(week 22/08)
Olubi Johnson

Hebrews 4:15-16 (HVG): For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (16) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Here, we are told to come with confidence to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and grace in the time of need.

Observe the order: mercy first and then grace. Why?

Mercy is the compassion of God: his being touched with the feeling of our infirmities, which causes him to release a measure of His life, through the air upon our souls, bodies and circumstances to help, deliver and preserve us from destruction (Lamentation. 3.22).

This is why mercy comes first, without mercy we can easily be destroyed before the grace of God can come to us to get us born-again and enable us to do the will of God.

In this regard it is instructive to note that in the execution of the plan of redemption, God started with mercy in the Old Testament and finished with grace in the New Testament.

Mercy is given to all men: both saints and sinners.

For saints it is given through acknowledging the Lord in your thinking with thanksgiving and released in it’s fullness in the gifts of the Spirit through praying in tongues. Without acknowledging God frequently and praying in tongues the mercy of God is still released upon us by God in His sovereignty only that it may be not be released in it’s fullness.

For the sinner it is given sovereignly by God even without them asking based simply on the honesty or integrity of their hearts.

The degree of the honesty of hearts of men (and not the number of morally correct deeds that they have done or are doing (Ephesians 2.9), determines the degree of the mercy of God they receive:

2Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

Genesis 20:2-7 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. (3) But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” (4) Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? (5) Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” (6) Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. (7) Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

In Genesis 20.6 we see God showing mercy to a heathen King: Abimelech, by sovereignly not allowing him to sexually violate Sarah, even though he intended to, because of the integrity or honesty of his heart.

The measure of the life of God released through the air (Ephesians 2.2 and Daniel 4.17) upon men is determined by the degree of the mercy of God being shown to them.

Grace is the undeserved favour of God given to men through Jesus Christ, which causes a measure of the life of God to be released into their spirits, through the cleansing of the blood of Jesus.

It is grace that gets us born-again and grace the enables us to do the will of God: working hard in the spirit.

1Peter 3:7 (KJV): Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

1Corinthians 15:10 (KJV): But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Grace is only given to saints not sinners or those who are not yet born again:

John 1:17 (KJV): For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

As born-again Christians we need both mercy and grace to preserve us from destruction and enable us to do the will of God.

We receive grace daily by faith (Ephesians 2.8), by washing our feet at least 4 times daily.

We receive mercy by frequently (at least once every conscious hour (Matthew 24.42) acknowledging the Lord in our thinking with thanksgiving for mercy to be preserved from destruction and to be faithful (1 Corinthians 7.25) not to faint in difficult and hard situations using the power of the Holy Spirit upon us by the revelation, power and vocal gifts of the Spirit.

This mercy releases a measure of the life of God upon us, which can then be used by the Holy Spirit to minister through us the gifts of the Spirit. This was how God ministered through un-regenerate men in the Old Testament: they had the power of God upon them and not within them as we do in the New Testament.

So in the New Testament we have both mercy and grace: grace for internal development of the love and character of God, mercy for external protection, preservation and operation of the revelation, power and vocal gifts of the Holy Spirit.