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“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” (Romans 11:32 ESV) With these words, Paul brings us back to the starting point. God’s action to show mercy is both for us and all people. He did this in sending our Savior, Jesus. In Him alone, God has had mercy on us all!

Our sermon series, On the Roman Road, has focused on the message of the Gospel. This is a very personal message for Paul. In this section, Paul further reflects on the truth of this Gospel: that it is neither earned nor deserved, and what this means for us all. Paul points out that the hardest part of believing in the God of grace is it really doesn’t leave room for us to consider our own worthiness. God’s election is the action of His mercy. Not one of us has a claim or hold on God. That not all of the Jews have believed the message and good news of Jesus is not a stumbling block to the faith but instead another sign that God’s grace - His election, His salvation - was always and only the mercy of God to forgive one and to forgive all. There can be no boasting. There can be no pride in our standing in the Gospel for God has shown mercy to us all.

Mercy is not a concept or action that we can readily relate to. Many of us have been brought up experiencing the adage “you reap what you sow.” Or you get out of something only what you are willing to put into it. This is certainly a common experience. Many schools, colleges, and universities both local and international have begun their classes again. The beginning of a new academic year is a very exciting and optimistic time. ‘Work hard and do your best and you will have a good result, a good grade.’ While we may have read in the syllabus about a “grace” period for turning in assignments, or we just hope that the teacher will be “merciful” in their grading, we still earn what we receive based on our performance.

So, when it comes to the Gospel and the mercy we receive from God, we may feel compelled to find some reason, effort or participation that we must have contributed to attain the generous outcome of our salvation. Grace and mercy just don’t seem fair to our way of thinking or our way of living. Yet, in facing the hard reality of his fellow unbelieving Jews and the miracle of the Gentiles having responded to the Gospel, Paul again takes personal the Good News of the cross: Jesus was rejected that we might all be accepted. The Bread of life was broken that we would be made whole. God has had mercy on us all!

This has a huge, life-changing effect on all who hear and believe this message. We have been shown mercy and so are now equipped and filled with His Spirit so that we too can show mercy. This is the miracle of faith. God’s mercy showered upon us now spills over to the lives of those that we see every day.

As we hear again the Good News of God’s mercy, may He change our way of thinking and truly prepare each of us for every good and gracious task that He has given us to do this week in showing and living out the mercy of God shown to us in Jesus.

Pastor Carl