Justice and Love

How do we reconcile the passages in the Bible that paint a picture of a God who is loving, forgiving, and whose mercy endures forever, with the image of a vengeful, and punishing God who sends unbelievers to their eternal torment in hell?

Many people want to believe that God is just; he rewards the righteous and punishes the unrighteous. And then there are passages that might lead us to either of those opinions or views of God. I should mention that there are also verses in the Bible that speak of God rewarding us for deeds done in the flesh. See 2Cor. 5:10 for example. (I wonder how many people look up these verses.)

So let’s look at a couple passages about people getting their just due. In Romans 10:9 Paul writes: ‘9 …. if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ This is one of those verses the evangelical types like to share in order to convince others that there must be a confession of faith in order to be saved… sort of like ‘accepting Jesus’ or being ‘born again’. And that’s fine because there it is in the Bible.  It’s in the same section of scripture that causes us to wonder what the fate of the Jewish people is. At one point Paul says he grieves over his own lost people and at another he speaks about how all Israel will be saved. There seems to be some uncertainty as to God’s plan of salvation for the Jews. I do like that verse in Romans 11:32 where Paul writes that ‘God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them ALL.’

Now consider this verse found in 1John 2:2 supposedly written by the Apostle John. ‘He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Good Calvinists say that the death of Christ was sufficient for the whole world but only efficient for the ‘elect’. Now there’s another can of worms in trying to figure out the character of God.

Let me add another verse about God’s love and forgiveness. “Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19)  I leave it to the reader to understand the parallels of ‘all’ and ‘many’ but it is clear that Paul means to let his readers know that God’s mercy is extended to all.

Ok. Let’s take a look at John 3:16: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT) See, it would seem that those who don’t believe would perish. But notice this, perishing is different from everlasting torment. You will have to do a dictionary study for this.

Now let’s go to a passage which helps us understand God’s will. In 1Timothy 2 Paul urges the people to pray for the leaders of Rome so that they can live a peaceful life, and he concludes in v.4: ‘This is good and pleases God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (NIV)

Some folk say that the love of God wants all people to be saved but the justice and election of God only saves some. That’s interesting. I have always thought that Christ on the cross IS the justice and love of God together. Christ’s death allows us to know that God takes sin seriously and that he forgives sin at the same time for all people.

Recall the death of Jesus on the cross where he cries, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ It seems to be there are a whole lot of people in this world who don’t understand and therefore don’t know Christ. Are they condemned because they don’t confess Christ as Savior?

Now let’s take a look at a letter from Peter, the disciple who denied and then reconciled with Christ. 1Peter 3:18-19: ‘18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison.’ (NRSV) I can’t be absolutely sure but it appears that there is a second chance for those who have died. This goes along with 1Peter 4:1-6: ‘Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.’

And there are many scriptures (see 1 Cor. 15 for example) that lead us to an understanding of God’s justice and love mingled together on the cross. (This may actually mean that there is post mortem salvation by the will of God who in his word says that one day every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.) Our God’s nature is revealed in Jesus the Christ. It is the nature of justice absorbed by love.

And so I believe that there will come a time when God reconciles the whole creation to himself. That is not for the purpose of encouraging irresponsibility but rather magnifying the love of God. It’s love that saves and not fear. The Good News of God’s love has more drawing power than any warnings about eternal torment. Just something to think about.

3 thoughts on “Justice and Love

  1. Its love that saves a person more then anything else, I was dead both physically and Spiritualy before The Son of God appeared to me. I did not know this man while he stood before me with his hands held out to me to welcome me. His hands had wounds in them and so did his feet. I had never in my life read a bible and had very little religion in my life up to age 27. What I knew of God came by way of exsperences with him which started at age 6 when I let go of my brothers hand at the school bus stop and ran out into the street. A car then hit me and witnesses said I flew up into the air past the height of the telephone poles. What goes up must come down and so I came down head first.
    I remember a few things about that accident, I got up off the road and walked over to my brother Joseph
    who was crying because I got hurt so bad and I was a bloody mess, Then I fell down in front of him and said Joe can we go home now Im scared and don’t feel well . He fell down by my side crying over me telling me he was sorry and that help was coming. I just lay there in a pool of blood with so many adults surrounding me and some ladys were crying and praying dear God prayers for me. Then I blacked out and woke up in a place with hundreds of other kids all around me who welcomed me there. I did not give things much of a thought I only knew that I was not alone and I was with lots of other kids and we mostly just sat there in this place where there was a great light in the distance and there were big men that stood outside and all around us kids.Seemed to me they were watching us. The light in the distance made me feel good every time I looked at it. Most kids were just sitting there watching the light
    From time to time other kids came into our circle and I joined in with the welcoming of them, They also looked at the light and felt its love and peace , there was a kid in the group I was with who referred to the light as father. Perhaps he was tought by his parents that God was also named father. I figured this light must be God. So at this time I referred to God as Father God in the light.
    My mom recanted to me what had happened to me later on in life about that accident. She told me that I was in a coma for over a week after the accident and that the doctors did not give me much of a chance of survival , They said my brain was damaged and that I had internal bleeding in my brain and they needed to operate to remove blood clots and to try and stop the bleeding. But really I was ok because I was not there but someplace else.Apparently I had left my body of affliction and was seated before Father God at 6 years old with hundreds of other kids. After my mom received the bad news from the doctors that they would have to operate on me and that my chances for surrvival were very slim she went to my bedside in the hospital and began to pray to a God she did not know and as she prayed she cried over me and her tears fell upon my face and its then that I woke up my face was covered in her tears. I said mom why are you crying and then she cried out for the doctors and nurses
    telling them I was awake and she was still crying but it was an excited crying and thank you God crying.
    The doctors came in and poked me hear and there , Nurses fussing over me everyday and every night for 3 weeks afterwards and then I was released to go home. My 7th birthday was coming in a few days and my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said a fishing pole. My dad was going to take me fishing but he got called away to his work and would be out of town, But his friend said I will pick him up and take him fishing, Saturday morning came and he was right on time, We loaded my brand new fishing pole and a five gallon bucket into his car and off we went to the Hudson River. My mom had made me some hard boiled eggs to take with me in case I got hungry. So we unloaded the fishing pole
    and bucket and my dads friend said wheres the bait you can’t fish without bait. Didn’t anyone tell you that in a mocking way. I just stood there feeling stupid maybe its the way he said it mockingly you can’t fish without bait then I heard him saying things to him self that were not nice.
    I just put my hands in my pockets and put my head down because I knew I did something wrong.
    I felt ashamed of my self for not realizing I needed bait, My hands in my pockets felt the two hard boiled eggs my mom gave me, Then the thought dawned on me that I might use a piece of one of the eggs to bait the hook. So while my dads friend was talking to himself and using some choice words I peeled one of the eggs, I noticed that while I was peeling the egg there was a skin between the shell and the egg.
    So I took a piece of the shell and carefully feed the hook between the skin and the shell , Then I said a very Short prayer to the light I seen when I was with those other kids and I said Father God can you help me to catch a fish and I said it quietly to him, Just after I said this my dads friend said what is that you have on the hook, I said bait, He came over and looked at the bait and began to laugh at me and he also seen the egg shells on the ground in front of me, Egg shells you got to be kidding me, Who ever told you that you could fish with egg shells, I said MY father, Then I lowered the line into the water and he was laughing so hard now I thought something was wrong with him. As he was laughing a big fish took my bait and almost pulled me into the water, I held onto the pole tightly and tried to pull the fish up but he was too big for me and weighed too much, My dads friend all of a sudden stopped laughing and ran over to me and said some more choice words and he helped me to get the fish out of the water and onto the shore.He took the fish off the hook and I put another egg shell on the hook like before and in seconds another fish hit my hook and this went on for hours. People who were fishing along this river bank came over and wanted to know what I was using for bait and I showed them how to bait there hooks but none of them caught fish. That day I went home with way too many fish and my dads friend said he was sorry for making fun of me and that he had never before seen anyone or heard of anyone fishing with egg shells. My mom She was just so proud of me, When my dad got home from his trip he stopped into the gin mill for a beer before going home and got an ear full from his drinking Buddys about how he thought me how to fish with egg shells. He questioned his friend about the fishing trip and his friend said that when he asked me who told me I could use egg shells for bait guy said my father .
    Then he said to my dad he fished out the river and no one else caught fish but him, You will be eating fish for along time he said. My Dad asked my mom and she told him it was all true, But he said I never told him he could fish with egg shells. At the time I asked father God , So when he asked me who told me to use egg shells I meant my father in the light. I simply believed that Father God in the light would help me to catch a fish and he did more then that he helped me to catch too many fish. This was my first encounter with God, After this encounter I would ask everyone who was an adult or someone I thought was important who is God. My mom and dad , aunts and uncles, police, doctors, and so forth, But no one could answer that question until age 27 .
    I am what many would call an evangelical but I do not believe I have ever tried to minister to anyone useing those verses in scripture that depict God as a bully. Yet I have known many that do that. I like to use Christ crucifed and then add what he has done for me in my life. Although I am aware of all the ammunition the scriptures provide I have chosen to bring forth the love of God. In my relationship with Gideon’s you can find many that use those over tones that depict God as being someone who demands
    and insists that if you do not except his son you will face a fiery end. Its scriptural and I beleive that perhaps many might be warned to change the way they live there lives. But for me I chose to testifie
    the love of God. Works every time. If you would like I can tell you of my second encounter with God at age 9 years .

  2. My second encounter with God at age 9 years. My dad was in the hospital because a judge gave him a choice to ether go to prison or to a hospital because of his alcohol problem. He drank too much. But also he would get very crazy when he drank. My dad moved furniture for a living and he was a very big man of 6 feet 5 ,, He was also trained by his father to be a professional fighter in the ring, His father was also a professional fighter and his father before him was also a pro fighter in Germany so this trait of professional fighters ran in the family. My dad was also in the 82nd airborn and his job was to train solders as a drill sergeant . He also followed a part time career in fighting in the boxing ring in the army.
    During one of his fights with another solder in an army ring he had accidentally killed another man, and while the fight was legal and in a ring and supervised he was given a one year sentence to a military prison. Military justice is different then civil justice. Sometimes in my dads drinking days he would fall asleep at the kitchen table and it seemed he was in another place in time. He at times would call roll call
    to solders he had trained , Or he would have conversations with people that were not there. Me and my big brother Joseph would flip a coin as to who was going to stay up to make shore he didn’t fall off his chair
    and hurt himself. Other times we both stayed up with him and let him talk about many things both good and bad. His life was difficult, He had 8 kids to care for and my mom loved him more for the good man he really was inside without the alcohol and she really hung in there with him. One night I had awoken from my sleep because of some noise in the kitchen my brother Joe was sleeping and so no one was watching my dad durning his drinking bout on the weekend. I thought he had fallen out of the kitchen chair again but I was wrong. There were police cars in the driveway and two police officers were
    lying down next to each other in the living room with there arms and hands folded over there chest and there hats were in a very orderly way just beneth there hands. I stood there over them and looked at my dad who was sitting at the kitchen table drinking his beer and chasing down shots and said dad why are these police officers laying down in the living room ? He said they are friends of his and asked if they could take a nap because they had a hard day so do not wake them and get your self back to bed.
    At this point my mom came out of her bed room and she was yelling at my dad . Then more policemen came though the door with guns drawn and my dad was fighting them. Then a police sergeant was going to shoot him but my mom stood in front of him. Yelling at the sergeant to not shoot her husband.
    The officer said if he does not allow us to cuff him he will shoot him. My mom pleaded with my dad and he submitted and the police took him away. Thats when the judge gave him the option of jail or a hospital. So for many months my dad was committed to a hospital to get off the alcohol. But it was at this time where the good lord stepped in and again made his presence known in such a loving way.
    And up until age 9 years I was still asking people who was God and still could not get an answer.
    It was a couple days before Christmas and I was awoken again by a mans voice who sounded like an authority of some type, and that voice was coming from the living room, So I got up and walked halfway down the dark hallway to look and see who was talking. It was a man on TV and my mom was on her knees in front of the tv crying. The mans name was billy gram and apparently my mom was taking in every word he was saying and she was crying. I just stood there in the hallway quite and said nothing but just watched my mom crying. Then came some singing from the Choir that was apart of this mans TV show, She lowered the volume still crying but now talking to God and asking him to forgive her.
    I backed up to my bed room door and just listened to her pleas to God which went something like this.
    Dear God My husband is in the hospital trying to kick his alcoholism, There is no food in the house, I have no money for shopping to feed my kids or pay the rent, Christmas is 2 days away and I have no money or presents for the kids. I have no where else to turn , God if you can help me in anyway please
    then she began to cry some more and I went back to bed thinking me and my big brother Joseph can grab our snow shovels in the morning and knock on peoples doors and shovel there snow for a few dollars and make enough money to at least get some food in the house, Then I fell asleep, Early morning came and I got dressed and was going to wake my big brother to let him know we needed to shovel snow , But my little brother Kevin woke up early he was always up early . He said hey you your up before me what you doing ? Getting ready to shovel some snow, Can you wake up your big brother for me tell him we need to go out and make some money, Yea he said the snow looks really deep guy.
    Who are those men parked in our driveway he said as he was looking out the window. I said what men,
    He said two men with a big truck who are bringing boxes . What I said, I looked out the window and shore enough two men carrying boxes were heading for our front door. Then came the knock and I told
    Kevin to answer the door. He opened the door and me and Kevin greeted them. One man said is this the Youngs residence ? Yes I said it is, Well he said we have some deliveries for you can we come in with the boxes and set them down, Yes I said. So they set the boxes down in the living room then went back and forth to there truck bringing in more boxes for a good 45 min I think, Then after that they smiled at us and said merry Christmas and left. Kevin and I just stood there looking at them boxes Kevin Said whats in them, I said I don’t know, Then Kevin looked out the window again and said Guy there are more men with a big truck with more boxs and I looked out the window again and shore enough more men with boxes . Again we answered the door and they filled our living room from floor to ceiling with all sorts of boxes and Kevin said Guy whats going on who are these men ? I don’t know Kevin I said but this is all very strange. These other men smiled at us too and wished us a merry Christmas like the others did, Kevin went to the window again and said Guy there are a whole bunch of cars and trucks now in the driveway and out front and a whole bunch of people are coming with boxes Im going to tell mom and I said yea you better do that and while Kevin was waking up mom and the rest of the family saying there are men with boxes wake up they are in the living room, He was in a panic jumping on everyones bed screaming men with boxes in the living room I just let them in and more boxes now filled the kitchen , I heard mom yelling at Kevin to be quite but he just kept yelling men with boxes get up, Guy mom yelled what the heck are you doing now. More people kept coming and now the living room and kitchen was filled with boxes of all sorts and so was the living room and kitchen filled with people. Mom got up and came out first then the rest of my brothers and sisters, Mom said guy who are all these people and whats with all these boxes. Then a man with a nice suite and his beautiful wife stepped forward and explained they represented the Salvation Army and he was a pastor from such and such a church and that every year they elect a few familys to give a Christmas blessing and our family was elected as one of them. Then my mom started crying and the pastors wife stepped forward
    and gave her a big hug and explained that the boxes in the living room were all gifts and boxes in the kitchen were food , Then two men came though the front door with a Christmas tree, Mom was now balling her eyes out and so was the rest of my siblings, Then the pastor stepped forward and gave my mom an envelope filled with money. And a big hug, Then lots of God bless youse were said from all the workers and they filed out the front door and stood in two lines out side our front door in the snow and sang Christmas songs to us Then got back in there cars and trucks waving to us good bye. Mom cried and cried pretty much all day and right into Christmas. Something happen to her, she was never the same after that. Every year since that time Kevin and I no matter where we are a few days before Christmas we call each other and talk about the best Christmas we ever had.
    For me it was more then just a Christmas it was a mystery. I had remembered my moms prayers while she was praying and asking the lord to forgive her and telling him all her needs. And then like clock work her prayers were answered the very next morning. Deep inside me that question I kept asking everyone who was God only made me seek him more. So this was my second encounter with the person in the light, Or God. Was such a mystery to me. So now you have the close encounters of the first and second kind.
    If you want the close encounter of the 3rd kind at 27 I can share that as well.
    God Bless you

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