Spiritual Life Development

Call to the Mercy Seat

“The Call to the Mercy Seat” is the third call of the International Spiritual Life Commission’s “12 Calls for Salvationists.” This call declares that “We call Salvationists worldwide to recognize the wide understanding of the mercy seat that God has given to the Army; to rejoice that Christ uses this means of grace to confirm His presence; and to ensure that its spiritual benefits are fully explored in every corps and Army center.” (Called to be God’s People, 1999)

Why should the mercy seat really matter in the spiritual life of Salvationists? The mercy seat is God’s idea! (Exodus 25:22) In the Bible, the mercy seat (Kapporet in Hebrew, meaning “atonement piece”) was a solid gold object, which rested upon the Ark of the Covenant that housed the Ten Commandments. It is evident that the mercy seat was a meeting place between God and His people.

Charles Finney writes that the origin of the modern mercy seat, formerly called the “mourner’s bench” or the “anxious seat,” is rooted in the context of the 19th –century revival movement, which greatly influenced England and the United States.

The mercy seat is also deeply connected in the spiritual and missiological heritage of The Salvation Army. Since the Army’s earliest days, the term “mercy seat” and “penitent form” were used interchangeably in worship settings. General Albert Orsborn said that “The hope of the Army is in the penitent form….The sign of the finger of God on the mercy seat is the crowning glory of God’s favor on The Salvation Army. The primary aim of Salvationists … must be the bringing of sinners to the mercy seat. Every meeting held, every program presented, every contact made must be a means to this end—the salvation of souls.”

Truly, Salvationists “affirm that the mercy seat in our meetings symbolizes God’s unremitting call to His people to meet with Him. It is not only a place for repentance and forgiveness, but also a place for communion and commitment. Here we may experience a deep awareness of God’s abundant grace and claim His boundless salvation. The mercy seat may be used by anyone, at any time, and particularly in Army meetings when, in response to the proclaimed word, all are invited to share loving and humble communion with the Lord.”

For more on this article, which includes discussion questions and Scripture references, and for the territorial prayer requests, go to www.armyonitsknees.org.

by Major Young Sung Kim

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