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Scripture Texts: John 3:16; Nehemiah 9:17

It should be obvious, to even the most casual observer, that the days in which we live are evidenced by chaos, compromise, confusion, complexity, and conflict. We read the daily newspapers, or watch the televison news reports, and we’re not always sure that what we read or hear can be honestly classified as the absolute truth. In many cases, it is the agenda, or opinion, of the owners or reporters of the specific news sources, and it is in complete contradiction to what they often know to be true. However, when it comes to every possible significant issue of time and eternity, we can depend entirely upon what God has to say. The history of mankind, and it’s relationship to their Creator, has proven the statement found in Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" Again in Hebrews 6:18, we read that "it was impossible for God to lie." In fact, were it possible for God to lie, then He would cease to be God.

There are many "religious extremists" throughout the world today who would like to kill every Christian, every Jew, every American, and destroy every Bible on earth. And they would do so under the guise of their so-called "religion". The extreme followers of this same fast-spreading, worldwide "religion", try to justify their terroristic activities by slaughtering thousands of innocent people, believing that their diabolical pursuits will immediately, or eventually, gain them a pleasure-filled eternity in their "paradise". What kind of a "god" do they worship? Well, there’s one thing sure, it is not the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, Who created all things, and Who upholds all things by the word of His power. Their "god" is the Devil, as the Lord Jesus Christ tells us in John 8:44, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."

Friend, the basic characteristic of the God that I worship, is that of LOVE! Millions of souls are in, or on their way to Heaven today, because of what God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, tells us in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." In I John 4, we read in both verses 8 & 16 that "God is LOVE." "God is LOVE." In that same chapter, we’re also told in verses 9 & 10, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Of course, there are many other scriptures which attest to the love of God to a world of spiritually-lost and perishing sinners, but I would remind you of what we’re told in Romans 5:8,9, "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him."

Now in our second scripture text, Nehemiah 9:17, we have several characteristics of God, which incidentally, are repeated almost word for word in Joel 2:13, and Jonah 4:2. But it is here in Nehemiah 9:17, that the priests and Levites stand up and remind the people of the goodness of God from eternity past, till their deliverance from their bondage in Egypt. And the first characteristic they mention is that, "Thou art a God that is ready to pardon". Friend, if God is ready to pardon us, then He must consider us as being guilty of some charge and under a sentence, or punishment. Well, over in Romans 3:19 we read, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become GUILTY before God." Sinner friend, you, and I, and everyone else have broken the laws of God, and the verdict is given in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

If you haven’t already done so, I’d suggest that you read verses 10 through 18 in Romans chapter 3. There we read the 14 indictments given by God against all mankind, and it’s not a pretty picture. We’ve all rebelled against the God of Heaven, and there is nothing that would commend us to God. We’ve all been born with a sinful nature, and we roll sin as a sweet morsel under our tongues. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. Our mouths are full of cursing, bitterness, and lies. There’s no apparent fear of God before our eyes, and we drink iniquity and sin as though they were water. Yes, from the top of our heads to the soles of our feet, we’re nothing but wounds and bruises and putrifying sores. And friend, if I were to sum it all up in one bold, derogatory expression of a God-given fact, I’d have to say that, "we’re nothing but sin, covered with skin!"

Friend, if you’re still unsaved, and if you ever get a glimpse of yourself, and realize how depraved you are in the sight of a Holy and righteous God, well, believe me, you’ll cry out to God for His salvation. Yes, you’ll want God to grant you a pardon when you face the reality of your guilt in His sight. Sinner friend, whether you realize it or not, God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, died on Calvary’s cross for your sins. Why? So that you can be pardoned; so that you can have eternal life; so that you can have fellowship with God and His Son for all eternity. Yes, God is ready to pardon you, me, and any other sinner who will acknowledge and repent of their sins. Over in Isaiah 55:7 we read, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will ABUNDANTLY PARDON." Friend, God is not only ready to pardon, but He is also willing and able to pardon abundantly. And it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re a big sinner or a little sinner, the abundant pardon is still the same, because the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.

In II Peter 3:9, we read these wonderful words of hope and assurance for all mankind, as rebel creatures of God, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Yes, the God of Heaven is ready, willing, and able to pardon any sinner who will repent of their sin, and trust in the finished work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, at Calvary’s cross.

That leads us to the next characteristic of God as revealed in our text, Nehemiah 9:17, and that is the fact that He is "gracious and merciful". In Ephesians 2: 4,5 we’re told, "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." Then in verses 8 & 9 we read these wonderful words, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." And the nice part about the "grace and mercy" of God, is the fact that they are available to anyone and everyone in the world today. In Titus 2:11 we read, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." Again, in Titus 3:5 we’re told, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us."

Friend, it doesn’t make any difference whether your nationality is Irish, Polish, Scottish, English, Spanish, Chinese, or Portugese; or if you’re a Moslem, Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Jew, or anything else: God’s GRACE and MERCY, expressed in the sacrificial death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is available to you today. Yes, and we’re told in Romans 11:32, "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." And the fact that you’re reading this message proves it! Friend, your reading of this Gospel message is not a coincidence either. No, God may be speaking to you for the very last time. Think about that!

There’s another thought that I’d like to bring before you regarding grace being a characteristic of God. As mentioned previously, in Romans 3:23 we have the result of the 14 indictments given by God against all mankind, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Now that’s what I would call "BAD NEWS". However, in the next verse, Romans 3:24, we have a truth brought before us that goes beyond my finite understanding, or comprehension. Here’s what we read, "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."

Friend, the word "justified", simply means that, in the sight of God, we are cleared of all guilt as though we had never sinned at all. Yes, if we really believe in our heart that God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, paid the price for our soul’s redemption, or salvation, by shedding His precious blood at Calvary’s cross, we go free, and we’ll be as sure of Heaven as though we were already walking the street of gold. Surely, God’s grace has abounded greater than our sin.

Something else we should know, is the fact that God’s grace and mercy are also still available to us, even after we have been saved by His grace and mercy. In Hebrews 4:16, we’re told that any Christian, who may have a specific need, has access to our Advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. Here’s what we read, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Yes, we have access to God’s presence because we are told in Ephesians 1:6,7 that "To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace."

Still another characteristic of God, as revealed in Nehemiah 9:17, is the fact the He is "slow to anger". Yes, God is "slow to anger". We think of how tolerant God was with our first parents, Adam and Eve. We think of how longsuffering God was with the antedeluvians, before the great flood, in Noah’s day. Then of course, we think of how patient God was with the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Yes, and time after time, when His chosen people, the Jews, murmured, complained, and rebelled against God in the wilderness, nevertheless, God was "slow to anger."

And I’m also sure, that in the case of every person saved by His sovereign grace and mercy, the God of Heaven displayed the characterization of being "slow to anger". In my own case, God allowed me to be in a state of open rebellion to His plan of salvation, until I was almost 31 years old. Yes, I knowingly trampled underfoot His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; but because God is "slow to anger", His marvelous, matchless "grace and mercy" prevailed, until I could resist Him no longer. So on June 2, 1952, after being convicted by the Holy Spirit and word of God, I acknowledged that I was a lost, guilty, and Hell-deserving sinner. I knew, though I was very religious, that I couldn’t do anything to save my own soul. I repented of my sins, and trusted in the sacrificial death of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I received Him, by faith alone, as my own and personal Saviour.

Friend, today, I’m only a sinner saved by the "grace and mercy" of God, but it was only because God was "slow to anger". Furthermore, I don’t profess to be any better than anyone reading this Gospel message, because all that I am, or ever hope to be, I claim through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, alone, and plus nothing! Yes, and someday soon, Lord willing, I’m going to see my Redeemer face to face. And then, with unsinning heart, and with Him alone, as the object of my affection, I’ll be able to worship Him in the beauty of holiness. And friend, my heart’s desire and prayer to God is that you, too, will come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. WHY? Because He is the One Who died for your sins at Calvary’s cross.

Well friend, our text, Nehemiah 9:17, continues by telling us that another characteristic of God is that He is "of great kindness". And how true that is! Yes, the fact that this is still the day of God’s grace, is evidence enough of His "great kindness". Friend, you could be like millions of others who sit in their churches week after week, yet never hear the truth of God’s word, relative to the fact that they are spiritually lost sinners who are perishing, and on their way to the place that the Lord Jesus Christ called "Hell". Many have never been told that they must be "born again", if they ever expect to spend eternity in Heaven. Yes, and countless preachers, priests, and rabbis will stand before God, and His Son, at the Great White Throne of Judgment, and they’ll be speechless, and unable to open their mouths in their own defense. And the Bible says that they’ll be without excuse! What a terribly sad scene that will be!

Yes, here they are in this life, and they stand in their pulpits, week after week, delivering an oration which reeks of pride, self exaltation, and gross secularism. Tell me friend, when was the last time your clergyman spoke about the ruin of man, the need for being saved or born again, or the wrath of God for Christ-rejecters? Friend, it is so sad, when you stop to think of the "great kindness" of God being expressed in the gift of salvation, and yet, countless millions throughout the world have never heard the real truth. And these poor souls will pass out of time into a lost eternity of pain and despair, without having been told of God’s "great kindness" expressed in the sacrificial and substitutionary death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on their behalf. They’ll wish that they had never been born. They’ll wonder what life was all about, and they’ll have all eternity to suffer the wrath of God, and to wonder why they hadn’t been told of the "great kindness" of God.

Well friend, you’re hearing the truth of God’s word today. Yes, I’m telling you, as best I can, and in love for your soul, how you can escape the flames of Hell, by simply trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Will you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour today? Will you let my Saviour become your Saviour too? Will you cast aside your pride, your religious activities, your so-called good works, and simply plead the blood of Jesus Christ? Well friend, you’ll never have a better opportunity to be saved and born again, than right NOW, while the Holy Spirit of God is striving for your soul. It really grieves me when I think of those who have been subjected to the "great kindness" of God, yet they’ve turned their back on a loving Creator, and the language of their heart is, "Give me just a little longer, for the world looks now so bright. WHEN  I  FEEL  THAT  I  AM  DYING,  I’LL  BE  SAVED,  BUT  NOT  TONIGHT!"

Friend, God warns in Proverbs 27:1, "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Yet, in Job 22:21 God promises, "Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee." Then we have that faithful admonition mentioned twice-over in Hebrews 3:15;4:7, "Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Friend, God is loving and kind, but He is also just, or righteous; and if you won’t accept the death of His Son as an atonement for your sins, then the only option you have, is that you’ll have to suffer for your own sins. It’s just that simple! But again I remind you that God is now ready to pardon; He is gracious and merciful; He is slow to anger; and He is of great kindness.

Now the last phrase of our text assures us that God will never forsake His own. Friend, if you trust Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, you will immediately become a child of God, and a joint heir with His Son. The Apostle Paul tells those of us who are saved, in Galatians 3:26, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." In John 6:37 we read, "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." Listen to these words of eternal security uttered by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 10:27-30, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one."

Well friend, I sure thank God today for His promise never to forsake His own. On the cross of Calvary, one of the utterances by the Lord Jesus Christ was, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Yes, He was forsaken, so that we might not be forsaken. He took the place of distance, so that we might be brought nigh to God.

Friend, you can have the promise of God, Who cannot lie, that if you accept His Son as your own and personal Saviour today, you will be sure of being in Heaven for all eternity. In the meantime, if you should die, or if you’re alive when the Lord comes again, you will immediately be in Heaven with the Lord. And I hasten to add that the next great event, on the prophetic calendar of God, is the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. There need be not one prophecy fulfilled before He comes to the air, to claim from the world, His own. Those who have accepted Him as their Saviour and Lord. He may come today! If not today, perhaps tonight! Are you ready, my friend? If not, why not?

Well, what more can I say? God is a God of love; He is ready to pardon the sinner; He is gracious and merciful; He is slow to anger; He has great kindness; and He will never forsake His own. He is now offering you eternal life in Heaven, IF you will accept His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as your own and personal Saviour. The decision is now up to you. And neutral, you cannot be! In Deuteronomy 30:19, God gives you the option with these words, "I call Heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."

Friend, I plead with you today, in love for your soul, and in view of eternity, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your own and personal Saviour. And if you do, the word of God, which cannot lie, says that you’ll be "saved", or "born again", not only for time, but for all eternity. And remember, my friend, this is for eternity! YES,  THIS  IS  FOR  ETERNITY !

Evangelist: Minor C. Hawk