Mercy and Justice
by Noel Rude
Has anyone ever composed more beautiful and meaningful music
than King David? We have his words in the Psalms, and if the
melody measured up to the words, it must have been awesome
indeed. In spite of all David's sins God was pleased with him
(Acts 13:22b): "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after
Mine own heart, which shall fulfil all My will."
But was it just the music? It was not, as it says (2 Sam
8:15; I Chronicles 18:14): "And David reigned over all Israel;
and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people."
Later, Jeroboam cut his people off from Jerusalem and
established an independent form of worship (I Kings 12:26-33).
Henceforth, of each king of Israel it is written, "he departed
not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made
Israel to sin" (I Kings 16:2,7,19,26; 21:22; 22:52; 2 Kings 3:3;
10:29; 13:2,11; 14:24; 15:9,18,24,28; 17:21; 23:15; etc.).
When we reject the source of God's Word - as Jeroboam did -
then the supply dries up. And so, Amos, a prophet to Jeroboam's
"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD GOD, that I will send
a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst
for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they
shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the
east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the
LORD, and shall not find it" (Amos 8:11-12).
We are living in such a day. It is not as if the words of
the Lord aren't right there at our fingertips. Bibles and Bible
helps and commentaries and studies are everywhere. But we've been
educated since the 1960s to believe that the Bible isn't true.
And so we search the globe in vain. We are, in that sense,
spiritual heirs of Jeroboam.
(It may be true in a sense, but the time is coming at the end of
this age that the truth of God's word will not be able to be
found as it is today. One day THIS Website will be condemned as
heretical and anti-Catholic, and will be removed from the
Internet. The endtime Beast Power will take away free access to
the truths of God's word. People will seek it, but will not be
able to find it - Keith Hunt)
Amos prophecies that in the latter days Jeroboam's spiritual
heirs will find themselves in darkness, yet, be self confident in
their worship (See Amos 5:20-25).
What the world needs, as Amos puts it, is for judgment to
run down as waters, and "righteousness as a mighty stream." There
is much suffering and hurt and poverty in this world because of
its unjust judges and because men "...call evil good and good
evil ..." (Isaiah 5:20).
But are we not ALL guilty to one degree or another? As God
said to Cain, "sin lieth at the door" (Genesis 4:7). And as Paul
tells us (Romans 3:23), "For all have sinned, and come short of
the glory of God."
In "AmazIng Grace," the best-loved of all hymns, John
Newton's allusions to the drama or his life tell the story of a
youth who was a virtual slave in Sierra Leone before ironically
becoming a slave trader himself. A gradual spiritual awakening
transformed Newton into an ardent evangelist and anti-slavery
And so, we sing a hymn by John Newton, an English sea
captain who repented of a life of sin.
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like
me I once was lost, but now I'm found was blind, but now I
But, is it Cheap Grace?
The hymn is beautiful, but is God's grace really as
"scandalous" as some would have it? Is it a "cheap grace"?
God is "the Judge of all the earth" (Genesis 18:25; Psalms 50:6,
75:8, 82:8; I Peter 4:5; Romans 3:6; Hebrews 12:23; etc.), and
Jesus is also a judge (Matthew 25:31; John 5:30; Acts 10:42;
Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1; etc.). God is merciful (Deuteronomy
4:31), "For the LORD thy God is a merciful God" - and His mercy
cannot be bought - that is the meaning of justice (Psalms
89:14,15): "Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy
throne: mercy and truth shall go before Thy face." This is what
Peter perceived (Acts 10:34), "Of a truth I perceive that God is
no respecter of persons", which is what the Torah proclaims
(Deuteronomy 10:17), "For the LORD your God is God of gods, and
LORD of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which
regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward."
This, I suggest, is what Paul meant when he says (Ephesians
2:8-9), "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man
God's mercy cannot be bought - just as we hope our judges
cannot be bought off by the rich and powerful. But this does not
mean that we will not be rewarded according to our works. Solomon
asks, "and shall not He render to every man according to his
works?" (Proverbs 24:12). Jesus answers, "For the Son of man
shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then
He shall reward every man according to his works" (Matthew
No Mercy Without Merit
Is the New Testament grace (charis) really "unmerited
pardon"? In one sense it is not! For will God invest His mercy in
one if He knows there will be no return on His investment? Maybe
not - considering Isaiah 55:10-11:
"For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and
returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it
bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and
bread to the eater: So shall My word be that goeth forth out
of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall
accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the
thing whereto I sent it."
God's mercy comes with strings attached. We repent, as God
instructs the spiritual seed of Jeroboam (Ezekiel 18:30):
"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one
according to his ways, saith the LORD Goo. Repent, and turn
yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall
not be your ruin."
Jesus came preaching (Matthew 3:2), "Repent ye: for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand." And Peter said (Acts 2:38),
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus
Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift
of the Holy [Spirit]."
This is the merit of repentance that Christians should know
well. There is also the merit of the fathers, which Moses invoked
after Israel committed the sin of the golden calf. God says to
Moses, "Now therefore let Me alone, that My wrath may wax hot
against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of
thee a great nation" (Exodus 32:10). Moses adamantly refuses.
Yet Cain asks, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9).
Yes, we are our brother's keeper. We rest on one another's merit.
It is to this intent that Paul cautions (I Corinthians 7:14),
"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the
unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your
children unclean; but now are they holy."
The Merit of Going Beyond
Is it enough to just do what is required? Micah asks and
answers (6:8), "... and what doth the LORD require of thee, but
to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy
God?" And Jesus says, "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done
all those things which are commanded you, say, We are
unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to
do" (Luke 17:10). Peter warns, "And if the righteous scarcely be
saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (I Peter
Remember how it says (Matthew 16:27), "For the Son of man
shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then
He shall reward every man according to his works."
God's mercy cannot be bought, but if we merit no reward, will
there be any mercy?
Jesus says, "in my Father's house are many mansions: if it
were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for
you" (John 14:2). He is talking about offices of authority. If we
are not willing to assume an office, to take responsibility for
others, to be our brother's keeper, then it's a good question
whether God will extend His grace to us. We are called to a
crown, and Jesus warns, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast
which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Revelation 3:11).
Abraham obeyed God (Genesis 26:5), but he also sinned (Romans
6:23), and thus he, too, was saved by grace (Genesis 15:6), "And
he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for
righteousness:" So in what merit might Abraham have received the
"For I know Him, that He will command His children and His
house hold after Him, and they shall keep the way of the
LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring
upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him"
We are indeed our brother's keeper (James 1:27): "Pure
religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To
visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep
himself unspotted from the world." And charity begins at home.
(Galatians 6:10): "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do
good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household
of faith." Again Paul says, "But if any provide not for his own,
and specially for I those of his own house, he hath denied the
faith, and is worse than an infidel"
(I Timothy 5:8).
(continued on page 19)
Jesus' parables illustrate the concept of reward for works.
Remember, for example, the unprofitable servant who hid his pound
in a napkin. It doesn't say that this man was a grievous sinner.
Nevertheless, the Lord said to those that stood by (Luke
"Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten
pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be
given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall
be taken away from him."
So let us seek the merit of repentance, and let us invoke
the merit of the fathers and especially the merit of our elder
brother who is the Messiah - and let us invest our talents in
doing God's work and, wretched that we might be, let us accept
the responsibility of an office in the world to come when, as
John says (Revelation 20:4), "And I saw thrones, and they sat
upon them, and judgment was given unto them: ... and they lived
and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
Noel Rude is a linguist who works with American Indian languages
in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.
Scriptures taken from the NKJV.
Taken from ACTS magazine - July/August 2007 - a publication of
The General Churches of God, 7th Day, Meridian, ID, USA
Entered on this Website on the Feast of Trumpets - September 2007