By: Gary L. Hutchens
For how long will God be merciful? How far does God’s mercy go? How can finite man answer such a question about an infinite God? The depth of God’s love is expressed in the statement “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8, 16). God is the most succinct, the most comprehensive definition of “love.” It is beyond us, as finite beings, to fully understand God’s capacity to love? He is infinite.
Such is also the case with God’s mercy. God is not just merciful, God is “the Father of mercies…” (2 Cor. 1:3). The Psalmist states, “His mercy is everlasting,” (Ps. 100:5). We should be extremely thankful that God’s mercy is not limited to the degree to which human beings commonly limit their mercy. If God extended mercy to us with the limits that most of us extend mercy to others, virtually none of us would have any hope!
Think about God’s willingness to be merciful. We all sin (Rom. 3:23). The consequence of our sin is spiritual death (Rom. 6:23). Yet God is continually ready to forgive, as long as we are ready to truly and sincerely repent (Prov. 28:13). He did not place a limit on how many sins He will forgive before we use up all of His mercy. We need to be ready to extend that much mercy in our interactions with others!
But while God’s mercy is everlasting, the time that we have to fall upon His mercy is limited by our time on this earth. We live but a few years in this world. The scriptures seem clear that our time to repent and take advantage of God’s mercy ends when our days on this earth end.
Time for humanity as a whole clearly seems to come to an end when Christ returns on the final day of judgment (2 Thess. 1:7-9). It is not God’s will that any should die unforgiven, in a state of spiritual condemnation. But He has warned us that there will come a day on which He will bring life on this earth to an end (2 Pet. 3:9-10).
If we face the moment of our death unprepared and unrepentant, the fault is all ours. If we face our Lord before His judgment seat (2 Cor. 5:10) unprepared, we can only blame ourselves. God’s love, and His willingness to be merciful, is such that He is ready to forgive us anytime we are ready to properly seek His forgiveness.
At baptism, the blood that Christ shed on the cross will cleanse us of the guilt of all of our sins (Acts 22:16). If we have slipped back into sin after having been cleansed in the waters of baptism, we can repent and seek God’s forgiveness in prayer (Acts 8:22).
God’s mercy is limitless, as long as we are ready to take advantage of it. But we must act. God is ready to forgive, He wants to forgive, but we must repent and seek His forgiveness in the way He has instructed us to seek it. If we will do so, God in His mercy will forgive us and reserve a home in Heaven for us.
“ But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)…
Gary L. Hutchens