The Mercies of God’s Love

By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

We are here to worship our Lord, our God; the majesty of the universe. As we aspire to such worship, do we know what it actually is? Do you know what it is to worship God? The dictionary meaning for worship is to adore; to regard with adoration; to adore our Lord, to adore God, to regard constantly with the sense of adoration. Can you put on adoration? To do it unfeigning, we must have a reason for adoration. This is what I want to spend time on, to embrace a reason among many reasons, that causes us to adore Him with inexpressible words; impressions that cannot be expressed to adore Him.

He Has Created us

He has created us. That is a reason for worship; He is our creator. For this quick contemplation we come to Psalm 100:

Psalm 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he [is] God: [it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves; [we are] his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name. 5 For the LORD [is] good; his mercy [is] everlasting; and his truth [endureth] to all generations.

 

These words invoke adoration. It is He that made us, let us not forget that. The British are known for self-made men, that they are the ones that have made themselves; they are what they are because they are such capable persons. That is not only the British but the German too; there are many proud nations. It is He that made us. If there is any good in us, it is He. We adore Him for what He has done with us. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. As we come here to worship with thankfulness, and blessing His name, adoring Him; that is what is involved. Then comes this important principle, which I want to spend lots of time on, For the LORD [is] good; his mercy [is] everlasting.

His Beautiful Creation

We are reminded in the Ten Commandments and the Sabbath commandment that He is the one who created the heavens and the earth. The Sabbath has been set aside for us to adore Him for His works that He has made; to look at nature around us and to adore Him who has done all things so remarkably beautiful. Even though sin has marred His work, it is still something wonderful to admire and to adore Him.

Psalm 111:1 Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with [my] whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and [in] the congregation. 2 The works of the LORD [are] great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

You have many tourists that travel from one continent to another to behold and to seek out the beautiful scenes of nature. The works of the LORD [are] great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. He has given us these things to enjoy. This is why we adore Him.

Psalm 111:3 His work [is] honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever. 4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD [is] gracious and full of compassion.

That is why we are to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, to remember His wonderful works. We are here to do this.

His Mercies

Among all the reasons to adore Him, there is one that stands above all the others. It is the one we read there in Psalm 100:5 that I drew your attention to; that is that His mercy is everlasting. This is repeated in several psalms. Praise God for His mercy endureth forever. Mercy, the mercies of God’s love. This is what we want to contemplate. Our Scripture reading brought this to our attention:

Psalm 130:7 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD [there is] mercy, and with him [is] plenteous redemption.

When we use the word mercy, what has brought that word into focus? Is it not that we are in deep trouble? When somebody is in deep trouble, he calls out, mercy! Have mercy on me! Do we realise in what deep trouble we are in so that we might appreciate the mercy of God, and adore Him?

Psalm 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Remember the Sabbath day, why? It is the sign that the Lord is sanctifying us, that He has mercy on sinners.

Psalm 103:3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

on’t forget His benefits. What are they? Destruction that is the lot of every man dwelling on this planet, He redeemeth thy life from destruction. He pours out His lovingkindness upon us, His tender mercies.

Psalm 103:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good [things; so that] thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

He forgiveth all thine iniquities, He pours mercies upon us from His own motivation, not from our cry.

Psalm 103:8 The LORD [is] merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

When can you appreciate that? When you have caused Him to be angry? How many times have we caused Him to be angry? But He is merciful and slow to anger. When you know that you have done something to upset another person, and you are quavering within yourself, oh dear, I’ve lost favour here, and he turns around to you and doesn’t show anger; how do you feel? Don’t you want to hug him? Let us adore Him? He is slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

Psalm 103:9 He will not always chide…:

Yes He will, but not always.

Psalm 103:9…neither will he keep [his anger] for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, [so] great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth [his] children, [so] the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we [are] dust.

When you and I awaken to the enormity of our sinfulness, we can really appreciate these words. That God does not cast us off when we deserve to be cast off; when we really feel the enormity and the extent of our guilt and our sinfulness, the true justice that is required to deal with that is cause to effect. God, who is the master over cause to effect, has made a way of relief from that. When we see not only that He has made a release from the transgressions of the past, but He has pity on us while we are still wavering and failing to pick up everything that He wants us to learn.

Then we discover that I’ve done it there, and I’ve known better and I’ve still gone and violated God’s righteousness. Then I come to Him and I think that I haven’t got a hope anymore; I see Him, He is a pitying Father. He remembereth that we [are] dust.

Although, in my dusty, sinfulness, I have violated again, He is compassionate; He is merciful.

It is so important that when we read the word of God, we don’t just read it as a recording, but that we apply it to our living experience. This is what makes us adore Him.

Psalm 107:8 Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men! 9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

That’s all wonderful, but follow carefully.

Psalm 107:10 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, [being] bound in affliction and iron;

Have you ever felt yourself bound like with iron cords; that you cannot break out of your frailty and sinfulness? Why are we bound? Why are we finding it so difficult to break out from the sinfulness that so easily besets us?

Psalm 107:11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: 12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and [there was] none to help. 13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, [and] he saved them out of their distresses. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. 15 Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men!

Pause for a moment and consider, examine your life honestly without any patting on your back for any good that you may have done; without any consideration that maybe I have something to commend myself to God. If you examine yourself honestly, what is the cause of all our distresses? Apart from if you are really faithful and you have been persecuted for it, apart from that, what is it? Persecution is a distress, but there are distresses in our life that have nothing to do with persecution. Why are we in distress? Why, if we have problems; why do things happen that we wish would never have happened? Why are we under the sense of guilt? It is because these distresses are created by our own wrong, if you are honest with yourself? If you look back at your life and see all the negatives and what we are often prone to do is to blame everybody else for it.

If you carefully examine it, as I have done in my own life, it’s my own doing. If I would have listened to God and followed Him exactly all the time, I would not have suffered my distresses; it is as simple as that. All that mankind suffers on earth is his own making. I know if I was to touch certain areas in your life, some of the things I know of you, you would say, no, that’s because of this, no, it’s because of that.

God’s word is very plain; we are the product of our own decisions; our life is the product of our own decisions. From the very start, what did Adam and Eve say to God when they were caught out eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? The woman you gave me… this is what men have done ever since. ‘If we didn’t have women we wouldn’t be in the trouble we are in.’ That is a typical male reaction. No, it’s man’s problem, it’s not the woman’s problem; it is what man has done; it’s what Adam has done. Eve said, if you didn’t have the serpent there, I wouldn’t have done it. No, it was Eve. She became a tempter to Adam, and Adam made his decision to submit to her temptation. It’s him. He can’t blame her. This is just one little episode by which we, if we are very honest with ourselves, all our distresses and anguish of soul, is our doing. If you examine any distress that you are in, for which you may think if it wouldn’t be for this or that it wouldn’t have happened,; you may seek for someone else to be blamed, but look more closely, and see, as the Lord has shown me. If I look more closely, and I listen carefully to all the influence that comes from God’s view, as God sees, not as I see, that is what He shows us in this time of judgment in which we live. He reveals to us the things that mar our life. We are left with our mouths open; it was me; I can’t blame anyone else. My own decisions and responses were mine.

We sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, [being] bound in affliction and iron. What is it? We are bound by the cultivated habits of life. We are bound by them. They are like ropes of iron. You have tried to change that which is part of you and we can’t change. I have inherited it from my father; the fact is that those characteristics you saw as a child and you didn’t like them in your father or your mother; why are you doing it? I have had to come to that at the age of 21. I despised my father for his manner and I discovered I was doing the same. Why when I despise it? It is because I didn’t make the decision at an early stage to change the course of my decisions, and open my heart to the loving Jesus, who gave me all the evidence of His love. It is my own action. We sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, [being] bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the words of God.

God’s Response

But I loved the Lord from my early childhood and He shows me; remember there, and remember there; you knew better, but you rebelled against what I said. You didn’t like what I had told you and because you didn’t like what I told you, you did the opposite. But Lord, I love you. Yes, the Lord played that out in front of me with my children. They had done something wrong against their mother and the mother was very upset with them. They said, but mummy, we love you. I listened for a while and I said, yes, the Lord spoke to me as I was speaking with them. You say you love your mother, but you didn’t do what she said, therefore is that loving her? That shut their mouths and it shut mine too. If I really love God, do I do everything that He says? Certainly I think I do, but I don’t, so what was I doing? I rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High. Then He shows you, this is what you have done. Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and [there was] none to help.

This is the cry of sin-stricken humanity. Here is a description of every human being in the dilemma in which they find themselves. If you are honest, you will say, yes Lord, you are right. But look at this, what is God’s response to such a condition? This is the thing that baffles you. I am sitting under temptation and there is a strong urge to do the wrong and there is the other urge that comes from the Lord, that says, no, don’t do it, you know better. That other urge is so strong it just causes me to persevere in the wrong direction, and then I suffer the consequence. As I do this and I know what the Lord has said, and He has given me little warnings here and there, but I still go along and do it, then comes the consequence. When the consequence strikes, and I fall down and I can’t change myself; I’m just showing all those weaknesses throughout all my life. As I look back over those weaknesses I feel absolutely overwhelmed with the hopelessness of my case, and lo and behold, we cry unto the Lord in our trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. How true this has been. If there is any progress in our life, it is because of that.

The point I am trying to let the word of God flare up before our mind, is how do we feel when we discover that our condition is as a consequence of our own wrong choices and rebellious responses to His word? When we feel absolutely hopelessly condemned because it was me that kept on pushing it, and I have suffered the consequences, that now God comes close and He hears the cry, and He steps in to break the bands in sunder, and brings me out of my darkness. You shake your head and say, what, is this real? This can’t be right. We even feel tempted to hang onto our self condemnation, because it has been my entire fault anyway, so why should there be any help that comes from God? We need to be enabled to believe the goodness of God toward us. To adore Him when we are in this discovery of our true diseased condition, that we see Him as a loving, compassionate Father and God; to adore Him.

I didn’t do too good a job but I hope that the Holy Spirit will play back your life to see all your problems that you can’t see your way out of in regards to God’s expectations. As you view that, meditate on this, God’s response to our dilemma.

The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a revelation of “the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal” (Romans 16:25, R.V.). It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God’s throne. . . . God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the terrible emergency. So great was His love for the world, that He covenanted to give His only-begotten Son, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” {AG 23.4}

He provided for us a witness, advocate and a judge before it ever happened. In other words, He saw you and me before we were even born and He knew the path that we would follow and the decisions we would make. A very good example of that is the study of Daniel chapter 11. These characters in Daniel chapter 11 didn’t even exist when he described them. That is one of the most profound revelations of God’s foreknowledge. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence in every single one of us. This is the God with whom we have to do. As He foresaw it, He was ready for it.

As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour. {AG 23.5}

There was the path out.

Christ knew that He would have to suffer, yet He became man’s substitute. As soon as Adam sinned, the Son of God presented Himself as surety for the human race, with just as much power to avert the doom pronounced upon the guilty as when He died upon the cross of Calvary Ibid

It was all done beforehand.

What love! What amazing condescension! {AG 23.6}

Only as we contemplate can we begin to adore Him, with the kind of worship and adoration that He is worthy of. Here is an unfeigned adoration; here is a worship that comes because there is a reason for it, this is the greatest of all reasons.

The King of glory proposes to humble Himself to fallen humanity! Ibid

If you were the only person that sinned, and God knew you were going to do it, He would have come and taken that experience upon Himself; to become a witness and an advocate. Apply it to your personal self. Only then can you adore Him in a way that He is worthy of our adoration and worship.

He would place His feet in Adam’s steps. Ibid

He would place His feet in John Thiel’s steps; in every one of our steps.

He would take man’s fallen nature, and engage to cope with the strong foe who triumphed over Adam. Ibid

We are bound with bonds of iron; Jesus was bound with bonds of iron together with us. What was that? He broke them.

He would overcome Satan, and in thus doing He would open the way for the redemption from the disgrace of Adam’s failure and fall, of all those who would believe on Him. Ibid

Don’t you adore Him? It is a wonderful generalisation that we would adore Him but when it applies to the raw state of my own sinful reality, that’s when the picture becomes more vibrant and that’s what each one of us individually need to reflect upon so we can worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Let’s amplify this more:

By disobeying the commands of God, {AG 10.2}

We are rebellious against His commands and we suffer.

…man fell under the condemnation of His law. Ibid

Follow closely; we are bound, we are condemned by the law by disobeying any one of those words.

This fall called for the grace of God to appear in behalf of sinners. Ibid

The fall called for the grace of God. As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour.

We should never have learned the meaning of this word “grace” had we not fallen. Ibid

Do you know the meaning of grace? We use the dictionary to explain what grace means but we don’t know it unless we know our fallen condition.

God loves the sinless angels, who do His service, and are obedient to all His commands; Ibid

This is the natural man. When we are obedient God will love us and when we are disobedient we have lost His love. Have we? It says here God loves the sinless angels, who do His service, and are obedient to all His commands, but:

…but He does not give them grace. These heavenly beings know naught of grace; they have never needed it; for they have never sinned. Grace is an attribute of God shown to undeserving human beings. Ibid

How well do you know the meaning of grace? It is an attribute of God that is exercised and revealed to someone totally undeserving. Examine closely how undeserving we are. The fact is that in our rebelliousness, we don’t even at the time of rebellion seek for God. We are quite happy to brush Him off. The voice comes to warn you, I want to go on doing what I am doing. You know how prone we are to do that. I know that God is not pleased with what I am doing, but I am doing it anyway.

We did not seek after it, but it was sent in search of us. Ibid

And we adore Him. If, while I am all wrapped up in my own little world of pursuing my own appreciation of my own opinion, my own strong concept of what I think is right and we know there is a little voice that says, no, your ways are not my ways; follow me. No, we brush it off. God seeks after us. He searches for us.

God rejoices to bestow this grace upon every one who hungers for it. Ibid

When do we hunger for it? When we have sinned and utterly woken up to the horrible consequences of my sinfulness, of my mistakes, of my incapacity; when I wake up to that, then I begin to hunger for it.

To every one He presents terms of mercy, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly unworthy. Ibid

When you feel like that, utterly unworthy, then you can appreciate grace, then you can worship Him and adore Him. We are in a Laodicean condition and we know it not. We are faithful reformers, we are the people that are honoured by the Lord because we are historic Seventh Day Adventists. Look at our behaviour; look at our unworthiness as God sees it, then we discover our utter unworthiness.

Our need is the qualification which gives us the assurance that we shall receive this gift. Ibid

For Sinners Only

Grace is for sinners only. This just wiped away the entire spectrum of hopeless unworthiness, not because I am not unworthy, but because God has extended grace to me. Consider and wonder and adore as we continue.

Not because we first loved Him, does God love us; but “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8) {AG 10.4}

Let that waken up to your understanding, that I am there all bubbling around in my rebellious nature in my disobedience to the things in my predisposition to go on doing what I want to do in spite of what He’s counselling me. Jesus died for that, while I was still in that condition.

Christ died for us, making full and abundant provision for our redemption. Although by our disobedience we have merited God’s displeasure and condemnation, He has not forsaken us; Ibid

What are we doing here? We are enlarging Psalm 107:8-14. We are actually seeing what He has written if we will enlarge it as the Spirit of Prophecy does it here for us.

He has not left us to grapple with the power of the enemy in our own finite strength. Heavenly angels fight our battles for us; and co-operating with them, we may be victorious over the powers of evil. Trusting in Christ as our personal Saviour, we may be “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). Ibid

Those are all beautiful clichés aren’t they? But not until we truly know their impact upon our living experience do they become something to be wondered at; something to cause us to adore Him. As we contemplate our condition that God reveals to us because we are here to listen to His word, as we go home, we go through our experiences of depraving discoveries. We know what God’s will is and we keep on in little points here and there. We are rebellious. We show our rebellion by our insubordination, murmurings and complaining. But as we look at this, God in spite of that reveals His grace to achieve redemption from that, what will our response to such enormous mercy be? As we permit it to penetrate and it overwhelms us, as we look at the mercy and grace of God, that grace comes into action only to those who are sinners.

But God does not use His grace to make His law of none effect, or to take the place of His law. . . . God’s grace and the law of His kingdom are in perfect harmony; they walk hand in hand. {AG 10.3}

Ponder upon the response of this grace. It is directly connected with His law that we have broken. As I marvel at this grace and I open my heart to this grace, I respond to it.

His grace makes it possible for us to draw nigh to Him by faith. By receiving it, and letting it work in our lives, we testify to the validity of the law; Ibid

By actually permitting this grace to take root in our life, we now acknowledge that the law is the one that has condemned us and we acknowledge it to be true and I rely upon the grace of God which is Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

…we exalt the law and make it honorable by carrying out its living principles through the power of the grace of Christ; Ibid

As I open my heart to that grace, what will it do? As I respond to that grace, what will it do? I will exalt the law and make it honourable. I will carry out its living principles through the power of the grace of Christ.

…and by rendering pure, whole-hearted obedience to God’s law, we witness before the universe of heaven, and before an apostate world that is making void the law of God, to the power of redemption. Ibid

As I read this, my brain was cogitating. I thought what an amazing answer to the justification and redemption through Christ which justifies us from our past sins but takes us into a perfect obedience. As I respond to this grace, I hate the sin as now as I adore Him for what He has done in His mercy to me. I now realise the law that has condemned me is still there and I am relieved from the condemnation through this grace. Now my attitude to the law is no longer insubordination; I adore Him. As I adore Him because of His mercy toward me, the law becomes the channel of obedience through that grace.

God does not use His grace to make His law of none effect, or to take the place of His law. Of course not; because it was the reason of the broken law that this grace came into action. God’s grace and the law of His kingdom are in perfect harmony; they walk hand in hand. His grace makes it possible for us to draw nigh to Him by faith. By receiving it, and letting it work in our lives, we testify to the validity of the law.

By letting this grace that we haven’t sought for, work and show up God’s mercy and goodness to me who am a sinner having broken the law by receiving that and letting grace work in our lives, we testify to the validity of the law. We acknowledge, yes, the law has condemned me. We exalt the law and make it honorable by carrying out its living principles through the power of the grace of Christ; and by rendering pure, whole-hearted obedience to God’s law. Why? Because I adore Him. Look what He has done for me! Every time I am tempted from here onwards, I remember the enormity of my condition and the enormity of God’s great, wonderful grace. As my heart is filled with adoration, I turn with disgust from disobeying those commandments whereas before we were playing around with them. We witness before the universe of heaven, and before an apostate world that is making void the law of God, to the power of redemption.

To fully come to such an appreciation as I have endeavoured to communicate, which became so big to me again, as it has done so many times in the past, to fully come to such an appreciation, we need to see ourselves totally bereft of any good. You cannot appreciate this if there is any sense of good within yourself. The moment that you come out of it and say, now I am all right, it is gone, I have to have another fall to discover that there is no good in me. It is all the activity of God’s mercy. As it plays itself out in front of my heart in the condition of sense of total depravity, I will continue to adore Him.

Only he who sees his own sinfulness can discern the preciousness of the Saviour. {DA 494.4}

When I discern my own sinfulness, do I try to justify myself? Do I try to blame others? This is our danger. As soon as somebody points out something in my life, my sinful insubordinate self will try to make the picture better. Don’t do it, because if you do, you will feel a little exalted and you won’t be able to enjoy the amazing grace of God. If somebody has pointed something out in your life that really shows, I have done something wrong there, don’t try to justify it, because if you do, you have lost the benefit. Flee straight into the arms of the Lord, and you will adore Him. You will be humbled and, in response to everything around you, you will come forth to the glorification of God and Him only, not self at all. People will love you. You know what it’s like, when somebody justifies himself in front of you and pushes his own opinion and his own thoughts, you don’t feel comfortable in that person’s presence do you? When somebody doesn’t do that, you feel very happy to be in that person’s presence.

Let it sink in deep, let all our perplexities be seen as totally contributed by me; let this, with all its overwhelming sense, press upon your soul, then, with the deep sense of personal unworthiness that has been generated, behold God’s grace. See what that will do for you. God does not use His grace to make His law of none effect. God’s grace and the law of His kingdom are in perfect harmony; they walk hand in hand. His grace makes it possible for us to draw nigh to Him by faith. By receiving it, and letting it work in our lives, we testify to the validity of the law.
We exalt the law and make it honorable by carrying out its living principles through the power of the grace of Christ.

Did you pick up the very important kernel here? The power of the grace of Christ that I open my heart to because I am humbled and overwhelmed by the sense of my unworthiness, will cause me to exonerate God’s law without a skerrick of human self involved in it. This is what we need to learn and the Lord is at work to teach this to us as we are heading full speed into the great close of probation. The Lord is trying to do this with us and we will have nothing good in ourselves to come before Him and say, here I am now Lord; probation is closing and I am ready; nothing like that. It will all be the amazing grace of God by which I will keep His law.

May God help us to take this in personally, individually and see what a change it will create in our personal life, our life in the church and in our attitude toward others who do not believe as we do. It will have remarkable consequences. I praise God for showing this to me afresh, so that I can show it to you now.

Amen.

Posted on May 4, 2013, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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