Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Just/Justice

I am always amazed at the names that we use to give our children or leaders.  During biblical times name carried an idea as to the character of the individual such as James and John being the “Sons of Thunder.”  Of course this means their dad was Thunder.  What a nickname.  I can hear it now “don’t look now boys but here comes Thunder” or “I hope Thunder don’t find out.”  It sounds more like a wrasslin name (that’s wrestling before it went Hollywood).  Anyway we are never told why he was called Thunder; was it his commanding voice or his loud raucous laughter or maybe even a violent temperament we will never know. 

Then we have Edward Longshanks better known today as the antagonist or visa versa of William Wallace (think Brave Heart).  (It’s sorta like the war of northern aggression… it depends on which side of the fence your on but I digress).  Anyway, it seems he was called Longshanks due to his unusual height.  Yet when we think of God we rarely think of Him or call Him “God the Just” but that is exactly who He is, Just.  We may in a study of “the names of God” give this a glancing look but not much more.

Webster’s 1828 states of Just:

      The virtue which consists in giving to every one what is his due; Impartiality or Equity [and carries the idea of] Vindictive retribution or merited punishment.

Now we have to acknowledge that this is the unpleasant side of God if I can put it that way.  Especially since we most often think of God as a benevolent father type and it is certainly accurate to ascribe this trait to Him as well but that view is only part of who He actually is. 

Justice in terms of God is His fair and impartial treatment of all people.  The justice of God is a necessary result of His holiness or moral excellence. Since God is infinitely and eternally perfect, He must be impartial in His judgments and always treat His creatures with equity.  Or as Abraham stated... Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you!  Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Ge 18:25).

Of necessity for God to be Just He must also be omniscient or all knowing.  He must not only know what we did but also the intent of why we did what we did… and He does 1 Chron 28:9; Heb 4:12.  And while many may say they want justice from God they do so from an inflated ego not knowing their true self (Jer 17:9).  Of this position James Boice states:

Mercy or Justice - It has always been my experience that those who have not yet believed in Christ react in one of two ways at the thought of God's judgment. Some simply refuse to believe it. They think quite wrongly, I believe, that judgment is inconsistent with God's character. "God is love," they argue; "how can a loving God condemn anyone?" The answer to this view is that God's love is not inconsistent with his judgment and that, whatever we may think about the matter, the Bible quite obviously speaks of these two themes as compatible.

The other objection is more dangerous. These persons believe that it is somehow ignoble of themselves to receive salvation through Christ. To receive salvation in this way is to depend on God's mercy or grace, and they would far rather deal with God's justice. "I don't want mercy from God," they will say. "All I want is a fair shake. I just want justice."

I pity the person who wants nothing from God but justice. The justice of God? The justice of God will send a person to hell; the justice of God will never save him. Justice condemns! It is only the grace of God in Jesus Christ that pardons and makes alive.

But God’s justice is not set aside for the believer; His justice must be satisfied and it is only through the work and person of Jesus Christ.  Christ expiates (atones) our sin and guilt in that our guilt is imputed to His account.  As a result God is propitious toward us having had His wrath appeased and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to our account.  Therefore we are justified before God not on account of our own merit but upon His, The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).

No comments: