QUESTION: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MERCY AND GRACE?
Study References: Lamentations 3:22-23, John 1:17
Mercy and grace are two vital Christian terms whose meanings are often misunderstood. In summary, mercy is God not punishing us as our sins deserve (deliverance from judgement), while grace is God blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it.
Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
King David sought this mercy in Psalm 51:1-2 in confessing his sin: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin." Despite his many failures, David asked God to relent and not bring upon him the full consequences of his sin.
According to the Bible in Romans 3:23; we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. As a result of that sin, we all deserve death (Romans 6:23) and eternal judgment in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-15). With that in mind, every day we live is an act of God's mercy. If God gave us all what we deserve, we would all be, right now, condemned for eternity.
Grace, on the other hand, is God extending favor toward us that we do not deserve. Ephesians 2:8 state that, it is by grace you have been saved." God's salvation comes from His grace. Some describe grace as unmerited or unearned favor.
In theology, two kinds of grace are often distinguished. Common grace is defined as God's grace given to all humanity regardless of their response to Him. This can include the beauty of creation, the provision of food and other essentials, and every good thing that happens to a person regardless of whether the person is a believer or unbeliever.
Saving grace is grace from God that provides salvation to a person. This is the grace described in Ephesians 2:8-9 that states, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Both perfect mercy and perfect grace are found in Jesus Christ. Through His sacrifice on the cross, He has provided a way of escape or mercy from the consequences of sin (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). God has extended grace by providing salvation and proclaiming salvation to us through the Son, His teaching in Scripture, and through the Spirit of God at work among us.