So what is the difference between the love, mercy, and grace of God and Gods justice and judgement for sin and how do they reveal Gods' love? We read in Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;).” This is such a wonderful scripture because it combines all three: Paul says that God is rich in mercy, and because of His great love for us, He saves us by grace. What is the love of God? Well, God is love * 1 John 4:16. Before anything was created, God was love. Love is the nature of God; Love is Gods' character and who God is. But the interesting thing is that the love of God never saved a sinner. The love of God (his character) moved God into action to give all who would receive it His love, expressed through His mercy and grace.
What is the difference between mercy and grace? “Mercy…is that in God which duly provided for the need of sinful man.” God is rich in mercy *Ephesians 2:4. Why is He rich in mercy? Because He is love and loves us because God is love. He, by His mercy, provided for the need of sinful man. But mercy didn’t save man. It is Gods' great love for man that leads to Gods' mercy and forgiveness of sins. We are all sinners who cannot provide anything to God. We haven’t anything to offer to Him. But grace means that God can come to you and me, as lost sinners, and say, “I am love, and I am rich in mercy. I love you, and I have provided by My mercy and a Savior for you.” Now if you will trust Him, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Salvation all stems from the love of God, but God does not save by His love or His mercy he saves us because He loves us. According to the scriptures the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) all we have without Gods' love is sin and death. In fact sin is the opposite of what God is and it is written our God is a consuming fire to sin ( see Hebrews 12:29 compare with Hebrews 10:26-31). So all sin is destroyed in the presence of God. But God is love and according to the scripture we see Gods' love also demonstrated in Gods' justice for sin.
According to the scriptures, sin is defined as the transgression of anyone of God's 10 commandments (1 see Exodus 20:3-17; 1 John 3:4; James 2:10-11; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7) and all of us have sinned *Romans 3:9-23 and the wages of sin is death *Romans 6:23 but God so loved our world that he gave us his only begotten son to die the death that we all deserve to die, to pay our penalty of death so that whosoever believes on His should not perish but have everlasting life *John 3:16. So even in Gods' judgement and justice for sin we see Gods' love given to all mankind by sending His only begotten son receive Gods' justice and judgement for sin so that everyone who simply holds out the hand of faith can receive Gods' forgiveness of sins because Jesus purchased them through His death so that we no longer have to die. God's love, mercy, grace, justice and judgement therefore are all revealed and given to us through Jesus as Gods' sinless lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world *John 1:29 so that whosoever believes better translated as "believing" on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
There is something else here that is important to see. Salvation is not only the expression of the love of God, but it is also an expression of His justice and righteousness. We not only need John 3:16, but we also need Romans 3:26: “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.” In order to justify you when you trust Christ, God has to be righteous and holy and just. He cannot simply open the back door of heaven and slip you in under cover of darkness. You and I are not fit for heaven. We are alienated from Him. We have no fellowship with Him. Communication broke down in the Garden of Eden, and He is the one who renewed it. Because He must be just and righteous, His mercy provided a Savior, and it was because He loves you. He can be righteous and do this — “that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.” Therefore, John can write, “Grace be with you [that is the way God saves you], mercy [mercy provided a Savior], and peace [when you have all this, then the peace of God that passeth all understanding is going to keep your heart].”
God love leads us to Gods mercy and grace, justice and judgement for sin. Gods' Grace and mercy is a free gift of Gods' great love for you and me. There is nothing we can do to earn it. It is a free gift to you as a sinner and God's love simply tells you to hold out your hand of faith and receive His gift of love and forgiveness for your sins through the gift of Gods' dear son in Jesus. Go now confess your sins before God and receive his gift of mercy, love and forgiveness that he paid for by His life, death and resurrection so that you believing in Jesus should never perish but receive Gods' gift of love and everlasting life *John 3:16; John 3:36; 1 John 1:9; Ephesians 2:8-9.
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
1. BELIEVE GOD'S WORD AND ACCEPT JESUS AS YOUR PERSONAL SAVIOUR FROM SIN -
That is believe better translated "believing" the Word of God. Jesus is the living Word of God (see John 1:1-4; 14) and it is by believing Gods' Word that we have Gods' salvation and forgiveness of sins and everlasting life (see John 17:17; John 3:16-36) Acts of the Apostles 16:30-31 And he brought them out and said "Sirs. what must I do to be saved? So they said "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your household"
2. CONFESS YOUR SINS -
Confess your sins to God and ask God for His forgiveness because of Jesus paying the penalty for your sins through His death on the Cross. Accept Gods' free gift of forgiveness through faith in Jesus and His death and shed blood for your sins and believe His promise to you. 1 John 1:9 , If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
3. REPENT OF YOUR SINS -
We cannot expect to receive Gods' forgiveness if we continue in practice known unrepentant sin. In order to receive Gods' forgiveness we need to repent of our sins. That is in heart (mind) turn away from practicing sin and live a new life believing and following what Gods' Word says. God will give us the power to walk in newness of life as we completely believe and depend on His Word and promises to change our lives and hearts so we can follow him. Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Acts of the Apostles 8:22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
4. GET BAPTIZED -
Baptism is symbolic outward experience that we are to die to the old sinful nature to live in newness of life believing and following what God's Word says (Romans 6:1-23; Romans 3:31; Romans 8:1-4) it is a sign of Gods' new covenant promise of obedience to Gods' law through faith that works by love and is Gods' work in us as we continue believing and following his Words and believing His promises and are born again to walk in His Spirit by faith (see Hebrews 8:10-12 from Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:24-27; John 3:3-7 compare 1 John 3:4-9; John 17:17: John 6:63; Galatians 5:16). Act of the Apostles 2:38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5. SEEK FIRST FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS -
Our lives now are Gods' and we are to walk in newness of life as we believe and follow what Gods' Word says. We are now God's children purchased with the precious blood of Jesus redeemed to walk in newness of life and holiness letting God save us from our sins. Now when we have problem we can go to God who is our Heavenly father who knows our needs even before we ask Him. Of course receiving Gods' promises are conditional on believing and following what Gods' Word says (Proverbs 28:9; 13) All God asks us is to put him first in our lives and continue believing and following His Word and seeking Him through His Word (see John 8:31-36). Prayer is your strength go and pray to your father in Heaven for all things and talk to him as your best friend. We may not always receive what we ask for but that is because God as your heavenly father knows what we need and sometimes what we want is not always best for us like a baby wanting to play with a shiny razor blade trust that God knows what is best for you. Matthew 6:33 , But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Ask God to be your guide and teacher and to teach you His truth and claim His promises. God wants to be your teacher and will send you His Spirit to guide and teach you if you ask Him (see John 16:13; John 7:17; John 14:26; 1 John 3:27; Hebrews 8:11).
6. GROW IN THE FAITH IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S WORD -
When we first become "believing" Christians we are called "babes" in Christ because we do not know much about Gods' Word and the scriptures tell us "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him." - Colossians 2:6. We are to continue in the faith learning more about Gods' Word and believing and following what Gods' Word says and believing His promises. 1 Peter 1:2-8 , Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, , According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue: , Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. , And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; , And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; , And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. , For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Beware of false teachings made by men to lead you away from God and His Word. Ask God to be your guide and teacher and to teach you His truth and claim His promises. God wants to be your teacher and will send you His Spirit to guide and teach you if you ask Him (see John 16:13; John 7:17; John 14:26; 1 John 3:27; Hebrews 8:11).
7. WHEN TEMPTATION COMES MAKE GOD YOUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH -
When we first become Christians the devil will do all that he can to lead you back into sin and away from God and His Word to make you depart the faith. Fear not for God promises if you trust him and believing His promises to you that no one can pluck you out of His hand (see John 10:26-27). Draw near to God and prayer and he promises to draw near to you and pray when temptation comes God will help you (see Matthew 6:13). James 4:7-8 , Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. , Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. 1 Corinthians 10:13 "There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it." We will continue to have temptations to the end so put on the whole armor of God and trust that God can help and deliver you when temptation comes. James 1:12 , Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him. If you fall into temptation and sin fear not but continue believing God's Word and confess your sins to God. It is not Gods' will that we sin but if any man sin we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:1-2; Proverbs 24:16)
God loves you. May God bless you as you seek Him through His Word.