The Radical God-Centeredness of God in Showing Mercy to Sinners

While the passage begins with humanity’s question, “Why would he still be mad at me” based in the sinful rebellion of the heart that seeks always to justify itself, Paul doesn’t answer them by justifying humanity. Paul answers them by justifying God. Paul answers them by talking about God. What I want to do to apply this text is to take us back through it and look at the attributes of God for which we can worship him.

  1. Sovereignty: “The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is often abused, misunderstood, and misapplied. Many Christians decide it is too deep, too confusing, too hard to understand, or too offensive. But we should not run from it; we should run to it. We should not be afraid of it; we should rejoice in it. This doctrine crushes human pride, exalts God, and strengthens the believer’s faith. What could be more encouraging than to know that God is sovereignly in control of all His creation? The universe is not subject to chance. There is no possibility that God’s plans will fail.” How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7 ESV)
  2. Authority: This attribute is linked to God’s sovereignty, but bears special emphasis. Our God has kingdom authority. Turn to the book of Mark with me. I want you to see the authority of Jesus specifically. Jesus, in the book of Mark is shown to have authority:
    1. Over people: 1:14-20
    2. Over sickness and demons: 1:29-34
    3. Over sin: 2:1-12
    4. Over nature: 4:35-41
    5. Over sickness and death: 5:21-43
  3. Wrath: This doesn’t sound like a reason to worship, but the wrath of God is real and it is a real reason to worship. Our God takes sin seriously. The death that Jesus died on our behalf wasn’t cheap. Think of him in the garden…He asked the Father to let the cup pass from him. Then, when Peter rose and drew his sword, we learn again that God doesn’t do things the way that we think he should do them. Jesus looks at him and says, put your sword away. I have to drink the cup my father has given me. The wrath poured out on Jesus was done so on behalf of his people, that we might bear none of it and while Jesus bore God’s justice, we walk from the cross justified and that is a reason to praise him.
  4. Power: God can do whatever he decides to do. He never lacks the ability to carry out his will and is never dependent upon human hands to accomplish his purposes and yet he graciously allows us to serve him and be the means by which he accomplishes his gospel. Paul reminds us that we encounter the power of God in the gospel when he says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation.” He says again in 1 Corinthians that the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.” Notice that he doesn’t say it’s wisdom. The cross is foolishness to the world, but to those who are being saved it isn’t merely a better philosophy or a better worldview. It is the very power of God.
  5. Patience:  How patient our God is with our grumbling and selfishness. We shake our fists in the sky and demand answers and he demonstrates his patience by enduring our wickedness. Even after coming to Christ we often act like spoiled children who want more presents than we have and he still treats us with patience and long-suffering.
  6. Purposes: God always accomplishes his purposes. He never fails. Romans 8:28-30.  “Consider what [these words] say. In general terms they teach us that nothing ever escapes from the over-arching purpose of God for his people. Indeed, not only do all the circumstances of my life not take God by surprise, but he actually employs them for my blessing.
  7. Mercy: 1 Peter 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Do you see how the verse organizes worship? We worship because God, according to his mercy has caused us to be born again. God saved us according to his mercy. Bless God! Why should God be kind to us? Why should he show us mercy? He shouldn’t. That’s what makes mercy so glorious. He doesn’t give us what we deserve.
  8. Glory: God does everything that he does for his own name’s honor and glory. Redemption is no different. We, according to this passage have been prepared for glory, or prepared to know God’s glory. For it is Christ in you that is the hope of glory that you fall short of right now. John Piper, the modern day apostle of the glory of God, says it best, “God’s purpose is not to be known as glorious and then exchanged for images. His purpose is to be known as glorious and treasured as glorious. When Paul says God’s purpose is to make known God’s glory he means make known as infinitely precious and infinitely pleasing. You were made to know the glory of God, to taste and see the glory of God, to treasure the glory of God, to enjoy the glory of God.” This God, this great God has done more than condescend to us, he has shown us his glory, glory of the only begotten one from the Father and given us the right to be called children of God.

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