Preaching requires many things. Every week there are many aspects the preacher should consider. In text-driven preaching, every sermon is governed by the text. The entire sermon is built upon three primary principles—the substance, the structure, and the spirit of the text. In our desire to make sure the text governs everything in the sermon, sometimes we forget to pan-out and take in the full panoramic picture. One thing we should ask as we examine the Scripture from a wide-angle lens is, “What attributes of God can be emphasized from this text?”
We cannot neglect this process. God’s attributes bring God’s magnificent character into vivid detail. I recently visited with a seasoned saint on a Sunday afternoon. He was sitting in his chair watching the football game on an old standard format TV. Looking at the TV, I realized how blessed I am to watch football at home on my wonderful UHD TV. Preaching God’s attributes brings out in magnificent detail, a clear and beautiful picture of God’s glory in Ultra-High Definition. When we examine the attributes of God it will raise our sermons to a new level.
God’s mercy is one attribute at the very core of his character. God’s mercy is something even non-believers can understand. I once heard pastor and rapper Trip Lee define mercy as “when someone deserves to be slapped and you don’t slap them.” This could be the best definition I have ever heard. The mercy of God takes us to the very essence of the Gospel itself.
The biblical idea of mercy runs deep into the well of God’s great character. The Old Testament writers paint the picture of mercy in many ways but the Hebrew word hesed stands tall above the rest. God’s lovingkindness for his covenant people has always been in ever abundant supply. Hesed was born in the heart of God’s never-ending compassion. The very nature of hesed is what drove Jesus to the cross. However one defines God’s mercy, it should always illustrate the glorious redemptive act of mercy upon the Cross of Calvary. We all deserved the cross, but in God’s mercy he “proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8 CSB)
If our mandate is to proclaim the Good News every time we preach, then it is necessary to bring into vivid detail the amazing mercy of God. Here are three clear reasons why we should preach God’s mercy.
Preach God’s Mercy because it magnifies God’s faithful love.
God is always faithful in his love for his children. “The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love (hesed) and truth.” (Exod 34:6 CSB) This kind of love gives us great hope and comfort. Our great God will never forsake his children because his mercy is a fundamental part of his nature. Preach God’s mercy because it magnifies his never-ending, abounding, faithful love.
Preach God’s Mercy because it never runs out.
One of my favorite sentences in all of the Bible is Lamentations 3:22–23: “Because of the Lord’s faithful love (hesed) we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!” (CSB) The great hope of this passage speaks to everyone, in every aspect of life. No matter what you are going through, no matter how bad it is, you can rest assured His mercies are brand new every morning. Preach God’s mercy because there is great hope knowing His mercies never end.
Preach God’s Mercy because it is the epitome of the Gospel.
Finally, preach God’s mercy because it perfectly represents the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses.” (Eph 2:4–5) Dr. Glynn Stone, Senior Pastor of Mobberly Baptist Church, explains God’s mercy as “the removal of punishment to relieve the misery caused by sin. If the blood of Christ is good enough to satisfy the Father in relation to your sin then it should be good enough to satisfy you.” This is the purpose, passion, and plan of God.
God, through His mercy, sent Jesus to die on the cross to absorb His wrath so that the whole world can experience His great mercy. Pastor Trip Lee gave a great definition of mercy in terms of mankind showing mercy to each other. But the mercy of God goes deeper than we could have ever imagined. Using Pastor Lee’s analogy— “Mercy is when someone deserves to be slapped but you don’t slap them”—Jesus says, “The punishment is just; here slap me instead!”
Jesus took our place. We deserved death, but in his mercy, Jesus atoned for our sins. When the last “amen” rings on Sunday morning, everyone should have heard the message of God’s magnificent mercy.
Teddy Sorrells is the Pastor of Joy Baptist Church in Gladewater, Texas, and a DMin student in expository preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.