40-Day Devotional Guide & Study of
The Wonderful Names of Jesus
by Richard W. LaFountain
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Listen to Sermons on The Name
Hebrew: "checed" (kheh'-sed )
"My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdues my people under me." - Psalms 144:2
It should be obvious to Christians that there is no goodness in us at all. Even a quick reading of Romans should make that abundantly clear. God did not choose to save us because he saw something good in us. The fact that he chose to save us is pure mercy. None of us deserves heaven and we can't earn God's grace. In fact, Scripture is so clear on this point that Isaiah emphatically says, "All of our righteousnesses (that is, our best efforts and most sincere attempts to do right) are as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6) Apart from God we have no goodness in us at all. Until we realize that we cannot be saved. We will be trying to save ourselves by our own goodness. Among men only Jesus was good (without sin). Then when he died on the cross he died in our place. He died for us. He died so that his goodness might be given to us as a gift of God, and as an inheritance through Christ's death.
I love the words of some of the great hymns of faith that understood this principle. "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…" In our modern hymn books we have tried to look more worthy and the word "wretch like me" has been changed to such a "one as I." That loses the point. Until I see myself as a wretched sinner I will not flee to Christ to be clothed in his righteousness. Like the prodigal son, we all need to come to the end of our self-deception that there is some good in us, and see ourselves as "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" just as Jesus described the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3. (Rev. 3:15)
The word we are dealing with here is the Hebrew word, "checed." That word is often translated as mercy or kindness. It is a word God himself used to define his person and character to Moses and to the people of Israel after the Exodus. Observing how it is used in other passages helps us to understand it a little better. In Exodus 34:6 God reveals himself as, "The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,"
It requires the words "mercy" and "grace" to understand God's goodness. Without those two characteristics God may be seen as simply benevolent or kind to those who deserve kindness. But mercy and grace help us see his true GOODNESS.
Someone defined MERCY as "NOT getting what we deserve" (hell and damnation for our sins), and GRACE as "getting what we DON'T deserve" (the gift of forgiveness and everlasting life through Jesus Christ alone.)
The word is often used as a synonym for mercy. In fact it is this word "goodness" that David used over and over again when he said, "His mercy endures forever." (See also Psalm 107, 118:1,2,3,4, and 29, Psalm 136:1-26) So let it be our theme and our song through the ages that Jesus saves us through HIS MERCY by GRACE AND GRACE ALONE.
"O my soul, you have said to the LORD, 'You are my Lord: my goodness is nothing apart from you.'" - Psalms 16:2
Use in Scripture
- Exodus 20:6 And showing mercy unto you and of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
- Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will show mercy.
- Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
- Exodus 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
- 1 Chronicles 16:34 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endures for ever.
- Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Questions to Discuss
- Read the complete story of John Newton together as a group and discuss the word "wretched" as it pertains to your salvation.
- How has God's grace and goodness led you to repentance? Share your story.
- The Apostle Paul called himself "the chiefest of sinners." What do you call yourself?
- Who is the worst sinner you know. Join together in prayer for that man or woman's salvation through the grace and goodness of God.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
The story of John Newton, author of Amazing Grace is appropriate here:
Listen to it here on YouTube and read the story as it is sung.
Read John Newton's full story at
John Piper has an extended biography of John Newton
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