“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” —Romans 12:1
Most of us can recite Romans 12:1 from memory. It is the apostle Paul’s chief exhortation in what is often called his greatest letter. But our familiarity with the words of this command can lead us to overlook a small but crucial phrase: “by the mercies of God.”
This phrase is far more profound than we often realize. By it, the apostle reminds us that a life of acceptable worship—a life of giving oneself to God as a living and holy sacrifice—is not achieved by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. To the contrary, a life of acceptable worship is only the effect of a prior cause. A life of acceptable worship is motivated by a more fundamental reality.
Paul identifies this more fundamental reality as “the mercies of God.” The word for “mercies” emphasizes pity or compassion. It highlights God’s concern over our miserable plight as sinners. This divine compassion is what motivates us to offer our lives as living sacrifices in response.
But what is even more noteworthy is that this phrase, “the mercies of God,” is not just an abstract idea. By it, Paul summarizes the contents of the previous eleven chapters of his letter to the Romans. Ultimately, “the mercies of God” is the summary phrase representing all the great salvation doctrines expounded by Paul in Romans 1–11, and includes such truths as righteousness, justification, faith, adoption, union, sanctification, and glorification.
Thus, Paul does not motivate us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices by pointing to all the things we need to do. He motivates us instead by pointing to all the things that God has done for us in the gospel. In fact, this is the common approach in the rest of Paul’s writings. Before prescribing the commands, he describes what has already been achieved. Before giving imperatives, he provides the indicatives. Understanding this cause and effect relationship is crucial to the Christian life.
On Wednesday, September 4, Men of the Word will begin a year-long series focused on these “mercies of God.” Each Wednesday evening will focus on one key component of salvation. The goal is to provide clear, biblical definitions for such terms as election, atonement, propitiation, calling, regeneration, faith, justification, adoption, preservation, and glorification. Attention will be focused on showing how a more accurate understanding of these gospel truths will generate a more sincere life of worship.
Men of all ages are invited to join us Wednesdays in the Worship Center as we embark on a comprehensive study of what is most precious to us—the gospel of our salvation.
Evening of Prayer
Q & A
No Meeting (Shepherds' Conference)
No Meeting (Easter)
No Meeting (Men's Conference)