Gracious Justice

What is justice?

Where does it come from?

Who decides if something is just or unjust?

I remember my senior year of high school like it was 10 years ago…because it was. But I remember one night, it was late, and I was trying to get home from a band concert (please do not judge me. It was cool, I promise). I could not find my phone anywhere, I knew my parents would not be happy that I lost it and I had one more place to look…the band hall. I put my car in what I thought was reverse and hit the gas. Only to discover that what I thought was reverse was really drive. It only took seconds for this to become known. BAM!!!! I hit a pole. The front of my car was so banged up it was not funny. I found myself a little lost. You see my phone was still lost, and now I wrecked my car.justiceofgod

My parents had a moment to decide how to handle this situation. I called them from my friend’s phone and told them the story, probably through tears. That was how I operated in high school. Justice would have been for them to yell and make me drive that wrecked car for weeks till I could pay for it (and with my $10 a week it actually probably would have taken years to fix it).

Instead, my parents picked love and grace. They chose to calmly respond, and in their time, which was quite quickly, they fixed my car. When I found my phone they where happy. Life moved on.

At the time I saw this as a moment where my parents where “cool.” Now thinking about it, I see it as a moment where my parents could have found justice in making me live with the consequence of my actions and instead chose their own form of justice (which I was totally grateful for and still am learning all the moment had to teach me).

God’s justice is a lot like this moment. Truth is, I should have had to drive that car around and explain to everyone what happened. Live in my shame of wrecking a great car. The bigger truth is I deserve hell; I deserve to die for my sin. Yet God sent his son to die in my place and pay for sins he did not commit, so that one day I could spend eternity with him in heaven.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:16-19

What is the justice?

This justice is love greater than we can think through. This justice is grace that knows no ends. This justice is patience that we will never be able to give; yet God so graciously gives it to us.

I love how verse 19 puts it, “This is the verdict.” It is simple from this point on, live in the justice that God has so graciously given to us in his Son Jesus.

About the Writer:
Liz, just a girl who spends her days in seminary classes, spends her afternoons interning with First Baptist Dallas Women’s, spends her evenings with her friends laughing and challenging the definition of community to be something much deeper. If you need her you can probably find her watching Dancing with the Stars while on Pinterest, challenging the worldly norm of a 28 year old.

Alternative Solution

Right now our pastor is leading us through a sermon series entitled, “Not All Roads Lead to Heaven: Sharing an Exclusive Jesus in an Inclusive World.” In a society that places such a high value on God’s love, grace and inclusiveness; the word justice often has harsh connotations. I too rejected the fullness of the Bible’s Good News for a season because I didn’t like and couldn’t wrap my mind around why a loving God would make such an issue of pointing out my depravity and imperfections, nor did I want to take full responsibility that my choices had consequences. Basically, I continually disregarded God’s Word and the commands given in the Bible and yet still expected to experience His blessings of peace, joy and fulfillment in my life.

The meaning and value of justice became much more clear to me after the terrible experience of divorce–an experience filled with much anger and grief. After realizing that the law, regardless of one’s heart, has the power to break, divide and destroy; I understood how crushiThe Kindness of God's Justiceng God’s statement is in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…” God in His authority as Creator of the universe and of me, is fully justified to say that I have made choices that demand compensation of the costliest kind—punishment, destruction, death and the removal of God’s presence (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

Really though, the Good News of the Gospel of Christ is truly only “good” once one realizes that God would be entirely fair to leave us in a state of brokenness, hopelessness and condemnation. Without knowledge of justice, there would be no understanding of grace—God giving us what we don’t deserve.

Our society wants everyone to be able to claim the rights of God’s children. We want everyone to be able to know the Maker of the heavens and earth (Mark 10:24-27). We want everyone to be called completely good and accepted (Colossians 1:21-23). Yet God is very clear on the exclusivity of these rights: it is God’s gracious gift through faith in Jesus Christ alone that secures these amazing privileges in the life of every believer for eternity. And He so longs to give us these priceless gifts!

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12

And though we may not be able to fully comprehend how God can extend both an impartial sentence (for those who reject His Son) and grace (freely through faith in Christ), we can trust what He says about Himself in His Word.

“As for the Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are just. He is a reliable God who is never unjust, he is fair and upright.” Deuteronomy 32:4

Unlike the justice of this world, God, in His great love for us, provided a gracious alternative solution for all who would receive it.

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:18a

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Justice of God

Americans enjoy baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and justice. That’s not quite how the famous slogan goes, but it may be more accurate, especially at baseball games. Two teams vie against each other to make the most runs, while an umpire makes sure every play is fair (just). Often his”justice” (IQ, or blindness) is called into question, based on the bias of the fan.

We Americans grew up reciting “freedom and justice for all.” Unfortunately, the further America slips from its biblical roots, the further the meanings of those words have strayed from their original intent. Riots occur in the streets, and a non-Christian bias takes precedence over justice in too many of our courts. Decisions are made on false assumptions and without knowing all the facts. Our courts are as confused as Pilate, who asked Jesus, “What is truth?” How can there be justice without full disclosure of truth?

Yes, truth is lacking;
… Now the LORD saw,
And it was displeasing in His sight
that there was no justice. Isaiah 59:15

This verse was set during the reign of Manasseh, who “misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the sons of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:9).

Up to a point, Manasseh led a carefree “do your own thing” kind of life, not worrying about the justice of God.

Then…

“The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the LORD brought the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria against them, and they captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze chains and took him to Babylon. When he was in distress, he entreated the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God” (2 Chronicles 33:11-13).

The recurring theme of “justicedo your own thing,” is still popular today, and many defend to others their right to live that way, “Judge not.” While we may not be each other’s judge, we must remember we will all stand before God one day. In His court, the whole truth; and nothing but the truth will prevail. The truth is we are guilty. The penalty is death. It’s Hell for the “do your own thing” crowd and Heaven for those whose robes are washed clean by the blood of Jesus, clean enough to live in a perfect heaven. Could it be justice any other way?

If you are reading this and are still not convinced, please solemnly consider these words as God’s personal invitation to you:

Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. Isaiah 30:18

About the Writer:
At a young age, Ruthe considered the justice of God, repented of her sins and asked Jesus to be her Savior forever. She has never regretted it, but can honestly say that, besides assurance that she will spend eternity in Heaven, she has enjoyed seeing God lead, guide and protect her through the years. One of the greatest pleasures is the joy of serving Him through the ministry of Truett Library of First Baptist Church

God’s Way of Justice

Recent news headlines are filled with issues of injustice and racial tension. There are daily reports of police brutality and violence including destruction of property, looting, and injury to police officers. These reports beg the question of whether or not justice can be found in our country.

Jesus never promised us that this life would be easy. In fact He promised we would have tribulation. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

In addition James 1:2-4 tells us to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Paul makes it very clear in Romans 13:1 that we are subject to the governing authorities that have been established by God. “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Paul also tells us in Romans 12:19 that we should leave vengeance to the Lord. “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

God's Way of JusticeAs I work with women in prison there are some who tried to take justice into their own hands and because of that, they gave up their freedom. Even in the midst of their incarceration they have found forgiveness in Jesus Christ and hope for their future. God has forgiven their sin, but He has not removed the consequences of their actions. They are fully aware that they will have to serve the punishment that the courts handed down, but they also know that their eternal life is secure in a God who loves them and made a way for their sin to be forgiven.

The hope for true justice in our country is found in following verse:

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

About the Writer:
Anna leads the W.E. C.A.R.E. team for the Women’s Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a widow, a mom, a grandmother and grateful to the Lord for giving her opportunities to share with other women in several ministries through First Baptist Dallas.