We all long for mercy when we are hurting, wrong or wronged. Mercy is an attribute of our loving God and Savior. He gives us mercy, peace and love in Christ Jesus and we can rest in knowing that even when judgment comes, we are kept for Jesus Christ. We now wait anxiously for the mercy of Jesus Christ to eternal life at his appearing. What richness of grace and mercy is ours in Him!

Jude speaks much of the judgement and condemnation that is coming upon the ungodly who creep into our churches and turn the grace of God into licentiousness as they even deny the Lord. How fearsome their judgement will be on that day! There is a part of us that can only rejoice that they will be exposed for what they are and pay the price for their rebellion against our great Lord and Savior. But at the end of the mighty epistle written by Jude, is a reminder that we have been shown much mercy and therefore must be merciful as we are told in Mt 5:7. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

Jude 22 instructs us to have mercy on the doubting. These false teachers who creep in create doubts and confusion about the truth, causing even true believers to be blown about by their winds of falsehood. Those of us who are able to see the lies must help expose the liars so the souls weakened by false teaching can find solid ground for their feet to stand on. It is true mercy to teach and warn those who are wavering. Love and mercy do not leave a doubting brother or sister to fend for themselves against these wolves.

We are told to save others, snatching them out of the fire. It can get hot and we sometimes get burned but those who are deceived must be literally snatched out of the deception they have fallen for. John Macarthur explains this “The implication is that they’re already in the fire of this false belief. They’ve been convinced. They’re not just confused, they’re not convinced. They’ve bought the lie of liberal theology. They’ve bought the lie that Jesus isn’t God. They’ve bought the lie that salvation is part by grace and part by works. They’ve bought the lie that whatever form of apostate Christianity they’re seduced by and they’re now in the fire, they’re already being singed by the fires of hell which will engulf them in the future. And the imagery is very vivid. Snatch them out of the fire, harpazo, to take by force, to carry away, to attack. Now we’re getting into language that is not gentle…not gentle. We’re snatching them out of the fire”

We are to have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. When we get too close to the fire in our efforts to contend for the truth, we can get pulled in to behaviors that are fleshly and we can get pulled into the deception of these ungodly persons. We must be aware of how easily we can fall and hate sin greatly if we are to be faithful. Our mercy must be grounded in the truths of God’s Word, in prayer and in the fellowship of saints who see the truth and understand the battle.

We are not lone rangers out there fighting on our own. We are to be part of a highly trained and well prepared team of saints who will wrestle against the ungodly for the glory of God. Our training comes from those things that Jude taught us about keeping ourselves in the love of God, which are to build ourselves up in our most holy faith, pray in the Spirit and keep our hope fixed on the soon return of our Lord. We must be people of the Word if we are to win this battle. But we must also be a people of great mercy always remembering the mercy we have been given.

We must never mistake mercy for weakness, or willingness to ignore sin by looking the other way. The truly merciful person will not sit by and watch someone walk into the fire and be destroyed. We will do all we can to pull them back and see them saved.

Two Gardens

Sometimes my soul groans with how messed up this world is. All around I see people who are hurting, broken, wounded by sin. But our world won’t even acknowledge the idea of sin – we call it a mistake, a bad decision but sin? No – that’s some outdated notion that post-modern people have outgrown. And what is even worse, is that we now call sin good, and celebrate it with pride.

But if we put down the smart phone for a few minutes, and allow ourselves to face that deep groaning in our hearts, we come face to face with the awfulness of sin, both in ourselves and in those around us. We can try to talk ourselves out of the truth but we know, deep down, that this is not how it’s supposed to be. This world we live in is marred by evil and pain and death.

In Genesis 3, the first man and woman were faced with a decision much like what we face every day. Do I trust God or not? Do I believe that what He says is true or do I go my own way, believing that maybe He is holding out on me? After all, that was how the serpent deceived Eve in the garden – by causing her to question God’s goodness towards her. So she took the fruit and ate, and gave some to her husband and he ate. And in that instant, they lost all the goodness of fellowship with God and with each other. What had been perfect was now marred by their rebellion against the God who created them and loved them. And so, all of us since then have been born into a state of rebellion against God and all that is good.

You may object. How is it possible that children – babies – are born in a state of rebellion? If you are a parent you know that you did not teach your kids to say no when told to do something, to hit or bite when they want their own way, to steal, to scream and demand when they see something they want. It’s the inherent state that we all enter the world in. We are selfish creatures who have no problem loving ourselves (pop psychology not withstanding). We easily put our selfish needs and wants first. Its others we have trouble loving. That day long ago, in that garden everything became twisted and wrong.

The amazing thing is that our holy God, who cannot look on sin, had a plan to take care of our problem long before it ever happened on that fateful day in the garden. From eternity past, He loved us and implemented the perfect plan to bring us back from our ruined state. In fact, on that day in the garden, God made a promise of such importance that it resonates to this day. He promised the deceived and now broken woman that He would take care of her. He told the deceitful serpent that “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise Him on the heel…”Gen 3:15.  You see the payment for sin is death. The man and woman knew this when they rebelled against God.

I know that sounds odd to post-modern ears. But this is the best news ever told. The serpent’s seed, Satan, will no longer win the day. His head will be crushed – but in the process, the woman’s seed, or offspring, will suffer a terrible blow to His heel.

There was another day. It was a dark and terrible day, when the offspring, or seed, of the woman, took up His cross and walked to His death. This perfect man took the wages of sin on Himself because of His great love for all of us. He lived a life in perfect harmony with God the Father. He never rebelled because He was born of a virgin and was therefore free of the genetic, inherited trait all the rest of humanity is cursed with – sin. That day, His heel was bruised by the nails of the cross. He suffered in our place and paid the penalty of death for us. We owed God a debt of perfect righteousness or we pay the penalty of death. It was a debt you or I could never pay even if we had a million lifetimes to try.

But God had a plan. He would pay the price Himself through His own Son. How do I know that God accepted His payment on my behalf – and yours? Jesus dead body was taken from the cross, and laid in a tomb in another garden. But He didn’t stay there. He was raised from the dead on the third day. And now He ever lives to make intercession for His people. Those who by faith turn from their sin and rebellion and believe in Him.

Who is this? He is Jesus the Messiah. The Son of God who was fully God and fully man. The one who loves you and gave Himself up for you.  Will you turn from your sin and believe in this wonderful One who God promised so long ago? You see, God did not leave us without hope.  That day in the first garden, He already planned to set us right again. In the second garden, He fulfilled His promise. But you must believe to become part of His family. Will you?