Summary: Justice and Mercy are polar opposities. Then how does God's plan for salvation satisfy the demands of both?
This is Part 4 of an 8-part series, which was originally developed for a 13-week adult class, with some of the parts taking more or less than a 45-minute class period. I am starting to post the series on SermonCentral, and plan to post the remaining parts over the next few days as time permits.
I developed a set of slides on PowerPoint for use with the series and will be happy to share the PowerPoint files. The prompts reminding me to advance slides and activate animations are embedded in the sermon below. If you want to request the slides send me an Email at firstname.lastname@example.org specifying what part(s) of the series you are requesting. Be sure to include the word “slides” in the subject line of your message; otherwise I am likely to miss it. I would find it interesting to know the location and a few words about your personal ministry if you will include it in your message. Allow several days for me to respond.
Outline of the series:
I. Introduction to the series
II. God’s Plan from the Beginning
III. God’s Plan Now and Our Problem with It
IV. Justice vs Mercy and the Plan of Salvation
V. The Only Way to Eradicate Sin
VI. Providence – What God Provides in Earthly Life
VII. Providence and Civil Governments
VIII. Providence, Miracles and Phenomena
*Click for title of series - DIVINE PROVIDENCE
* Click when ready for Outline
IV. Justice vs Mercy and the Plan of Salvation
*Click for the plan as presented so far
Up to this point in the series, we have been seeing what God’s providential plan was from the beginning in the garden of Eden and continuing to the present time. We found that his requirements under the plan for our choices and conduct are no different for us than they were for Adam and Eve.
The plan required that they - and we - know what God wants, choose rightly, and act upon that right choice, which amounts to obedience to a sovereign who has the right to direct our lives.
If we choose and act as the plan directs, we will be rewarded with an eternal home in glory.
I said last week that there is a problem with what I have presented so far.
The problem is that no one fulfills this plan’s requirements.
In that respect we are no different than Adam and Eve who failed to meet the requirement placed on them. So if the plan, as presented here, didn’t work for Adam and Eve and ensure that they had a home in God’s specially prepared paradise, how can it work for us?
Is there a problem with God’s plan?
There remains a problem, but God’s plan isn’t the problem.
The problem is that this isn’t the entire plan.
If this depiction is God’s complete plan, it’s a plan that won’t work for us, just as it didn’t work for Adam and Eve – for exactly the same reason.
In fact, this plan--as far as it goes--isn’t even true without the rest of God’s plan.
We are all living proof of that.
*Click to activate WE NEED HELP
To work and be effective at accomplishing what God desires, this model depends on help.
And there is help. The help we need is part of the plan.
God willingly and abundantly provides it.
This plan won’t save one sinner without THE PROVIDENTIAL HELP GOD PROVIDES.
And that is what we’re going to talk about for the rest of our time in this series—
(1) what God provides, both to accomplish salvation for us who--like Adam and Eve--fall into sin, and
(2) what God provides as help and support for this earthly sojourn.
Justice places us in the same condition as the Ephesians Paul wrote to:
Ephesians 2:11-12 ESV …remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands; remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
That’s what our condition is without Christ.
We can’t get to salvation and everlasting life in glory without him - there’s no path for it.
In the earlier sermons in this series, we talked about that God required in the garden, and what he requires now. God’s requirements in principle are so closely parallel that one may rightly say that they are the same, although the specific instructions differ. There are many ways of stating what God requires of man as captured in what I call “nutshell” passages, where in a verse or two the whole gamut of commands and instructions that might be cataloged in extravagant detail are boiled down to a verse or two. A quick review of some examples of “nutshell” passages would include: