing with God on what sin is, through repentance, receiving Christ as Savior and Lord we have forgiveness and a purifying from the bondage of sin which held us captive. The drunkard no longer bound to drink, the sexually immoral no longer living a life of sexual impurity. The adulterer no longer bound by their life of adultery. All the acts of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:19) is broken and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) is now able be manifested in the life of a Christian.
The truth is new life in Christ, the old sinful nature is gone and the new nature under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit takes control. (2 Corinthians 5:17) There is now hope, faith and genuine love.
- Sympathize (συμπαθέω sumpathéō) meaning to be compassionate. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Jesus is able to share our feelings in the sense He completely understands and feels in His heart the anguish of temptations, afflictions and trials. (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 293). New York: United Bible Societies.) Hebrews 2:17-18 says, “For this reason He [Jesus] had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” Jesus sympathizing is beyond, I feel bad for someone, but rather it moves Him to want to help, empower and comfort our souls.
- If we see a person who is overcome with a sin we have a tendency to feel bad for them, hoping they can find some help. Some feel, well you are getting what you deserve. The sympathy from the Lord goes beyond feeling bad to actually supernaturally helping the person overcome. There are many testimonies of people you have enjoyed the Lords forgiveness and empowerment to be overcomers. Beating alcoholism, no longer being a thief or a liar. There are people who were once untrusted employees, now being loyal, productive people.
- Confidence (παρρησία parrēsía) meaning to be bold in asking the Lord for help, knowing He will intercede. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Hebrews 10:35 says, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
- When people are confident God forgives the repentant, enables the humble and empowers the faithful, doors of opportunity opened so they may know they are in the will of God.
The Apostle Peter boldly proclaimed his loyalty to the Lord, (Matthew 26:33) yet before the rooster crowed, Peter denied the Lord 3 times. (Matthew 26:69-79) In John 21 we read of Jesus reinstating Peter back into the work of the Lord. He became a great Apostle used of God powerfully. God’s mercy and grace is again enjoyed by Saul, who was the persecutor of the early church of Christ. After becoming a loyal disciple of Christ, Saul’s name was changed to the Apostle Paul, used of God as a great preacher, teacher and apostle. (1Timothy 2:7) In Scripture, there are many who have been sinners saved by grace and then used of God.
There are those in modern times, people loving and living in their sin who God expressed His grace and mercy upon. There is the story of the great Hymn, “Amazing Grace.” It was written by John Newton, however, what you may not know – he was more than a slave trader. His willful disregard for all that is right and holy led him into a life plagued with despair, dangers at sea, abuse, public floggings, destitution, depression, near drownings and miraculous escapes. Although many of these life conflicts opened his eyes a little – he would return to his life controlled by sin.
There was one storm so violent – John chose to get right with God. Two years after his conversion, God made the way for John to marry his high school sweet-heart. He spent fourteen years studying for the ministry. He later became a pastor publishing a Hymnal which held 281 of his own work.
Another man who learned to rest on God’s grace and mercy is comedian Jeff Alan. While his life was being destroyed by alcohol and drugs, he tried a 12 step program. It was not until he was filing for bankruptcy, nearly losing his career, wife and family he opened himself to God’s grace and mercy through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
Jeff, a man who was a bitter and spiteful, is now a joyful man who loves his wife, people and serving the Lord. He shares the Lord’s message through humor all over the world with most of his speaking engagements being sold out. He is a man who can share the truth about God’s grace, mercy and ever-present help in time of great need.
The message for the servants of the Lord to get outside the church walls is God’s mercy is available through repentance looking to Jesus Christ as Lord. There is a sure hope of God’s mercy, through Christ.
Grasping God’s New Year’s Revelation
The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Another translation says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint but blessed is he who keeps the law.” This translation tells us, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:18)
Make time to seek out the truths to two words: 1.) “Prophetic Vision” (חָזוֹן ḥāzôn) means “divine communication from God to His people, which are to be communicated to others and if disregarded leads to certain doom.” (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 325). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers; Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.; Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (p. 269). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.) 2.) “Law (תּוֹרָה tôrāh),” in Proverbs 29:18 is a noun meaning instructions from God regarding the general way of living which pleases Him. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 1220). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.; Holladay, W. L., & Köhler, L. (2000). A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament (p. 388). Leiden: Brill.)
God’s revelation for us all year is to carefully digest well-spoken or well-written slogans for inspiration because they may only intrigue the human flesh, are birthed from the world view which could be a lie from the devil. The best resolution is to be able to say, “…we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) This is accomplished by praying, “What do you desire of me this year Lord?”
His New Year Revelation for You this Year Is
1.) “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8) This is not a light New Year’s resolutions made with a half-hearted approach, it is a command. Repentance is a changed life turning from that which is sinful to all that is pleasing to the Lord. Repentance is not feeling sorry for something you have done. God’s revelation is, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:7) Repentance is ceasing to commit the same sins and seeking the power of God to overcome the sins which hold you in bondage.
2.) Mature in your walk with the Lord. The Bible says you are to be, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3) The author of the Book of Hebrews tells us, “..solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14) Christians who feed upon the Word of God are skilled in living for the Lord in ways that cause others to consider their relationship with Jesus Christ. Prayerfully consider studying God’s Word seriously for your New Year’s resolution.
3.) Spiritually feed on the Word of God. Jesus said, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) People can become so focused on meeting physical needs they forget there is food for the soul which needs to be fed as well. This passage of Scripture reveals the truth, God’s Word of promise, protection and direction is for every part of our lives. Every key need in life has truths which can be discovered in God’s Word, but it must be sought out like our need for physical food. Like our body’s nourishment is met by preparing food to eat, our souls are only fed when we prepare to read, study and allow the Holy Spirit to give us revelation of God’s truths. For the best result of physical nourishment, we should eat several times daily, we need to make time to fill our minds the Word of God daily, meditate on it throughout the day and ask Him to enable us to live out what has been revealed to us. When Jesus was dealing with Satan’s attacks, He did not use miraculous powers to reject Satan’s lures. He used the same resource which is available to us every day, the written Word of God.
Praying the Lord, through His Word and revelation through the Holy Spirit will make your vision clear this year as you seek Him with all “your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Will you make it your resolution to seek God’s truths to live by this year? Will you diligently search the Word of God for a heart check?
Who Do You Partner With
The word of God holds a simple truth in the midst of Scripture which can protect us from life’s trap and snares. It seems like as long as the internet is the key tool used to communicate and there is world-wide awareness of tragic events, there will be that continued threat of ministries and outreaches taking advantage of people who have generous hearts. The King James Bible holds a simple truth which is a solid guide to follow, “know those who labor among you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) To “know” (aida) generally means to know instinctively, to have intimate or close relationship with or have knowledge of the work someone is doing for the Lord. (The Complete Word Study of the New Testament; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament)
This brief passage of Scripture is in the midst of several brief exhortations. Each one is quite capable of standing on its own, just like many of the Apostle Paul’s instructions and benedictions of which holds truths for all who read them. (Martin, D. M. (1995). 1, 2 Thessalonians (Vol. 33, p. 170). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) Although the context deals with how people are to respect and esteem those who are over them “in the Lord,” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) the King James Bible uses, “to know” (aida) is a key truth to focus on.
If you look at this passage of Scripture in the other translations, it could appear we are simply to show respect and esteem “those who work hard, care for us in the Lord and admonish us” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) just because someone holds a position in the church structure. Not knowing the application of this one key truth which is wonderfully interpreted by the King James Bible, “to know” (aida) has opened the door to people holding religious position who are not appointed by the Lord nor do they have the Holy Spirit’s anointing. Thus, people have been sexually assaulted, the spiritually blind lead the blind and the innocent have been scammed out of their hard-earned money.
All mature outreaches which deserve your prayers, participation and financial support will be upfront with their vision, their call and be fully accountable. We see this truth in the Biblical account of Peter’s work with the Lord.
The Biblical accounts of the Apostle Peter’s outreach lays out the foundational truths to “[knowing]” those who labor among us. The Bible says, “The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the Word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him… Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened… When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God.” (Acts 11:1-4, 18)
A successful outreach of any kind begins with a desire to be a “devout” person, one who wants to please God. (Acts 10:1-2) A “devout” (eusebes) person is respectful to God and the things regarding to worship and honoring Him. (Complete Word Study of the Bible; Vines Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words; Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament) A successful outreach that meets the needs of others and brings praise to the Lord must be birthed from a heart that is “God-fearing” (phobeo) meaning to have a reverential obedience toward God. (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon)
In determining what work for the Lord, you participate in begins with determining if the outreach is center around pleasing God and pointing the people you help to the Lord’s blessing and intervening for them. This is the foundation for receiving revelation from God. Cornelius and the Apostle Peter were God-fearing and devout servants of the Lord, thus God gave them the same revelation. (Acts 10:1-22)
Ministries or outreaches must be clear in their vision, and they must be able to substantiate their work. (Acts 10:23-48) A ministry worth your participation and financial support must have witnesses who are known to be able to give a trustworthy account. (Act 10:45; 11:12) The Bible says, “…these six brothers were with me.” (Acts 11:12) These brothers were Christians who were able to determine what a real work of God was. It should be noted that Peter took double the number of witness needed to substantiate a testimony. (1 Timothy 5:19) No doubt Peter expected trouble and criticism – he wisely and correctly did what it took to get people to accept, understand and prove his work was genuine.
When you are considering participating in a work which helps those who have needs, consider learning from a quality ministry which can walk you through the process of determining a genuine work. Make sure you partner with ministries or outreaches which look for overseers who will hold them accountable as Peter was in his work with the Lord.
Overcoming the Intimidation to Be Silenced
There are many passages of Scripture people use to stop all discussion on truth and morality. The one at the top of the list are the very words of Jesus Christ, “Do not Judge” (Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37) which is only a portion of what He said and used out of context for of what He is teaching. Most of the time, those referring to this passage have not, “[done] their best to present [themselves] to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
The full text says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. He also told them this parable: Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:37-42; Matthew 7:1-5)
Grasping the whole truth of God’s Word we understand all people are sinners, no one is worthy to condemn another along with the enlightenment, the degree we judge others is the degree other people and God will judge us. For Christians, it is a reminder to ask God to look into their hearts, they know the teaching of Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) Humble Christians are in continued prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting! (Psalm 139:23)
Jesus also said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24) The Greek for this passage of Scripture is imperative, “μὴ κρίνετε κατ’ ὄψιν, ἀλλὰ τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν κρίνετε which is, ‘do not judge according to appearance, but pronounce a righteous judgment’ or ‘… deliver a righteous judgment.’ It may also be possible to translate ἀλλὰ τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν κρίνετε as ‘judge in a righteous manner’ or ‘judge according to true standards.’” (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 363). New York: United Bible Societies.) The King James Bible says, “judge righteous judgements” (τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν) meaning “to make right judgements appropriate to the case in hand.” (Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 160). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.)
1.) Christians do not declare judgement on lifestyles or teachings which intrigue others to sin. They are in agreement with God’s Word. Jesus said, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:1-4) He also said, “…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
2.) Christians do not make decisions on what sin is, they are in agreement with what the Bible says is sin. The writer of the New Testament teaches us, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) Paul’s warning to the Corinthian Church, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
3.) Christians do not declare what marriage is, they simply marry in accordance with the whole counsel of God’s Word. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife…” (Genesis 2:24) The Hebrew word for “wife” (אִשָּׁה ʾiššāh) “is a feminine noun meaning woman, wife or female.” (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 104). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers)
Jesus taught about marriage, “Have you not read that He [God] who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife’” (Matthew 19:4-5; Mark 10:6-7) The Greek word Jesus used, “male” (ἄρσην ársēn) has a Greek synonym (anḗr) meaning “male, husband.” The Greek word Jesus used, “female” (θήλυς thḗlus) has a Greek synonym (gunḗ) meaning female, wife.” The Greek word Jesus used for “wife” (γυνή gunḗ) means “woman, wife.” (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.)
The three applications we have just looked at are just a few of the truths God’s word holds which keeps from condemning people and make wrong judgements about life and morals. Anyone who really cares about how people are being judged will do the hard work to make sure they are in agreement with God’s Word. Paul writes, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)
Let the Holy Spirit of Christ examine your heart, where are you on the platform, judging? Does is it fit in line with the whole counsel of the written of God?
The Necessity of pointing to God’s Word
There has been a trend in the past few years of very good speakers using their talent of communicating to win a crowd, rather than be obedient to God’s Word. They are failing to preach in a way which challenges hearers to make a decision to agree or disagree with God. Too often their messages are of eloquent (σοφία sophía) speeches intriguing the human flesh, based off worldly wisdom of mankind, full of philosophy and rhetoric. This is in contrast to the work of the great Apostle Paul who wrote, “…preach the gospel – not with words of eloquent wisdom…” (1 Corinthians 1:17) and, “My message to you was not with wise and pervasive words.” (1 Corinthians 2:4) Today, proclaimers of God’s Word must make it clear, their listeners are hearing thus says the Lord on the issues people face today.
Biblical truth challenges hearers to make a clear choice to live for the Lord and be guided by God’s Word. Anyone who would counsel a friend, instruct the misguided or correct falsehood without pointing clearly and directly to the whole council of the written Word, the Bible, is committing a terrible injustice.
There is a phrase in the New Testament, “it is written” (γέγραπται) referring to the Old and New Testament, with reference to the authoritative writings of the Holy Scriptures. (Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1986). A General Introduction to the Bible (Rev. and expanded., p. 79). Chicago: Moody Press.) It means it has been written, and stands written. (Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 1, p. 28). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.)
The most revealing phrases of Jesus after His entrance in ministry were, “It is written.” (Matthew 4:4) “It is also written” (Matthew 4:7) and, “for it is written.” (Matthew 4:10) His first proclamation to Satan, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3. In His second refute to Satan’s temptations, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:6. On His third rebuke to Satan, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13.
Ninety-two times in the New Testament are expressions of authoritative Scriptures such as: “How is it written of the Son of Man [Jesus]?” (Mark 9:12), “as it was written of Him [Jesus]. (Mark 14:21) “All things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.” (Luke 18:31; Luke 24:44) And Jesus spoke the prophetic truth about Jerusalem which was fulfilled, “For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” (Luke 21:22)
In His dealing with the Pharisees the Lord spoke, “Haven’t you read?” (Matthew 19:4) and “Have you never read in the Scriptures?” (Matthew 21:42) Jesus knew His charge to preach the Word and so did the Apostle Paul, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:4) In Romans chapter one we read, “I am obligated both to the Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. …I am so eager to preach… just as it is written…” (Romans 1:14-17) The charge “to preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) is just as imperative today.
The great evangelist Billy Graham had often been heard saying, “The Bible says.” Obedient servants of the Lord get the Word of God out addressing the issues of the day. Speaking with eloquent words touches the emotions, the Word of God “is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Be careful to teach in a way which proclaims “It is Written!”