Bible study reading
Please prayerfully read through the following portions of ministry related to this lesson.
Romans 9:16 tells us that “it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” Our concept is that the one who wills will get what he wills to get and that the one who runs will gain what he runs after. If this were the case, then God’s selection would be according to our effort and labor. But it is not so. It is altogether of God who shows mercy. We do not need to will or to run, for God has mercy on us. If we do know God’s mercy, we will not put our trust in our efforts; neither will we be disappointed by our failure. The hope for our wretched condition is God’s mercy. (Elders’ Training, Book 6: The Crucial Points of the Truth in Paul’s Epistles, ch. 2, section 5)
Mercy goes farther than grace. If when I am in a good condition and my standing matches yours you give me a gift, that is grace. However, when I am in a poor condition and my standing is far removed from yours and you give me something, that is mercy. If I come to you as your dear friend and you give me a Bible as a gift, that is grace. However, if I am a poor unclean beggar, unable to do anything for myself and you give me ten dollars, that is not grace, it is mercy. Thus, mercy reaches farther than grace. Grace only extends to a situation that corresponds to it, but mercy goes much farther, reaching into a situation that is poor and unworthy of grace. According to our natural condition, we were far removed from God, totally unworthy of His grace. We were only eligible to receive His mercy.
Even now, after being saved and having participated in the riches of His life, we still, in some ways, are in a condition that needs God’s mercy to bridge the gap. This is the reason that Hebrews 4:16 says that firstly we need to obtain mercy and then we can find grace for timely help. Oh, how much we need His mercy! We must treasure God’s mercy as much as we appreciate His grace. It is always God’s mercy that qualifies us to participate in His grace. (Life-study of Romans, msg. 22, section 2)