All Bow Down Because of God's Tender Mercy

Steve Viars December 19, 2009 Luke 18:9-15, 35-43

- In his book Desiring God, John Piper poses the question, Is God like Uncle Sam?...

- he’s referring to the war posters some of us saw growing up…with a picture of Uncle Sam, representing our government pointing his finger at the reader saying – I want a few good men…

- in other words, not just anyone should enlist in military service..

- you have to have the right education…

- you have to have the proper eyesight…

- you have to be able to do so many push-ups…etc…

- so, not just anyone can enlist…I want a few good men…

- now, we have several military recruiters in our church---we’re certainly glad that there are requirements for entry to military service for obvious reasons…

- but that’s not the question…we’re asking – is God like Uncle Sam?...do you come to Him only if you meet the qualifications?...

- Piper said it like this—The difference between Uncle Sam and Jesus Christ is that Uncle Sam won’t enlist you in his service unless you are healthy and Jesus won’t enlist you unless you are sick.  “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).  (John Piper, Desiring God, p. 171).

- The reason that is important for our consideration this morning is that the musical you’ll hear in a few moments is called---All Bow Down…

- the point is that we bow down to Jesus Christ in part because of our profound acknowledgement of our need for mercy…

- if God just accepts a few good men, we’re in trouble…

- but if He offers mercy for those who are not very good, there’s hope…

- the question is – which one are you?...

- we should All Bow Down Because of God’s Tender Mercy

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to Luke 18….page 62 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- in this passage, Jesus is involved in a couple of events that helps us see the importance of coming to you as individuals who acknowledge our need for mercy…

- read Luke 18:9-15, 35-43

- please think with me about 3 lessons about the mercy of God.

I. Some People Don’t Believe They Need Mercy.

- that’s the point of this first story we read…

- Luke 18:11-12 - The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.”

- see, there it is – God is like Uncle Sam – He needs a few good men, and I just happen to be one of them…so my relationship with Him is dependent on my own righteousness…

- I don’t need anything from Him…I have something to give Him…

- which is why I’m standing up, not bowing down…

- now, the fact of the matter is – that describes many people in our culture…

- there won’t be a lot of genuine bowing down at the manger of Bethlehem because there isn’t an acknowledgement of our profound sense of need…

- as the average man on the street if he thinks he’s going to heaven (I hope/think so)…

- why? (because I’m a good person…develop)…

- that goes along with the verse from Mark that John Piper quoted… Mark 2:17 - It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

- a second lesson we can learn from this chapter is…

II. Some People Don’t Believe You Should Admit Your Need for Mercy to Others Even if You Have It.

- the blind man at the end of this text was shouting for mercy because he knew Christ was his only hope…

- but what was curious is that the people who were present were shushing him…

- Luke 18:39 - Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

- what’s that about?...we don’t talk about religion…keep a stiff upper lip…not of this “crying out for help” business…

- they too wouldn’t be doing any bowing down because it was beneath them to admit their need or see anyone else acknowledge how they fell short…

- you may have had a few people shush you over the years when you expressed concern about whether you truly had a relationship with God…

- what’s the real point of all of this?...

III. God is Pleased with Those Who Cry Out for Mercy.

- forget the pretension…forget the self-righteousness…

- anyone who understands the holiness of God…and who is honest about the true nature of man – it’s time to cry out – big time, regardless of who hears us…

A. In Salvation.

1. The tax collector. 

Luke 18:13-14 - But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

2. The blind man

Luke 18:38 - And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Luke 18:39 - Those wh led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Luke 18:41-43 - “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!”And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.

- friend, can I ask you this am, has there ever been a definite time in your life when you admitted your need for the mercy of God?

- this is a central part of the Christmas message…

- Luke 1:46-50 - And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord,And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.“For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.“And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him.

- [illustration – Aunt Gloria, last Christmas – God Bless you, Stevie…I bet you’re surprised to hear me say that…at her funeral, a pastor with a more liturgical background, must have 100 times “have mercy on us….”]

B. In our daily growth

Lamentations 3:22-23 - It is ofthe LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.They arenew every morning: greatis thy faithfulness.

- now let’s go to the manger and bow down, because we recognize our great need for God’s tender mercy

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video