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If we speak of God's love most people will feel relaxed, comfortable & responsive. But speak of God's justice or judgement or righteousness (we can use those three words interchangeably) and those same people will most likely feel tense & intimidated. Those "hell fire & brimstone" preachers of previous generations seem like an oddity or liability to the "good name of the Church". Yet the Bible is unequivocal & unapologetic in declaring that God is just. God is righteous. God is Judge.

There is no contradiction between the love of God and the justice of God. His love is a "just love". His justice is motivated by love. Because we have trouble reconciling love and justice, we can easily make it a choice between one or the other. To do so is to immediately become unbalanced in our understanding of God.

[1] THE BIBLICAL TESTIMONY

a. "Righteousness", "Justice" = that quality or characteristic of being morally right & just

b. Few truths in Scripture are expressed more powerfully than God's justice - God as Judge. Consider the following episodes………

*Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) In what sense does this event demonstrate God's justice?

*Flood (Genesis 6/5-8) Again, how does this episode reveal the justice of God?

*Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis 19) What was it that challenged God's righteousness?

*Achan (Joshua 7) Explain how God's justice is seen in this event?

*Israel 's captivity (Acts 7/42,43) Here God's justice impacts the whole nation

c. Some other verses you might consider as they touch on this subject are.

*Gen.18/25 *Psalm 75/7 *Psalm 82/8 *Psalm 96/10,13

d. To move into the NT does not lessen the reality of God's justice; rather, it intensifies both the teaching & examples of the justice of God.

*Acts 10/42 *Acts 17/30,31 *Ananias & Sapphira (Acts 5/1-11) *Herod (Acts 12/20-25) *Hebrews 10/30,31 *Rev. 20/11-15

e. To the honest mind, the reality of God's justice & judgement is inescapable & undeniable

[2] THE EMERGING PARADOX

In coming to terms with God's justice, a seemingly irreconcilable tension emerges. On the one hand, our conviction that God is loving seems to be at odds with His role as Judge. On the other hand, if we accept that He is Judge, why doesn't He do some of this "judging stuff" and right some of the wrongs in this world? Let's look at each of these perspectives.

A. THE JUSTICE OF GOD

a. Isn't the idea of God's judgment "unworthy" of Him? Surely retribution is "out-of-character" for Him! How would you respond to that argument?

b. The concepts of "hell & punishment" seem 'vindictive' to us and are so contrary to God's love??

c. But how could God ignore the wrongs of this world and still be morally perfect & just?

d. The real issue here is our own moral imperfection blinding us to sinfulness of sin. The more we are exposed to sin in this world, the more insensitive we become spiritually

e. "For God not to judge would prove His moral indifference & compromise His holiness". What does the author of this statement mean? Do you agree or disagree?

B. THE INJUSTICE OF HUMANITY

a. If God is just, why doesn't He do something about injustice & the unjust? (Judge them) *Psalm 73/3-11 *Habakkuk 1/ 2-4,1/13

b. Even our own imperfect, biased sense of justice cries out for God to intervene

c. As we've seen, biblical history gives examples when God has acted to mete out justice. But, compared with the amount and extent of evil in the world, such examples are few and far between. Why do you think God seems so reluctant to judge the world on a more "regular" basis?

d. However, there is coming a final, complete judgement that restores justice forever. (John 5/28-30; John 16/5-11; Revelation 20/11-15)

[3] THE HUMAN DILEMMA

a. Job 9/2 identifies the dilemma - "How can a mortal be righteous or justified before God?"

b. If God is righteous & we are unrighteous, is there any hope of reconciliation?

c. God has "done something"! In His death, Jesus fulfilled justice & made mercy possible. Jesus absorbed the demands of justice - forgiveness & pardon now offered

d. 1 John 1/9 - God has not compromised His justice yet has honoured His love.

THINK ABOUT:

a. Is there any fresh insight you have gained as you have worked your way through this session?

b. How should the truth in this session effect your life? Knowing these truths, how should we live?

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