Thank the Lord that in the love of God, there is not only grace, but another great item as well, God’s mercy. The Bible puts much emphasis on mercy also. But we have to admit that mercy is more particularly an Old Testament word, in the same way that grace is more particularly a New Testament word. This does not mean that you will not find mercy in the New Testament. But if you have a cross-reference Bible or a concordance, you will find mercy in the Old Testament far more frequently. Mercy is something of the Old Testament, in the same way that grace is something of the New Testament.
The outlet of love is either grace or mercy. Mercy is negative, and grace is positive. Mercy is related to the present condition, and grace is related to the future condition. Mercy speaks of the poverty of your present condition, and grace speaks of the bright condition that you will be saved into in the future. The feeling that God has toward us when we are sinners is mercy. The work that God does upon us to make us the children of God is grace. Mercy arises from our existing condition; grace arises from the work that we will receive.
I do not know if you are clear about this or not. Suppose there is a destitute person here with us. You love him and have pity upon him. You feel sorry for his difficult situation. If you did not love him, you would not suffer and grieve for him. But by doing so, you are having mercy on him. But such mercy is negative. Your mercy on him is in sympathy for his present condition. But when is grace accomplished? It is accomplished when this person is rescued today out of his poor condition to a new position, to a new realm and a new environment. Only then does your love to him become grace. This is why I say that mercy is negative and for today, while grace is positive and for the future. The future I am talking about is the future in this age, rather than the future in the coming age. I do not mean that the Old Testament speaks only about mercy. The Old Testament speaks about grace, too. It is not true that we no longer need mercy. No, we still need mercy. God was merciful in the time of the Old Testament, because His work was not yet completed. Therefore, the Old Testament was full of mercy. God showed mercy for four thousand years. But today, in the New Testament age, we have grace because the Lord Jesus has accomplished His work. He has come to bear our sins. Hence, what we have received today is not mercy, but grace. Hallelujah! Today is not a day of mercy, but a day of grace.
If there were only mercy, we could only have hope. In the Old Testament, there was only hope; hence, the Old Testament speaks of mercy. But thank the Lord, today we have obtained what was hoped for. There is no need to hope for it anymore.
Mercy comes from love and issues in grace. If mercy has not come from love, it will not issue in grace. Since it originates in love, it arrives at grace. In the Gospels there is the account of a blind man receiving his sight (Mark 10:46-52). When he met the Lord, he did not say, "Lord, love me!" or "Lord, be gracious to me!" Rather, he said, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" (v. 48). He asked for mercy because of his present condition, his present difficulty, and his present pain. He knew that if the Lord Jesus were to sympathize with him, He would not stop at showing mercy to him; He would surely do something.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)