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Mercy And The Cross

Mercy And The Cross

One Hope One Boast Conference – Day 2 Session 2



To the measure we receive God’s mercy, that is the measure we can give mercy. In this session Stephen outlines how understanding our depravity and need for God puts his mercy on display.




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Mercy and the Cross



Psalm 8:“What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

  1. The first point to make about the Cross is that it simply happened. It was real, and it occurred in real time and space. The magnitude of the event itself, and its place in the history of linear time is astounding. To meditate upon the righteousness of God from the perspective of Him becoming a human like us, descending from glory, and then showing us the glory of laying down His life is truly marvelous. The fact that a mere mention of the Cross doesn’t stir the deepest wounds of gratitude within us signifies our hard-heartedness to the basic understanding of God’s mercy.

Col. 2:2-3- Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom knowledge.”

Eph. 1:10 “…the summing up of all things in Christ…”

1 Cor. 2:2 “I determined not to know anything among you except Christ and Him crucified.”

  1. Why is the Cross, and Christ crucified, rarely preached or talked about? Why is it not the primary focus of the songs we sing and the central theme which our lives revolve around? The wound of my life is to see a Cross or to read the crucifixion account, and no emotion whatsoever be stirred in my heart as if I am reading a fairy tale. The desensitization of culture, and Christian culture specifically, to what Paul calls “The Hidden Wisdom,” (1 Cor. 2:7) which is Messiah crucified, is simply tragic and actually keeps the glorious truth of the hidden wisdom, hidden. Admittedly, God in His wisdom has purposed to be shrewd to those who are shrewd, also keeping the hidden wisdom, hidden. “At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants,” (Mt. 11:25).
    1. We watch movies, with “messianic figures” in them and are moved nearly to tears, yet we don’t bat an eye through the precious last chapters in the Gospels. This should cause alarm within yourself, your family and the church at large. A convulsive alarm…
  2. Paul continues in 1 Corinthians that this mystery is only discerned by the spiritual, and through the Holy Spirit who searches the deep things of God it has been revealed to us. Let us disconnect ourselves at this time from the hindrances of things our eyes have seen over the last week, month or year, and let the Holy Spirit open the eyes of our hearts to see Messiah crucified during this teaching – our sole hope and righteousness.

Paul’s prayer in Eph. 1- Your eyes would be opened to see the hope of His invitation!



  1. Mercy- compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
    1. an event to be grateful for, esp. because its occurrence prevents something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering: his death was in a way a mercy.  (Mac’s definition even resounds the glory of Christ crucified!)
    2. [as adj. ] (esp. of a journey or mission) performed out of a desire to relieve suffering; motivated by compassion: mercy missions to refugees caught up in the fighting.



  1. Every man that has ever lived had one destiny because of Adam’s sin. Lake of Fire. Eternal Torment. Never-ending damnation. There was no other story and there was nothing that WE could do about it. We were drowning in a sea without shores, never to perhaps wash ashore to safety and be ok.

Psalm 49:7 No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him—

Psalm 89:48 What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah

  1. The natural state of the heart of man

Mark 7:20 “And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23“All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

'...BUT GOD'


  1. Ephesians 1
    1. 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.
    2. Eph 2: 1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, (HE) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and (HE) raised us up with Him, and (HE) seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (So, that in the age to come you might simply sit in awe for millennia wondering how this could have been for YOU!!!)


a)    Col 2:13When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14having (HE) canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and HE has taken it out of the way, having (HE) nailed it to the cross. 15When HE had disarmed the rulers and authorities, HE made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

  1. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

a)     Can a dead man boast? Can a dead person brag? Can a dead person lift himself off the floor? Can a dead person feed himself? Wash himself? Give himself something to drink? This is why the embodiment of death as a whole in the lake of fire, is that you are actually dead, though alive forever, unable to do anything for yourself.

  1. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (demand of mercy, practical outworking of faith).
  2. To fully encapsulate our sin upon the Cross and to become like us in every manner, Jesus embodied our position of being dead with His “death” upon the Cross (this is the fundamental idea of substitution and vicarious atonement) and then was resurrected to life to signify we may be given new life at the resurrection from the dead. The picture is seen perfectly in Christ crucified- “the veil is removed in Christ,” (2 Cor. 3:14).
  3. Revelation 1:5 “To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— 6and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father”
    1. We were peasants begging outside the gate without by-passers able to give us anything to eat. We were Lazarus, and the dogs were licking our sores. BUT GOD.



  1. Imagine the eeriness of twilight at the first Passover. All across Egypt could be heard the bleating of hundreds of thousands of sheep as they were being pinned down for their slaughter. Think, when every man could look down his street and see the man of every house, holding the lamb’s head in one hand, and a knife in the other as he prepared to execute the animal. And as the earth turned and the sun disappeared the sheep’s wool would glisten in that strange light of twilight and they would silence the bleating animal with a single stroke. Then, after draining its blood into a bowl they would go and apply the blood over the door of the house and have faith that when God walked by later that night, He wouldn’t kill their firstborn.
    1. Exodus 12:13 “The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
    2. This is God’s idea of the substitutionary lamb. God decreed that the firstborn in the land of Egypt would die; barring none. God would not intervene upon His decree with favoritism, nor would He break His word. He would only look upon the substitutionary lamb’s blood upon the doorpost and then pass over a particular house because the lamb that had been slain had become the substitute for the firstborn in that household.



  1. Ephesians 2:11-22
  2. Romans 9:1-4
    1. Romans 11:30 – “For just as you were once disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also might be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He might show mercy to all.”
  3. Grafting into the Tree = Gentile grafting into the Messianic Timeline
  4. Matt. 15- Syrophoenician Woman- You interpreted the Messiah, Israel, and yourself rightly. You are a dog, with no promise of Messiah. Israel was given the food, however; you are allowed to eat the food if you approach with humility and because you’ve humbled yourself, you are now grafted into the promise by faith in the Jewish Messiah.
  5. Mephibosheth




  1. The mercy that we have been shown on the Cross demands that we forsake all other “callings” in the wake of our true calling to show mercy as we have been shown.
  2. This is where the church is in a crisis. We have the strong voice of, “required for salvation is merely having faith in the atonement…” which is basically a rhetoric of ‘once saved always saved’- it’s a piece of the pie, but not the whole pie. But, we have James that says, “faith without works is dead,” in the very context of giving mercy! (James 2:13 “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy.”)  So, faith in the atonement, combined with the outworking or product of your faith, is proof that you believe in the atonement. Jesus hinges this upon mercy we show to others, making it a salvation contingent issue.
  3. Since the fundamental nature of the Cross is that a man died for you in order that you don’t have to, if you don’t then respond by giving this same substance of mercy, your faith is dead. The evidence of your faith in the atonement is fundamentally shown by the mercy you give.
    1. Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

a)    If you show mercy, you will be shown mercy on the day of the Lord and you will inherit the kingdom. This is why there is an all-encompassing DEMAND upon Christians to be merciful and show mercy, because we should ALL still be dead in our sins but are not. Mercy is the fundamental initiation of God unto salvation for all who believe in the mercy of the Cross, receive what His Son did and give mercy freely to anyone who would be their friend, neighbor and especially enemy, because the enemy camp is where we all resided before Christ.

  1. Matt 18- Parable of the unmerciful servant.

a)    “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.”

  1. If on the night of Passover, you as a firstborn son simply stayed in your house “believing” that you would be saved from the promise of death, you would have been smitten. The condition was that the blood be applied to the door. This signified your faith in the substitutionary lamb. Likewise, on the Day of the Lord, if you simply have believed that you would be saved, but you did not apply the blood to your life (giving mercy as you were given) your faith will be found dead and you will be smitten! Consider the Pharisees who knew everything and believed in the Messiah, yet the Messiah’s accusation against them was that they did not do what they believed. As Christians, there is a bounty of mercy upon our heads because of the mercy that has been given through the Cross, and if we do not give freely as we have been given, God in His righteousness has to call that bounty to be paid on the Day of the Lord.
  2. Jesus makes it simple for us in His equation of mercy with forgiveness. Forgiving someone, releasing them from their offense, and loving them regardless of what they’ve done.



  1. Beloved, there is another Passover coming and it’s called the Day of the Lord. The Great Passover, if you will. This time the Lord isn’t going to covertly pass through the land and kill the firstborn at night. After plagues very similar to the ones released in Egypt, seemingly released by the two witnesses that will be prophesying until they are killed and raised up to God, there will come the crescendo of redemptive history. The sky will open up as a scroll and men will see God the Son descending through the heavens. His eyes of fire will search again for blood, the blood that He Himself shed, and upon those whose heads He finds it an immediate resurrection will take place and those will meet Him in the clouds. However, upon those whom the blood is not found there may be something likened to the sound of bleating sheep at twilight (the tribes of the earth will mourn Rev. 1:7)… in the hands of their executioner (Psalm 110:6). The tribes of the earth will mourn just as the sheep did on Passover, and this time it will be their blood that is spilled and not His, and they will be dashed to pieces as the potter’s vessels (Ps.110). This is the righteousness of God.
  2. The mercy of the Cross is a simple mercy. We have simply been told how to avert this great destruction, this horrendous judgment–we simply apply the blood of Jesus to the doorposts of ourselves. Our bodies. Our hearts, our minds, our souls. We apply His blood, and then we live in a way not to spill it again through fleshly pursuit, or unmerciful lifestyles, but in reverence of His mercy, in awe of His grace, esteeming always His majestic gift to mankind. The character of God is that always within judgment there is this hope of His mercy. So it is with the Cross… within the fiery torrent and expectation of eternal punishment in a lake of fire is the means for man to escape if he will simply cast Himself upon that object of mercy. It is in clinging to the bleeding feet of our Master dying on the Crossbeam that the helpless child left beaten and wounded by the world at large finds comfort, yes, and eternal justification in those drops of blood. So, it is that we must become converted to this childlikeness (Matt. 18), this desperation–in total hopelessness if separated from those bleeding feet! May we always find ourselves there with all of our attention directed to this King of Glory, as he willingly succumbs Himself to a human death and embodies mercy before our eyes. It is here that we define mercy… It is here that we understand grace… at the foot of the Cross, with the feet of our Savior clasped lovingly in our hands to weep perpetual tears of gratefulness for the great gift we have been given, though we were dead. Though we did nothing to attain it. Though there was no philosophy that could reward us with it. There was no human knowledge that could lead us to it. Truly hopeless, utterly helpless, God was mindful of man and initiated our redemption from within Himself. To see the Cross in any other way is to dilute its glory. To add to this mercy is to boast in works, in which the fiery torrent awaits such as these. It is great vanity pitted against great mercy to do so. Since all men are foolish, it pleased God that through foolishness the means of the Cross be made apparent. The uncircumcised gentile has received a circumcision of the heart; a circumcision that cannot be undone- so stop regarding man whose breath is in his lungs! All things have now been made ours in Christ so do not be taken captive through the empty philosophy of vain men and let no one defraud you of your prize in the free mercy of Christ crucified. Freely we have received, freely we should give for it is for LIBERTY that Christ has set us free.


Stephen Holmes (18 Posts)

Stephen Holmes is a missionary pastor who lives with his wife and three kids in various nations seeking to give a faithful witness of the Gospel to the Jew first and also to the Gentile through Bible Teaching, Preaching, Song and Discipleship.

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