In an article unpacking the meaning of true Biblical justice Marvin Olasky,
Editor-in-Chief of World Magazine,
makes this thesis statement:
“Biblically, the most important purpose of justice is to increase righteousness. Whatever decreases faith in God is unjust.”
All mankind must hear the good news that even if God appears to be against us
He is always and in reality FOR us.
“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains, that water the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3
We should keep this to the forefront of all our thought pertaining to the character
of Father-God. The idea of justice is actually a putting of things to the right,
not about punishing in order to “get even”.
He has shown you, O man, what is good
We are told here that the Biblical definition of justice is that of DOING justice rather than the “eye for an eye” of GETTING justice. The Greek word in the Bible used for justice and for righteousness is the SAME WORD.
In fact the meaning for the word righteousness is literally “right-useness.”
That means that true Biblical justice entails the return of something to its intended use.
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia
ri’-chus-nes (tsaddiq, adjective, “righteous,” or occasionally “just” tsedheq, noun, occasionally =” righteousness,” occasionally =” justice”; dikaios, adjective, dikaiosune, noun, from dike, whose first meaning seems to have been “custom”; the general use suggested conformity to a standard: righteousness,
“the state of him who is such as he ought to be” (Thayer)):
Christian thought in all ages has recognized as the central element in righteousness the intention to be just and fair and do right. From the very beginning we see clearly that the Hebrews believed in their God as one passionately devoted to the right .
(Gen 18:25). The purpose of God, according to the Hebrews, was to make a people “separated” in the sense that they were to be free from anything which would detract from a full life on all levels of being … spiritual ,soulical , and physical .
Can we see the implications for this more holistic and comprehensive understanding of justice?
What might this mean for the traditional teaching of an eternal hell? Could you conceive of it being that of a never-ending sentence by God to “get even” with sinners who are therefore never healed and never cured?
How would God fulfill His justice if in fact most are never returned to righteousness but rather allowed to perpetuate unrighteousness …forever?
The argument for an eternal torture in hell based on God’s justice can no longer be seen as valid for it conversely points to the very opposite conclusion:
God is clearly in the business of DOING justice and therefore He will have all His creation put back to rights, a return to righteousness!
“He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.” Isa 42:4
1 I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of his wrath.
2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;
3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.
5 He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.
8 Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.
9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
he has made my paths crooked.
10 Like a bear lying in wait,
like a lion in hiding,
11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.
12 He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
and sated me with gall.
16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Jeremiah lists just about every affliction and hellish experience you could imagine acknowledging all this coming from the Lord under inspiration of GOD …
yet astonishingly he concludes that his soul continues to have hope because
“the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases…”
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
God is ONE. Therefore God is love AND God is just.
His love and justice have one purpose and that is righteousness.
With this understanding we are led to a paradigm of earthly justice that must also be applied to God’s ultimate “eternal” justice.
If we fail to see the agreement of Father-God in righteousness and love,
we make God two and not one.
It means He has two goals of justice, one that “gets even” and one that puts things to right. This projects upon Him two minds and we are left without the integrity of Father-God.
This brings about an unhealthy fear like that of children of an alcoholic father
who never know which “dad” they are dealing with.
All mankind must hear the good news that even if God appears to be against us,
He is ALWAYS for us.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Restoration is shown to be within the spiritual “DNA” of the Church as a whole. Collectively this is being worked out within the Body in profound and remarkable ways. It is easier to understand how this is true when you actually picture the Body of Christ as God intended, as a body.
If you view the Church as one entity and do not segregate the differing parts of the Body as we have done by our denominationalism you will hear one coherent Gospel, one Story of God.
With this is mind, if you put all the following trajectories or “movements” of the Church together, you will see that from within the Body of Christ itself there is arising a stunning vision of a finished redemption and restoration of all creation.
For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
NLT-New Living Testament
And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.
God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God, for our salvation.
In Jesus Christ , God has actualized his unconditional love for us in our human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself.
Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful
and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own
before and apart from our ever believing in him.
He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go,
for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.” ~T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ”, 94
“The whole world will be healed as it is drawn into the fullness of God’s glory.
Evil will be destroyed and all the potentialities in creation,
latent until that moment, will explode with fullness and beauty.”
“Because creation was made in the image of a God who is equally one and many, the human race will finally be reunited and our racial and cultural diversity will remain intact in the renewed world.
The human race finally lives together in peace and interdependence.
Glory to God in the highest … goes with … peace on earth.”
—Tim Keller The Reason for God (pg 232-233)
“The goal of redemption is nothing less than the restoration of the entire cosmos. The scope of redemption is truly cosmic.
Through Christ, God determined ‘to reconcile to himself all things’ (Col 1:20). Matthew 19:28 speaks of the renewal (the word is ‘regeneration’) of all things.
Acts 3:21 also indicates a cosmic regeneration when it says that Jesus must remain in heaven ‘until the time comes for God to restore everything’.
“Why must God regenerate, give new life and direction to, all things?
Because the entire creation has been drawn into the mutiny of the human race (Rom. 8:19–24).
Because man’s fall affected not only himself but also the rest of creation, redemption must involve God’s entire creation.”
— Michael D. Williams Far As the Curse is Found
The Church has been catching the vision for “restorative justice” as the model most reflective of true Biblical justice
Books such as “Justice That Restores” (Colson) or “Generous Justice” (Keller) clarify that the true nature of justice is found in doing justice not in getting justice. We are coming to understand that locking people up is not to be viewed as justice being satisfied, only consequences being brought to bear. Simply “getting justice” is contrary to the Bible as Mark Driscoll so boldly states:
“Am I looking for vengeance? Or am I thankful for justice?”
The two may seem similar on the surface, but at the heart level they are at odds with one another. Vengeance is contrary to the gospel.
So, we can be thankful that God is just, and we can be very thankful that God is gracious.”
We are beginning to see that real justice is not “getting even” but rather returning things to their original intention or their “right-useness” (righteousness).
It is pointed out that the goal of true Biblical justice is restoration.
Therefore true justice entails restoration of the perpetrator as well as the victim.
This is being presently taught in the Body of Christ and highlights the logical parallel between earthly justice and God’s eternal justice.
This recent clarification and emphasis on the nature of true Biblical justice as “restorative” is powerful evidence for the nature of God’s ultimate justice…that it MUST be redemptive!
The doctrine of “Eternal Conscious Torture”
is at the least erroneous
and at the worst
For at the same time we are told
“God is a God of love BUT He is also a God of justice” (meaning vindictive)
as an explanation for the doctrine of ECT (eternal conscious torment)
Meaning it’s OK , even expected, for God to be unmerciful and vindictive
when it comes to HIS final justice
but He requires US to be merciful and redemptive
in our earthly justice.
This inconsistency is evoking a STRONG sense that something …
is seriously wrong in our theology.