I recently had the privilege of preaching at the Vineyard Church of Rock Hill on God’s Justice. Many Thanks to the leadership team and Ben Ganson (who had some awesome closing comments) for trusting me in the pulpit!
Here is the LINK
Here is the Larry Norman song, The Great American Novel, that I quote at the beginning:
Check out Restorative Justice at Prison Fellowship.
Here are my notes:
Theology of Justice
- How do you define Justice?
- It is important to know what true justice is before we can know what injustice is
- Many different views of justice
- Gloria Steinem – atheistic feminist justice
- Nelson Mandela (had both injustice done to him and committed acts of injustice) – political and ethnic justice
- Dali Lama – Buddhist political justice
- Mother Theresa – economic and social Justice
- N.T. Wright – “setting things to right”
- We as Christians need to have a world view based on who God is. All our views about life the universe and everything must start with who God is as revealed to us in scripture.
III. God’s attribute – All Just
- Perfect Justice
- “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” Deut. 32:4
- Without respect of persons (impartial)
- “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.” Col. 3:25
- “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.” Deut. 10:17
- The first and greatest injustice – sin
- God created us to have communion and relationship with Him – it is our intended purpose (Genesis 1:26 – 27)
- The Garden was just because Adam and Eve had the opportunity to disobey God and for a while choose to obey Him (Genesis 2:8-9)
- Injustice happened when they chose to disobey – sin corrupted the world, you and I today. (Genesis 3)
- Three Kinds of Justice
- Punitive – let the punishment of the offender fit the crime
- “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: “‘Among those who approach me, I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’” Aaron remained silent.” Lev. 10:1-3
- Corrective – changing behavior of the offender
- “In vain I punished your people; they did not respond to correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a ravenous lion.” Jer. 2:30
- Restorative – The offender makes it right with the offended
- “But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’” Luke 19:8
- Jesus and the New Testament Justice
- Human Dignity is the basis for Human Justice
- We are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26 – 27)
- With the image of God stamped on us, all humans have dignity and worth
- Injustice is a violation of that dignity
- Justice restores dignity
- Jesus reinforces human dignity and justice
- Jesus took on our punitive justice on the cross (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
- Jesus offers us corrective Justice with the power of the Holy Spirit in our sanctification (John 16:13; Rom. 8:9-11)
- Life in the Spirit compels we, the church, to go out with restorative justice to offer hope to a sick and broken world. (Mark 16:15)
- What does justice look like on an individual level?
- When we love God completely, accept the gift of salvation bought by Jesus, and offer our lives to him in the Holy Spirit, we then go out, make things right.
- “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:34b-40)