Salvation: Merit or Mercy? – Gospel in Life

Salvation: Merit or Mercy?

Tim Keller |  December 7, 1997

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  • Mercy & Justice
  • Salvation
Matthew 22:1-14
RS 85-2


George Gallup recently released a poll that asked Americans what would be the biggest issues they faced when they died. The poll showed that 42 percent (or almost half) of Americans said one of the things they were very concerned about was whether God would forgive them or not. Let’s face it, we all need mercy.

The good news is that the kingdom of God runs completely on mercy – not merit. How does this work? How does the mercy of God come to us? Today’s passage tells us the mercy of God comes to us in three forms and in three ways: as a call, as a covering, and as a feast.

Matthew 22:1–14

Jesus’ story of the wedding feast shows us that God’s kingdom is based on kindness, not on what we deserve. It’s about a king who invites everyone to his party, no matter if they’re good or bad. But, he kicks out a guest who didn’t dress appropriately. This story tells us that God’s kindness shows in three ways: an invitation, a change of clothes, and a feast, reminding us that even good people need God’s forgiveness.

1. Kindness is an invitation

The story of the King’s party warns us about getting too comfortable in our religion. The people who were first invited to the party didn’t come because they were too busy or didn’t care. This story shows that getting into God’s party isn’t something we decide for ourselves, it’s because of God’s kindness. It’s a warning for those struggling with their faith and a comfort for those worried about staying faithful, reminding us that our wants and worries are given to us by God, and it’s through His kindness that we find peace.

2. Kindness is a transformation

Christmas is all about Jesus, who has always been there, but his teachings can be hard for us to understand because they’re so different from what we’re used to. In the story of the wedding feast, Jesus invites everyone, showing us that we need to respect God. But the story also challenges the idea that everyone is accepted no matter what, suggesting we need to change and truly believe in God’s kindness, instead of just going through the motions.

3. Kindness is a feast

Being saved is a gift from God, not a prize for being good. Thinking we’re better than others can actually push us away from God, because we forget to be thankful for His gifts. True freedom comes from understanding that being saved is about kindness and Jesus’ work, a truth that can bring happiness even when things are tough.



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