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Summary: This sermon expolores what Paul is talking about in Rom. 12:1-2 when he mentions the mercies of God as a motivator for Christian service.

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By The Mercies of God.

Rom. 12:1-2

There is an old story (various sources, original source unknown) of a mother who approached Napoleon Bonaparte concerning her son. It seems that her son had committed some serious infraction and Napoleon had determined that he was to be executed. The son’s mother came to Napoleon and asked him to pardon her son. Napoleon declared that the boy had disobeyed on two occasions and justice demanded that he be executed. The woman replied, “But I don’t ask for justice, I plead for mercy.” “But your son does not deserve mercy.” “Sir,” the woman cried, “It would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.” “Well then,” the emperor said, “I will have mercy.” and he spared the woman’s son.

In Romans 12:1-2, the apostle Paul appeals to his readers . . . .

The primary motive which Paul cites for our commitment to God is that of God’s mercies. He says, “Therefore, I urge you brethren by the mercies of God . . .”

What is mercy? Mercy is that act which is performed to alleviate the suffering of another. The famous story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 illustrates the concept of mercy. The Samaritan saw the traveler in dire straits and in need of assistance and he took action to help relieve his suffering. In the bible, God’s mercy is that action of God that is taken to relieve the suffering of man which has been brought about by man’s own sin. God’s mercy is not bestowed on us because we deserve it but because God desires to give it. It is unconditional. In the Old Testament, God’s mercy is always connected with the covenant relationship between God and Israel. (Deut. 7:7-9) God has mercy on Israel, not because Israel deserves mercy, but because God is merciful to his covenant people. This is a covenant which Israel continuously violates. This violation always brings about punishment from God. But the punishment is not meant to drive away Israel but rather to restore the broken covenant and bring Israel back to God. God is faithful to himself and therefore faithful to his covenant with Israel.

God’s ultimate act of mercy is his sending of Jesus to die for the sins of “his people.” When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in Matt. 1:21, he declared concerning Jesus, “He will save his people from their sins.” To the Jewish mind, they were God’s people and so Jesus came to die for them and not the Gentiles. But after Jesus died and the church was established and the Gentiles began to flood into the church, the Jews, including those converted to Christianity, began to ask, “Has God abandoned his people?” Has God done something that he had promised never to do? After all he promised in I Sam. 12:22, “For the Lord will not abandon his people on account of his treat name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for himself.” Paul seeks to answer that question in Romans chapters 9-11. He says flatly in Rom. 11:1, “I say then, God has not rejected his people has he? May it never be . . .” In verse 2, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” Paul then adds in verse 5-6 . . .

This is where God’s mercy comes in. Paul actually begins his discussion of God’s mercy and Israel in chapter 9 when he begins 6 to differentiate between physical Israel and spiritual Israel. He says in verse 6, “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” He adds in verse 8, “. . . It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.” Paul follows with an illustration of Jacob and Esau in which God declares even before they were born, “Jacob I Loved, but Esau I hated.” (Rom. 9:13; Mal. 1:2). Then in verses 14-16 Paul says . . .

In other words, it is God’s decision concerning who is the recipient of his mercy. In the remainder of chapter 9 and all of chapter 10, Paul puts forth his argument that salvation which brings about righteousness before God, is through the grace and mercy of God which is received by man on the basis of faith. That salvation by grace through faith is offered not only to the Jews but to the Gentiles also (9:23-26).

This was the rock over which the Jews stumbled for they continued to pursue righteousness through obedience to the law of Moses rather than through faith in Christ Jesus (Rom. 9:30-33).

In 10:1-13, Paul declares that righteous before God is obtained the same way, through faith, whether one is a Jew or a Gentile. Verse 12-13 says . . .

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