“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Mercy Triumphs!, by Randall D. Kittle


Have you ever noticed that God seldom seems to be in a hurry? Yes, He created the universe in only six days. But who knows, for Him that might have been really biding His time. After all, He is the infinite, all-powerful God. Still, generally, and especially when we feel like we must have something immediately (if not sooner), He takes what seems to be way too long to do what we know He could do in an instant. While it is true that He is never late, He also is seldom early from our perspective. We often find ourselves grinding our teeth wondering exactly where is our Deliverer, and when will our breakthrough come.

There is, however, one time when the infinitely patient God, who seems never to be in a hurry, acts quickly — when He is quick to bring mercy! God “is slow to anger” (see Nahum 1:3), but when mercy comes to us it comes at supersonic speed. When wrath goes forth from the throne-room of God, it plods along on tardy footsteps, for God takes no pleasure in the sinner’s death. But when God sends messages of mercy, His heralds sprint with record-breaking speed. God’s rod of mercy is always in His hands outstretched, while His sword of justice is in its sheath, held in place by His merciful heart and the finished work of the Cross.

Mercy Runs After & Before Us
Probably no biblical story more fully depicts God’s heart to quickly show mercy than the story of the prodigal son found in Luke 15. In this parable, the father in the story represents our heavenly Father. The father’s younger son disrespected, dishonored, and disgraced his father in every way imaginable. He disrespected his father by demanding his inheritance before either his father was deceased or he himself was married. Then he dishonored his family’s good name by living in the most riotous and ruinous manner — desecrating every virtue and value he had been instructed in. And finally, he disgraced his family by working in a vile place that violated his family’s religion, defiling himself on an ongoing basis. So what was the father’s response when this rebellious son finally turned back and headed home? “But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20–21). Mercy could not wait, but ran to the son to stretch forth forgiveness and extend restoration. It is the same for us today. Father God is waiting and watching, looking and longing for us to turn our heart toward Him so He can quickly bring His mercy into our lives!

The mercy of God not only runs to us. It runs ahead of us. Jesus Christ, our great Mediator, continually intercedes for us — shielding us from unseen dangers. Notice the word of comfort Jesus spoke to Peter at the last supper in Luke 22,
“Simon, Simon! Satan has asked to have you that he may sift you as wheat; but …” — what? “But go and pray for yourself.” That would have been good advice, but it is not how the Lord responded. Neither did He say, “But I have desired to pray for you,” or even “But I will pray for you.” No, it was, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail.” “I have done it already. I have gone to the court of Heaven and entered your defense even before the accusation was made.” Before Satan had even begun to tempt Peter, Jesus anticipated him and entered a plea in heaven on Peter’s behalf.

The mercy of God outruns the malice of the enemy. He checks Satan even in his very desire, and nips it in the bud. What a comfort to know that Jesus has already pleaded our cause against our unseen enemies, countered their attacks, and unmasked their ambushes.

Little do we realize the debt we owe to our Savior’s intervening prayers. At the end of the age when we look back over the journey of our lives, we will see how many times God’s mercy ran before us, and we will fall on our knees and praise Him. How we will thank the Lord because He has vigilantly gone before us and paved the way with mercy!

The mercy of God is running toward us, going ahead of us, and even chasing after us. The Bible tells us that the blessings of God will overtake and come upon those who obey the voice of the Lord (see Deuteronomy 28:2), and no blessing from God is greater than His mercy! Beloved, God’s magnificent mercy is before you and behind you. God has you surrounded by His mercy!

Triumphant Mercy
The mercy of God, which surrounds us, is a triumphant mercy. James 2:13 declares that “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” The word translated “judgment” in this verse is the Greek word “krisis,” which literally means “decision.” It especially involves the decision of an umpire, or a judicial decision or verdict given. So, judgment here means the guilty verdict we face for our sins and the declared sentence that comes with it.

This verse says that mercy “triumphs” over the guilty sentence that stands against us. Mercy doesn’t just overturn the verdict that stands against you. It boasts against or rejoices over your guilty sentence, declaring how fully and finally it rescinds and replaces the guilt and punishment you deserved with forgiveness and reconciliation.

It is as if we have been brought to trial and the judge has found us guilty. But before our sentence can be executed, the order comes from a higher court to reverse our sentence, throw out the case, and set us free. You see, there is a higher law, a higher way of loving-kindness that supercedes the legal precepts we have violated. Because of God’s mercy, the guilty verdict can be overturned, the condemned one set free, and yet, though the judgment against us has been rescinded, justice is not violated. Justice has not been nullified — it has been satisfied!

Debtors To Mercy, Not Justice
As God’s creatures, all of us are indebted to God to obey Him with all our body, soul, and strength. Having broken His commandments, as we all have, we are debtors to His justice, and we owe Him a vast amount — more than we could ever repay. All of us on our own deserve God’s judgment because we can never adequately obey God’s royal law or pay the debt we owe for violating it. But once we are in relationship with Jesus Christ, we stand before God, from whom we deserve judgment and upon whom we are depending for mercy, and because of God’s character and what He has done for us at Calvary, His mercy triumphs over judgment. It can truly be said of Christians that we do not owe God’s justice anything, for Christ has paid the debt His people owed!

For this reason, the believer owes the Lord a great debt of love for the mercy we have been given. I am a debtor to God’s forgiving mercy, but I am no debtor to His justice, for He will never accuse me of a debt He has already paid. When Jesus said, “It is finished!” He meant that whatever His people owed was wiped away forever from the book of remembrance. Christ has satisfied to the uttermost divine justice. The account is settled. The handwriting is nailed to the Cross. The receipt is given, and we are debtors to God’s justice no longer. But now, because we are no longer debtors to our Lord’s justice, we have become even greater debtors to God for His never-ending lovingkindness.

Because of God’s great love for us, His mercy has triumphed over judgment. The victory has been won. The price has been paid. And now, the Lord is ever extending His mercy to us who are called by His name. Let us join in the great celebration in Heaven of the triumph Jesus Christ has eternally secured. Every judgement against us has been met with mercy and we stand reconciled and justified before our God for all time. Truly, this is a matter for joy, gratitude, hope, and confidence.

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