Grace and Mercy

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

  • Hebrews 4:16

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

  • Romans 4:16

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

  • Ephesians 2:8-9

“ ‘You move us to delight in praising you — for you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.  I will now call to mind my past foulness and the sins of my flesh, not because l love them, but because l love you, O my God  In [the books of the Platonists] l read that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God  but I did not read there that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us  I longed [to serve God alone] but was bound, not with the iron fetters of another, but by my own iron will. The enemy controlled my will and with it had made a chain for me and bound me. Lust had grown from a perverse will, habit had come from indulgence in lust, and necessity was the result of not resisting habit … Give [the grace to do] what you command and command what you will.’ (Confessions 1.1 ; 2.1 ; 7.9; 8.5; 10.19)
“ ‘[God] extends his mercy to [people] not because they already know him but in order that they may know him. He extends to [people] his righteousness, by which he justifies the ungodly, not because they already are but in order that they might become upright in heart.  If a commandment is kept through fear of punishment and not for love of righteousness, it is kept slavishly, not freely, and therefore is not [truly] kept at all. For fruit is good only if it grows from the root of love … That man has progressed a long way in righteousness who has discovered by that very progress how far he is from the perfection of righteousness. (
The Spirit and the Letter 11, 26,64)”

  • Tony Lane, A Concise History of Christian Thought

On the website they define Mercy as a forgiveness of sins and withholding the punishment that is justly deserved.  Grace, on the other hand, is God heaping undeserved blessings upon the sinner.  For salvation, we get both.  You could say that Mercy is a subset of Grace in that it is undeserved and the withholding of punishment is indeed a blessing, but God adopts us as His children.  “Heaping undeserved blessings” could not be more “heaped” than that.

“Grace is the free, undeserved goodness and favor of God to mankind.”

  • Matthew Henry

Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430), born Aurelius Augustinus, was bishop of Hippo in northern Africa.

Before meeting the risen Savior, St. Augustine lived a licentious life.  The “lust” of what he speaks in the quote above is saying it lightly.  He studied philosophy and chased various ideas before being guided to Christianity.  He could indeed be someone who knew the full importance of Mercy and Grace.  He does not hold anything back in his Confessions.

But these two quotes show, in a profound way, a departure in early Christian philosophy / theology.  To this point, there were gatherings of church leaders to fight heresies and provide statements of faith like the Nicene Creed (325AD) and the Apostle’s Creed (mid 5th century).  They also decided what was to be in the canon of Scripture (late 5th century).  Many of the bishops that I have quoted over the past few months have argued their points either in the realm of purity (sticking to what the Scriptures state) or the realm of unity (obey the bishop blindly or sign a creed and state that you will abide by the creed, and then you can ignore the creed).  Many of these philosophers tried to bridge the gap between the ancient Greek philosophers and Christianity.  While there are many areas of similarity, bridging the gap goes beyond simple intellectual argument to having faith.

But then, St. Augustine articulates the concepts of Grace and Mercy so eloquently in the quotes above.  Rather than resolve philosophical arguments or unify believers under one creed or fight heresies (which St. Augustine became successful in doing), Augustine starts making statements that explain what it means to be a Christian.  He expands upon the statements made in the epistles.

Now, many philosophers might consider this unworthy of a philosopher.  But remaining strictly in the intellectual realm of philosophy, negates the element of faith.  Speaking of blind faith negates reason.  The existence of God can be seen in nature, indeed, in all living things.  Blind faith need not be an end unto itself, but Christians should be a thinking people.  God is everywhere and in all things, thus we should have a means of expressing those little nuggets that attract us in explaining how God is in all things.  We should be able to clearly state what it is that we believe and how that belief is life giving.

But while being able to explain why we believe the way we do, we still must understand that it is the Holy Spirit working within us to illumine our minds so that we see God in everything.  Those that do not believe will simply see the same thing and shrug, considering it a cosmic accident.  Odd, we are required as Christians to articulate why we believe, but the unbeliever only has to shrug in disbelief – and then the Christian is the one who is charged with the label of not knowing how to think.

If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


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  1. This definitely caught my attention.. Grace and Mercy.Anita

    Liked by 1 person

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