Part 2 Christianity’s answer to the justice of God

Sustaining the Justice of God

In part one I showed there is no ultimate justice in four common belief systems.  In part two I will demonstrate Christianity is the only belief system that maintains God’s holiness and thus provides ultimate justice for all who commit moral wrongs.  Without hell God’s holiness is sacrificed and He is an unjust God.

Hell is not a subject I like to talk about.  I realize it is an emotional issue and many people hate the doctrine of hell.  My reason for defending the doctrine was initiated by Rob Bell and his book questioning its existence by redefining it.  People all over the internet are debating this topic and I felt some clarity was needed.  My final reason for writing is because Jesus taught more about hell than anyone in the Bible.  He was the most compassionate and loving man in the history of the world and yet he didn’t shy away from warning people about the horrors of hell.  Out of that same love I defend the doctrine of hell.

I begin my case by defining a few terms.  Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in action, attitude, and nature[1].  Actions such as stealing, lying and murder are obvious examples of sins.  Attitude has to do with our thoughts and motives.  Lust, greed, and evil thoughts about others are also sins.  Lastly, we are sinners by nature.  The Bible teaches we are all born into sin and thus by nature we are sinners.  God’s holiness means that he is separated from sin and devoted to seeking his own honor[2].   God’s justice or righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right.  Speaking of God, Moses says, “All his ways are justice.  A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. 32:4) [3].

I will present 3 premises to make my case for the holiness and justice of God.

Premise 1:  Everyone commits moral wrongs (sins):  The Bible clearly teaches everyone sins and breaks God’s laws.  Romans 3:23 the Apostle Paul writes, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Paul here is summarizing what he said earlier in Romans 3:9-12 (NIV) “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Everyone rejects God and breaks his laws.  I have yet to find a person who doesn’t agree with the statement that everyone commits moral wrongs.  Even a virtuous individual like Gandhi did not live a morally perfect life.  Gandhi himself would have admitted he was a sinner either by wrong deeds or thoughts.

Premise 2:  Moral wrongs must be punished: The Bible is clear on this premise.  Paul writes in Romans 6:23 (NASB) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Death here is contrasted with eternal life.  Eternal life is spending eternity with God and “death” in this passage is eternal spiritual separation from God.  What we earn (wages) from sin is separation from God for all eternity.  God’s holiness demands this.  Sinners will not be in heaven.  God must punish all who sin and break His moral standards.  Hell is that place of separation from God.  Luke 16:19-31, the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, gives a clear picture of how Jesus described hell.  What this means is everyone is in trouble!  Everyone deserves spiritual separation from God when we die; we all deserve hell.

Premise 3: God provides a solution: A holy God is just in condemning all law breakers to hell.  If God never provided a solution his perfect justice would still be upheld because he would have punished every sin anyone ever committed.  However, God did provide a solution to the sin problem.  Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, came to earth and lived a sinless life perfectly fulfilling the requirements of God’s laws.  The Bible says he went to the cross and took on our sins.  Peter writes 1 Peter 2:22-24 (NASB) “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” Jesus solves the sin problem by bearing our sins and dying on the cross to pay the penalty we deserve.  God’s free gift of grace, being declared not guilty, is received by faith.  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The sin solution is applied only to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.  Those who don’t avail themselves of the solution will receive perfect judgment for their sins and spend eternity separated from God.

This is where holiness and love wins.  God’s holiness is maintained through the punishment of all sin; either by the sinner or by Jesus Christ.  All we have to do is accept God’s free gift of forgiveness.  Paul writes Romans 5:8-10 (NASB) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Death on the cross is greatest example of love possible.  By the blood of Jesus we are pronounced innocent of our sins.  We read in John 3:16 (NASB)[Jesus speaking] “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Perish here in the Greek means to be separated from God.  Through belief in God’s Son Jesus Christ, individuals who believe will not experience separation but will have eternal life (heaven).  Love wins as God provides a solution to all who believe.

Rob Bell’s focus on the love of God, compromises the holiness of God.  If there is no hell, then God cannot justly punish sin and by allowing sinners into heaven (Universalism) he is no longer a holy God.  As I have shown the Bible not only preserves the holiness of God but demonstrates His great love for His creation.  In the end God’s holiness and love wins!

[1] Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1994  p. 490

[2] Ibid p. 201

[3] Ibid p. 203

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