#9 IN HIS GREAT MERCY

Peter is about to describe the salvation God has given to those who believe in Jesus Christ.

Having exhorted us to praise God, Peter introduces his description of salvation with the phrase ‘In his great mercy ...’ The King James Version translates the Greek text here with ‘According to his abundant mercy ...’ This KJV wording captures the meaning of the Greek words more fully than the NIV wording.

God has certainly acted towards us ‘in’ his mercy. He has not acted in his anger, or in his condemnation, but in his mercy. And that is indeed important and true. But ‘according to’ (which is the meaning of the word) gives a greater impact. ‘According to his mercy’ teaches us that God’s mercy is not only the manner in which God has acted towards us in Christ, but also the measure of his actions towards us. How can we measure salvation? What ruler or gauge or scale can we use to determine salvation’s size and durability and impact? Salvation is measured by God’s mercy.

Paul similarly states that the redemption and forgiveness we have in Christ are ‘according to the riches of God’s grace ...’ [Ephesians 1:7]. How big is redemption? As big as God’s grace. How much forgiveness do we have in Christ? As much as God’s grace.

Similarly, while it is important to understand that God’s mercy is indeed ‘great’, which speaks of the size of God’s mercy, it is also important to understand that God’s mercy is ‘abundant’. Abundant mercy includes the truth that God’s mercy is not only big, it is also more than enough than we need.

Here again Paul uses a similar description. In Ephesians 1:8 he describes God’s grace as ‘lavished on us’. Like the word ‘abundant’, ‘lavished’ indicates that God’s grace is far more than we could ever need. There is no such thing as God’s grace running out or falling short.

By the phrase ‘according to his abundant mercy’ Peter is telling us that when God saves us through the death of Jesus Christ:

This salvation is the result of God’s mercy, not the result of our merit.

This salvation expresses towards us God’s mercy, not the wrath and judgment we deserve.

This salvation is immense.

This salvation is inexhaustible.

Just as God’s mercy is more than enough for our needs, so the salvation God gives us is more than enough for our needs.

If God were to cease to act towards us according to mercy, then our salvation would come to an end.
If God were to relate to us according to our merit, then our salvation would come to an end.
If God’s mercy could come to an end, then our salvation, and any and every aspect of salvation, can also come to an end.
If any sin of ours could undo God’s mercy, then it can also undo salvation.

But here in this introductory phrase – ‘according to his abundant mercy’ – Peter teaches us that our salvation in Christ is secure and unlimited. In this he reflects a fundamental truth grasped by Old Testament believers:

‘O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever’ [KJV 1Chronicles 16:34].

‘O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever’ [KJV Psalm 136:26].

‘Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever ...’ [KJV Jeremiah 33:11].

All that God has done for us in and through the death of Christ arises from his abundant and enduring mercy. All that God has done for us in and through the death of Christ is as abundant and as limitless as his mercy.

It is no wonder that Peter has just exclaimed, as we saw last week, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!’

© Rosemary Bardsley 2017