Pastor Steve’s Full Blog Posts
• Judgment is immediate.
It demands the quick decision and the sentence is as swift and demanding as a guillotine.
• Mercy is slow.
Mercy takes its time, deliberating, mulling over options. Mercy is often second-guessing itself, repenting of former decisions as repentance is made known.
• Cheap Grace is careless.
It cares not what the issues are, and is as swift in its decision of forgiveness as judgment is of condemnation.
• Judgment is simple.
Black and white, clear cut, no recourse, no compromise. Judgment sees all situations from a demanding, no fills position.
• Mercy seeks truth—no matter how messy.
It deliberates, considers, ponders, discusses—but not without a goal. Mercy plods, the tortoise who wins the race, slow and steady. Mercy understands that truth cannot be found in a headline, but in a feature article based on many interviews.
• Cheap Grace triumphs the ignorant.
There is no need for determinations, deliberations or decisions. The decision has already been made—freedom and blessing for all, no matter what the situation.
• Judgment focuses on the law as a principle.
“The law is a standard which once broken cannot be mended. It is the Humpty Dumpty of God. It is an ancient china doll, needing to be placed behind glass—protected, served, and loved from a distance.” But the law of judgment is cold, hard and sharp as a steel blade. Judgment claims to be for the good of society, but the only one who benefits is Judgment itself.
• Mercy loves the law as a benefit to others.
The law is to “love your neighbor,” thus mercy is the heart of the law. The law is to train us in mercy, to see the Other as the beneficiary of all of our actions. Mercy considers the well-being of all—even the law-breaker. Mercy’s law is comforting, light, for it always seeks the benefit of all.
• Cheap Grace discards the law.
“The law was a plaything of youth, but is to be set aside as unworthy of consideration. Grace has set aside all law, especially the law of Jesus, as unworthy of God.” Cheap Grace claims to speak for Mercy, but denies the heart of God.
• Judgment demands recompense.
Judgment seeks equity to the cost of the action of the law-breaker. “You broke it, you pay for it.” It seeks a balanced account book for which each debit has its equal and opposite credit—the coin of which is blood and dishonor.
• Mercy pursues reconciliation.
Mercy can lead to dishonor, should repentance be the flip side of that coin. Mercy pleads for restoration, constantly seeking an ingathering together for all the saints.
• Cheap Grace rejects cost.
Cheap Grace points to Calvary and claims that all had been accomplished there. Cheap Grace ignores the man who said, “All who would follow me must take up their own cross daily.” Cheap Grace demands no personal cost, no change, no death, no discipline, and so gains no gift, no new creation, no life, no restoration.
• Judgment has no escape.
Once judged, there is no exit. The sentence is irrevocable, the differences irreconcilable, the community ununitable.
• Mercy offers an out—repentance.
The one who has harmed another—and so has defied the law—has an opportunity to be brought back under the law. To repent, to reconcile is the extent that Mercy demands, and will seek any way to achieve that goal.
• Cheap Grace is unconditional forgiveness.
It is spiritual bloodletting—seeking to heal the patient, while ignorantly killing him. Cheap Grace sees no need to gather in, to restore, for there was no separation.
• Judgment demands payment from the lawbreaker.
As the law suffered, so must the criminal. As society was harmed, so must the harmer. Judgment claims the lost deserve nothing, and so gives nothing.
• Mercy sacrifices.
Restoration also has a price, and the merciful takes that price on oneself. Mercy pays whatever the cost so the sinner can be restored. Mercy groans in prayer, endures attacks, forgives debts against it, pays debts against others, sacrifices its comfort, its family, its friendships, its resources, its very life—all for the sake of the lost.
• Cheap Grace gleefully ignores cost.
It is the thief, stealing from God’s honor. Cheap Grace receives no payment, demands nothing, gives nothing, since there is no debt incurred. Cheap Grace celebrates at the foot of grace delivered, but ignores the call of grace transferred to others. Cheap Grace requires nothing and so gains nothing.
• Judgment never forgets.
It is the elephant of virtues. It never trusts, never believes, never forgives, never restores. Judgment says “Once a sinner, always a sinner.”
• Mercy gives the benefit of the doubt.
Mercy does not forget, but allows complete restoration, a rebuilding of trust. Mercy believes in new creation, a new life, which has nothing to do with the old.
• Cheap Grace always trusts, even the hypocrite.
It always believes, even the liar. It always forgives, even the unrepentant. It accepts everyone and everything—except God’s truth.
• Judgment is Satan.
Judgment is the accuser of the brethren, the murderer of humanity for the sake of a bloodless law. It is the prosecutor seeking the death penalty.
• Mercy is Jesus.
It is the self-sacrificer, the reconciler to God, the perfect sacrifice. Mercy is the one who said, “Go and sin no more,” “The one whom the Son sets free is free indeed,” “I have come to seek and save the lost,” “Unless you repent you will likewise perish,” “I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance,” “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.”
• Cheap Grace is the Flesh.
It is self-seeking, self-upholding, self-deceptive. Ultimately, it upholds what is abhorrent to God as the will of God. They practice sin and gives approval to those who practice it.
• Judgment is a liar.
It claims that God does not forgive, sees the sin and not the sinner. It denies the power of God to change the one in Jesus. It is lost, for it has forsaken the mercy of Jesus. Those in the power of Judgment will die by God’s hand—“Judge and you will be judged.”
• Cheap Grace is a liar.
It claims that God’s standard is flexible, and so non-existent. It loves the lost to such a degree that it cannot be separated from the lost. It causes the lost to remain lost, and so dead. Those in the power of Cheap Grace will die by God’s hand—“Whoever does not obey the Son will not see life.”
• Mercy is the truth of God.
It upholds the law, which is to love all. It demands love, even as it offers love. It demands forgiveness, even as it offers forgiveness. It demands sacrifice, even as it sacrifices. It demands purity, even as it offers purity. It demands devotion to God, even as it offers devotion to God. “Be imitators of God, and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”
Having broken the greatest of all
Having destroyed all sense of decency
Having ruined all that is good.
Karma tells us:
“He deserves nothing good!
He was born in sin,
No good dwells in him
Surrender him to the judgment of God
Get him out of our sight!”
Grace tells us:
“We are no more deserving than he
To grant mercy is to be like God
Forgiveness allows us to be forgiven
Welcome, feed and encourage.”
We receive what we give
- Omnipotent: God is all powerful
- Omnipresent: God is in all places
- Omniscient: God knows all things
- Eternal: God is timeless
Biblically, I have questions about all of these statements. But the fact is, biblically, to say that the nature of God is his being or essence is to miss the point. That is a metaphysical answer to the question, not a biblical one.
There is one statement about the nature of God that is repeated many times in Scripture, and yet it is rarely quoted, or certainly not quoted as often as the omnis. The best answer to “what is the nature of God?” is:
“Yahweh, Yahweh God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in merciful faithfulness and truth, who keeps merciful faithfulness for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, yet he will not leave the guilty unpunished.” Exodus 34:6-7
This statement, in whole or part, is repeated at least 12 times in the OT alone*. It is the basic creed of who God is, and is the basis for the statement “God is love” and is the basis for the NT statements which say that we, as God’s children, should imitate God (Luke 6:35-36; Eph 5:1).
Thus, we should focus on God being:
Compassionate: One who understands and desires to help the weak.
Gracious: One who gives of Himself to those in need
Slow to anger: Doesn’t instantly respond to offenses, but takes time to consider a proper response
Abounding in merciful faithfulness: When he keeps his promises, he does it for the benefit of those he is blessing
Abounding in truth: Doesn’t lie, doesn’t break his promises
Forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin: Is ready to cleanse the heart, mind and any debt incurred from any sin, real, ritual or imagined.
Will not leave the guilty unpunished: Forgiveness is for the repentant, not for those who continue to purposely hurt others.
This is the true nature of God, and the basis of all biblical truth.
*Passages that are a reference to Exodus 34:
II Chronicles 30:9; Nehemiah 9:17, 31; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 111:4; Psalm 112:4; Psalm 116:5; Psalm 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3
God has made every one of us with two distinct moralities, battling like two dogs after the same bone.
The morality of Karma sees every person as unequal. Some deserve more reward, some deserve more punishment, but all deserve uniquely. It is the task of Karma to protect, to preserve, to provide equality.
The morality of Grace sees every person as the same. All have the same requirements to survive, to thrive, and grace gives. Grace sees lack and responds with compassion and then action. Grace is charity unhindered. It is the task of Grace to nourish, to empower, to provide opportunity.
Karma and Grace are in all of us. We all want to punish those whom we see are the worst offenders in our world. We all want to assist those who we see are most in need in our world. We all judge, we all empathize.
All moral arguments are based on who or what deserves which treatment.
O God, I am parched.I am barely able to move, my need is so deep. Yes, I move in the world, I eat, I drink, I converse. But my body is hollow; my soul is mourning its loss. My God, why have you forsaken us? I already know there is no hope on earth for us.Why are the needy forsaken? Why do children pick through garbage for food? Why do the simple have no one to support them? Babies hanging on empty breasts; wraith souls brutally violated; men wandering: hearthless, hopeless, frenzied, friendless. They cry to you, and pour their hearts to you and they are silenced by death, even while living. Why are the weak only granted more weakness? Why are the mourning gifted ever more sorrow?And the powerful obtain more power. “Look at my sorrow, observe my need,” say those who horde the resources of this world as a toddler who insists that the whole of the world is his own plaything. They offer a drop of water to the desperate and keep an ocean to themselves, never declaring “enough.” Why do the sightless insist that compassion is fruitless? Why do the powerful harden their hearts to the helpless?My God, how do you remain silent? How does heaven remain barred, allowing the foolishly satisfied to claim that all is right in the world? I am starving from your silence. The god-speakers (but not do-gooders) insist that there is peace, peace, yet they do not step outside of their golden palaces long enough to see the sickness, poverty and death. How long will you allow them to speak of your kingdom already come when destruction, despair and disdain reign? How long will you allow them to speak of the miracle of democracy and capitalism, when billions of souls are the cost upon which the society is built? How dare you remain silent! Damn their blasphemies! Entwine their pseudo-god-speak with a millstone and cast them into the deepest lake of fire!How dare you? How dare you allow these dealers of synthetic theology speak while you remain silent? How dare you allow generation after generation fall while the fat and sassy build themselves up, using your name so casually, so faithlessly? Have you no pride?But I… my feet come close to stumbling. How easy it is to see a world entombed, and to fail to see the coming consummation. Yours is the power. Yours is the glory. Yours is the kingdom. If only I could enter into your patience. It is so hard to welcome long suffering when children shiver in the cold and are beaten into becoming the next generation of evil-doers. It is difficult to wait.I know, Lord. I know you have given me everything good. I know that your heart is with the needy. You understand that when your sorrows overwhelm you it is hard to be grateful. You have experienced all of our temptations. I am not thankless, my Father. But we are in need of restoration and resurrection. No economic system, no governmental ideal will grant it to us. Only your love.
We are so parched, my Lord. Satisfy us with your love. Let mercy flood this world, until we drown in it. Allow your compassion to cover our heads, until we cease struggling in its watery depths. Let us finally rest.
Based on Psalm 73, originally published on Mustard Seed Associates website: http://godspace.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/a-lenten-reflection-by-steve-kimes/