Appendices & Indexes
1: A Summary of Basic Bible Doctrines | 2: Our Attitude to Learning Bible Truth | 3: The Nearness of Christ's Return | 4: The Justice of God
Appendix 4: The Justice Of God
Tutoring Bible students has revealed that a number of related questions often occur by the time the course of study has been completed. These all focus around the justice of God. Examples include:
'It isn't fair that not everyone is called by God to know the Gospel'.
'Why did God allow Adam and Eve to sin, and so bring suffering and difficulty into the lives of their billions of descendants?'
'Why did God just choose Israel as His people in the Old Testament, rather than giving everyone a chance?'
Such problems will occur to all of us, at whatever stage of relationship with God we are at. Finding these things hard to come to terms with is not in itself a reason to delay our response to God's call. This side of Christ's return, we will never come to a position of ultimate knowledge concerning them. Two thousand years ago, a man "cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mk.9:24). We all have this split personality; part of us believing, but another part labelled 'unbelief' desperately needing the Lord's help to silence. In the days or weeks before baptism, this is a very commonly felt emotion, and to some degree it will recur all our days.
Our 'unbelief' will often take the form of the types of questions to God listed above. The fundamental thing to be aware of is that it is unthinkable that we should accuse God of being unfair or unjust. If we do so, we are judging Almighty God in terms of our perceptions. We are saying that if we were God, we would act in a different way to how God does. It is one of humanity's greatest failures not to appreciate the extreme sinfulness of man, and the ultimate rightness of God. If God is not ultimately right, then there is no moral touchstone in the whole of existence. There is therefore no true concept of right or wrong. The whole idea of religion ('re-binding') with God is therefore pointless. As children can only reason against adults within their own limited perceptions and paradigms of reasoning, so do the children of God with their Father. But beyond this; as a dog is to a man, so is a man to God. Jeremiah questioned God's ways, but in an effort to understand more deeply a God whom he accepted to be ultimately right:
The suggestion that God may be unfair implies that we have certain rights, which somehow God is violating. The fact that God was our Creator and is our constant Sustainer means that we have no rights. We live constantly in His mercy, not just when we sin. 'Human rights' is a human concept, created by humans to justify themselves. We came into this world with nothing, and we will exit with nothing. All that we are and have is a total gift, given for a short time to see how we will respond to it. If God calls us to a closer relationship with Him, we should joyfully respond. To refuse to do so because others have not been invited to this, is to hurt God in one of the most painful ways possible.
We are all animals by nature (Ecc.3:18-20). We could say, 'Why has man been chosen to have a relationship with God, rather than any other animal?' The exact reasons we would not be able to comprehend even if we were told. The same is true of the Genesis record of creation. The scientific explanation of how God created matter and organized it into the infinite wonder of our universe is well beyond the possibility of human science to ever appreciate. God has therefore expressed His acts of creation in language which only the child-like can accept. The same is true of the moral dilemmas which we listed at the start of this appendix. This book has outlined Bible teaching concerning these issues. Our mind is not naturally humble to God's word; we will have difficulty accepting some of these things in the way the Bible expresses them. But we need to recognize that the problem is ours, not God's. We largely lack the self-knowledge required to accept that our thinking is basically flawed and faulty. We must come to terms with the fact that we are severely mentally impaired in comparison with God. Our way of thinking is not just a step down from God's; it is a fundamentally different thought process to His. For this reason we are asked to take on the mind of Christ, to learn from God's word to appreciate His way of thinking, and attempt to make it our own.
We will all admit that there are many elements of God's creation which are clearly very good; there is evidently some concept of righteousness which emanates from our creator, and is manifest in His creation. The problem is, there are other things in our human experience which are clearly evil and negative. It is this which causes some confusion as to the justice of God.
Sadly, many then go on to doubt God's rightness, and even whether He exists. Yet is it not far better to say that we believe God is fundamentally good and right, as He claims in His word, but we have problems understanding the place of evil in His creation?
"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us" (Dt.29:29). The Gospel is called "that which may be known of God" (Rom.1:19), implying there is much else that cannot yet be known. There are certain true principles which we can clearly see in God's word; and there are many other facets of God's character which these lead on to. But there are countless other "secret things" about God's ways, to which we have no access in this life. Thus Paul could say that in one sense he knew Christ and God, as can we (2 Tim.1:12; 2 Cor.5:16; Gal.4:9; Heb.10:30; 1 Jn.2:13), especially through personally experiencing God's love and responding to it (1 Jn.4:7,8); but in another sense he only "knew in part" (1 Cor.13:9,12), longing for the return of Christ, "that I may (then) know him, and the power of his resurrection" (Phil.3:10).
As we are increasingly exposed to the righteousness of God through the study of His word, we will increasingly long for the coming of His Kingdom, when at last His righteous characteristics will be plainly, physically manifested in a way which all His people will joyfully understand and love. That time will see the ultimate resolution of all the traumas which now afflict God's children - intellectual, moral and physical: "for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now we know in part; but then shall we know, even as also we are known" (1 Cor.13:12,13).