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Justice, Mercy and Grace.
We live in a society today where everyone mouths the word "Justice" in a way that suggests justice should always reward them for wrongs done to them by others, and arbitrarily absolve their moral shortcomings and other sins and affronts against God because in a "tit for tat" gimme world, we are allowed to wrong others to mitigate our losses if we have been wronged. It's an equivalent retaliation world where two wrongs always seem to make a "right"—if the malefactor is part of a historically wronged minority.

In American culture justice is based on the principles of theorists like John Locke. Justice in its broadest sense is based on society's concept of ethical conduct based on moral correctness. The concept of justice varies in every society. Plato was the first to define the theory of justice in his work, "The Republic." In the Christian era that followed the empire of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire of the Caesars, theorists determined that justice was the Divine instrument of God. In the Christian biblical view, God alone defines justice, which varies per individual. Justice, in God's eyes, is not a "one-size-fits-all" fix. Societal revisionists today believe that justice must be based on the mutual agreement of the majority. It is a social contract between the many which can be changed on the whims of the few; or more often, the totalitarian will of a ruling oligarchy with the power to imprison or put to death those who resist their edicts.

In the latter-1800s those with more utilitarian views like British philosopher John Stuart Mill and 20th century moral philosopher John Rawls who argued that justice is whatever has the best consequences for the majority—distributive justice. We know it today under the illegitimate presidency of Barack Obama as redistributive justice—the taking by legal force of the sweat-earned prosperity of the middle class and the upper working class through taxation for redistribution to an underclass which the masters of the universe will use to erase the middle class by forcing it down the economic ladder to meet the struggling underclass hanging haplessly to the bottom rungs of the ladder to prosperity, trying to climb over the former middle class which is now struggling to keep some semblance of its former standard of living in a failing society.

The Oxford University Dictionary defines justice as the administration of the law, and the dispensing of punishment as well as reward. Mercy, on the other hand, is described as the compassion and forbearance shown by one person to another who is under his power or authority and has no claim to expect kindness. The dictionary continues by describing grace as the manifestation of goodwill as distinguished from rights bestowed upon one who does not merit immunity.

From the Christian perspective of salvation, justice may correctly be interpreted as receiving that which we honestly deserve although we don't necessarily want it. Mercy, on the other hand, is not receiving what we rightly deserve. Grace is best described as receiving that which we have not earned and do not deserve.

But better than the Oxford University Dictionary's definition of justice, mercy and grace is the Bible's more profound view. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." [Rom. 3:23-24; KJV] "For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourself's, it is a gift of God." [Eph. 2:8; KJV]. "...The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord." [Rom. 6:23; KJV] (In the original Greek text, both 3:24 and 5:23 appear as Christ Jesus.)

At times, Scripture refers to our Lord as Jesus Christ (Isesous Christos) and, at other times as Christ Jesus (Christos Isesous). Jesus became our advocate before God the Father with His sacrifice on the cross. [Jn. 14:6; Rom. 5:10; 8:34; 2 Cor. 2:10]. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." [1 Tim. 2:5, KJV]. From the crucifixion, man no longer required a priest to make atonement for his sins. This thought is exemplified in the rent temple veil [Matt. 27:51] which typifies the torn body of Jesus Christ. The temple veil separated the priest's place of worship in the Holy of Holies. The tearing of the veil symbolized the opening of the way to the presense of the Father through Christ Jesus.

As Christians examine the verses which refer to our Lord as Jesus Christ and as Christ Jesus, we find an interesting parallel. Those verses which address Christ as Christ Jesus deal with our salvation through the earthly ministry of our Savior and kinsman redeemer. Those verses referring to Him as Jesus Christ address Him as the Son of God, our Propitiation, and deal with our salvation (or loss of it) through His deity. It is noteworthy that as we compare the standard King James text with the language of the original Greek text, we find that Jesus Christ is substituted for Christ Jesus 34 times in the following verses: Acts 3:20, 5:42; Rom. 1:1, 2:16, 6:23, 15:16-17; 1 Cor.1:1; 1 Tim. 1-2, 1:12, 2:5, 4:6, 5:21; 2 Tim. 1:1, 1:10,. 2:3, 4:1; Titus 1:4, 2:13; Ph'm 1 and 9.

When Christ became our Mediator, mercy though grace superceded justice. Recognizing that we have all sinned [Rom. 3:23] and that the whole world abounds in wickedness [1 Jn. 5:19] justice is the last thing any of us wants, since justice would demand the penalty for sin. Justice without mercy would condemn all of mankind to a fiery Hell. Standing guilty before the Judgment Seat of God during the Great White Throne Judgment will be a horror beyond comprehension as the screams of those judged before those still awaiting judgment echo in their ears. Then they, too, will be cast into Hell (Gehenna—the place of unquenchable fire—from the word Ge-Hinnom also known as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom) just outside the East Gate of Jerusalem at the spot where the altars of Molech stood. Idol worshippers during the reign of Manasseh sacrificed their children to the pagan Ammonite god Molech from that spot, then called Topeth [2 Chr 4. 33:6]. When God condemned the practices of Manasseh, He declared His Divine purpose for the spot where the altars to Molech had been erected, and for the Valley of the son of Hinnom. "Therefore behold the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be called Topeth, nor the Valley of the son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they shall bury in Topeth until there is no more room." [Jer. 7:32. KJV] "For Topeth is ordained of old, yea, for the king..." (Satan) "...it is prepared." [Rev. 20:10] "He hath made it deep and large...The pile of it is much fire and wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, does kindle it." [Isa. 30:33 KJV]. During the second and final judgment of mankind, Jesus Christ, our high priest to the Father, and the high judge of Heaven, will judge all whose names were not written in the Lambs Book of Life from just outside the East Gate of Jerusalem. He will command the earth to open at that place, in the Valley of the son of Hinnom (known today as the Kidron Valley), just below the East Gate at the base of the hill. From the Judgment Seat, those who rejected mercy through the grace of God during their lifetimes will be cast into the fires of Gehenna from that spot where they will be tormented for eternity.

Those who, through grace, receive mercy (their's for the asking), are covered by the blood of Christ Jesus, and will escape the final judgment. Only those with naked guilt (not covered by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus) who chose that fate will be required to attend because when Christ became our mediator to the Father, mercy through grace superceded justice, and His blood covered our sins, and through grace, we received mercy. Recognizing that every human on Earth except God who became man through sinless human birth carries the burden of human sin from birth, and that all of mankind abides in wickedness in some form and degree [1 Jn. 5:19], no one wants justice for their deeds on Earth since justice without mercy will condemn all of us. As I said moments ago, guilty before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ will be a horror beyond our imaginations. At that moment in time, saying, "Lord, I'm sorry. Please forgive me," will be too little, too late. The names written in the Lambs Book of Life, the book of those whose sins were covered by the blood of our kinsman-redeemer, will already have been read aloud. Remember this as well. During both the Rewards Judgment and the Great White Throne Judgment, the knee of every man, woman and child who ever lived will bow before Jesus, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. [Phil. 2:10-11]. The strong-willed, who pass through this life asking nothing of anyone, and believing that man is his own master, and the master of his own universe insisting that we come this way once, and when we die, we turn into dust and that's all there is. . There is no God. There is no eternity. The abyss of eternal fire or darkness doesn't exist. They are wrong.

There are scores of reports from people in the 20th century who experienced death for moments or minutes during surgeries, only to be resuscitated before their souls pass into either darkness or light. Some spoke of the horrors of the darkness or of seeing a place of unspeakable torment. Others experienced peace and serenity from a bright light as they rose from the lifeless body below them. One of those was a three-year old boy who was rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery to save his life. He was suffering from bronchial pneumonia. His right lung had filled with fluid, and people were huddled around the operating table, scrambling to save the small boy's life. The year was 1943. What appeared to be a rubber hose protruded from his right side. On the floor was a porcelain pan into which the fluid from his lung was draining. The body on the table appeared lifeless, but the mind of that boy—or rather, his soul, which is the living matter within any earthly human body—the light above him was so bright it made the bright light over the operating table look dim. The boy witnessed the procedure on the table beneath him for what seemed an eternity measured in nano-seconds and his heart began beating again. The boy, to this day, can still see the operating table, the doctors and nurses frantically working to save his life—and himself on the operating table. He always thought he somehow awoke during the operation and saw the tube coming out of his side, draining into the porcelain pan on the floor. But he could never explain how he saw himself. When he was in his teens he confided to his father what happened that night in 1943, asking his father if he had died that night. That boy from 1943 was me. My dad's response? Impossible! It was just a dream.

In my early 20s I chanced across a book written by a medical doctor who became a Christian after suffering his own life-after-death experience when he suffered a heart attack and died on the way to the hospital. Prior to his heart attack, one or two of his patients told him of a bright light experience during the surgeries. In each case, those patients died momentarily during the surgery, but were resuscitated. But the doctor did not see the bright light. He saw the torments of Hell. The good doctor surveyed his peers and wrote a medically-backed life-after-death book. I found other books on the topic, but most of them lacked the ring of truth I found in the doctor's book.

As a three-year old, I was some years from the age of accountability so, like every infant or toddler or child up to the age of accountability (ask God, not me), I saw the brightness of Heaven. Had I died anytme between Easter Sunday, 1963 and Easter Sunday, 1978 my first glimpse of the after-life would have been centered on the fire and brimstone of Hell. I never read a Bible—out of choice. I never prayed—out of choice. When my wife accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior, I did not—out of choice. When my wife, our daughter and her mother—three generations—were baptized together, I did not go—out of choice. Had I died in that 15 year period between 1963 and 1978, I would have been one of those who, some day soon now, will stand before the Judgment Seat asking for mercy which would have been mine for the asking while I was alive. But, at that moment in the afterlife, it would have been too late.

Surprisingly, many who base their religious beliefs on salvation by works instead of faith in Christ Jesus [Gal. 2:16] will stand before the Judgment Seat and demand justice, believing their works will save them. Man doesn't realize his carnal nature is so corrupt that his inherited sin nature eliminates any justification to grace through mercy.

As clear as the Word of God is on this subject, we still see many religious orders which, while professing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, still practice all the ceremonial rites and oblations of the Old Testament laws. Practiced is salvation through tithing and good works rather than salvation by grace through faith in Christ [Eph. 2:6-8]. Sin still has dominion over our lives when we rely on the doctrines of self-righteousness to deliver our souls [Rom. 6:14]. The law which convicts does not deliver.

Christ is our reconciliation [Heb. 2:17], our propitiation and our mercy seat [Lev. 16:2; Heb. 9:5] before the throne of God. In the history of the world, there has been only one example of justice, mercy and grace, and that is through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Finding even "imputed sin" in His Son, God could not spare Him under the law. Justice condemns. Through love and mercy, the sins of all men—those who had previously died and those not yet alive—every sin by everyone was imputed on Christ, and His shed blood covered them. And judgment passes over them who are born again through Christ Jesus.

Because our sin-debt is now paid in full, we can expect mercy instead of justice. Instead of penalty and punishment, we will receive the gift of eternal life which grace purchased. Well, for whatever it's worth, once again, you have my two cents worth on this subject. Until next time...

 

 

 

 

Just Say No
Copyright 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
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