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One With Justice

“And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: ‘Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.'” Revelation 15:2-3

Image result for black and white justiceHuman minds will never more fully understand God’s justice than when we stand before Him in heaven. Then we will see Him face to face, even as He has always seen us [1 Corinthians 13:12]. Then we will know how all of His essence is one, even as He is also one [Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29]. Then we will see our finite existence from the perspective of a holy eternity.

God is just because all truth is His truth. And justice cannot operate without truth.

God is just because He is also good and loving and all-knowing and unchanging. He is just because He is also holy and sovereign and wise and all-powerful. He is just because He is also transcendent and everywhere-present and faithful and gracious and merciful. He is just because He is also self-existent and self-sufficient and eternal and infinite.

All of His character works together as one unit, rather than as separate entities. He is never more or less any of these qualities, just as none of these traits exists outside of His person. God is just, because that is who He is.

He is self-existent and self-sufficient, so His justice is not counseled by any created being.

He is unchanging and He is holy, so His justice never wavers to the left or to the right [Proverbs 4:27].

He is all-knowing and wise, so His justice has always faithfully extended grace.

He is all-powerful and sovereign, so His justice is precisely exacted.

But He is also good and merciful and loving and gracious, so He provided a substitution for the wages of our sins [Romans 5:8 & 6:23; 1 John 2:2]. A substitute to accept our condemnation so that, by His grace, we could be considered righteous [Romans 3:20-24, 5:9-11 & 8:1; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8].

He is transcendent and yet everywhere present, so His justice is always objective while His grace and mercy are always faithfully at hand.

He is infinite, so His justice is not limited in any way. He is eternal, so His justice contains all of our finite existence, but will endure for all eternity.

God is just.

Have you ever found yourself questioning this truth? Do you know others who question God’s justice? Often this is because we don’t like that God’s justice means there is a right way and a wrong way. But as God said to Cain nearly 6,000 years ago, If you do what is right, will you not be accepted [Genesis 4:7]?



Hazy Copies

“They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'” Hebrews 8:5

Image result for copy of a copyA copy is never identical to the original. But it is clearer and more accurate than subsequent copies. Meaning, if someone were to make a photocopy, then make a photocopy from that copy and so on, each copy becomes hazier and less accurate than the first.

It’s the same way with our understanding of and patterning after God. We are called to be like Christ [1 John 3:2]. If we are in Christ, our hearts are being built into a living tabernacle, acceptable to God [1 Peter 2:5]. We ourselves are to be a copy of the original.

God made us in His image at the Creation. Christ makes us anew and the Holy Spirit reforms the Father’s image in us, but only if we pattern ourselves after Him.

God is good. While our goodness can never save us, in Christ by faith we do the good works God intended us to do from the Creation [Ephesians 2:10]. Without God, how would even know what good is?

Many, however, accept hand-me-down faith. They attend church from childhood and become a copy of the people in the church. Maybe the pastor is a great man of God. Maybe the choir leader has a great heart for worshiping God. Maybe our teachers genuinely know and love God. Maybe our parents and grandparents are people of true faith. These are all good things. And these people are all good role models.

However, their lives–like ours–ultimately fall short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23]. They themselves are still in the process of being transformed by the renewing of their minds [Romans 12:2]. Patterning ourselves after any one of them will make us an untrue version of another person rather than a genuine copy of Christ.

God is good and we are the light of His goodness to the world around us. Are you patterning your life after the original through prayer and Bible study? Or are you living as a copy of a copy?


Created for Good

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31

Image result for feeding hungryGod is good.

Many automatically respond to this truth with the pithy chorus, *All the time!* And while there is some truth therein, it is a limited truth turned into a reflexive, religious chant. How many reply in vain, having forgotten or never fully known what God’s goodness truly means?

And why don’t we realize the fullness of His goodness? Could it be because we don’t live it forward as we were created to do?

We were created in God’s image [Genesis 1:26-27]. So then each of His attributes were meant to be an integral part of our own character. But sin deposed God from the throne of our hearts so that humankind is not born basically good, as philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau surmised. Nor even basically evil, as philosopher Thomas Hobbes argued. Rather, we are born sinful–which means that we are separated from God because of our fallen human nature which itself desires to be its own god.

When self is god, then self gets to decide what is good. And self is only interested in what is good for self. God’s goodness, though, is panoptic and it is all-encompassing. God’s goodness flows from His infinite wisdom and omniscience. He sees all, hears all, knows all about all for all of created time, and He works toward the overarching good of everyone in all of human history.

That is quite the difference from our self-limiting goodness. Because when everyone does what is right in their own eyes [Judges 17:6 & 21:25], the result is that everyone visits evil on everyone else. Not always maliciously and intentionally, but even unintentional and accidental effects of our choices can bring great harm to others.

That is why scriptures implore us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect [Matthew 5:48]. Not that we can actually, in this life, attain to perfect goodness at all times–we can’t. But we can become more like Christ everyday through the Holy Spirit working in us [Matthew 16:24-26; Luke 9:23; John 14:26; Romans 12:2; Galatians 3:26-28].

And just as God breathed life into the first man Adam [Genesis 2:7] and proclaimed that His Creation was very good, so also Jesus’ last breath on the cross created us anew to do the good works we abandoned after the advent of sin [Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30; Ephesians 2:10]. But only if we choose to accept God’s grace by faith. And only if we then choose to surrender our lives to His Lordship so that we may be His instrument of goodness in a lost and dying world.

Are you allowing yourself daily to be made into the image of Christ? Does God’s goodness flow freely through your life?


Side by Side

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

See the source imageGod is transcendent. He is equally above the highest earthly authority and the basest of criminals. He is equally above the ordinary good guy and the saintliest of saints.

Just as we grade levels of badness, rank acts of evil and sort them from minor wrongdoings, so too we rate our own goodness. How do I measure up when compared to another human being? I’m not as good as Mother Theresa, but I’m not as bad as my drunken neighbor who beats his family.

But that’s all human perception, and actually, human misperception. Sure our faith should spur us on to good works [James 2:17-26], but those good works do not save us [Ephesians 2:8-9]. Rather, by God’s infinite grace, it is our finite faith that saves us. And while we will each have to give an account of ourselves to God [Romans 14:12], it is only the Christ in us that will justify us before our heavenly Father [Romans 5:1-2].

Consider walking across a beach. Each grain of sand is so small underfoot that we don’t register which ones are larger and which ones are smaller. We are equally larger than the minute variations in each of the millions of grains of sand that make up a single beach.

Or consider the stars. The distance to each one from the earth varies considerably. Yet to the naked human eye, the night sky paints them all as if they were hung side by side.

It’s not a perfect analogy–nothing is when we try to fit our infinite God into our finite understanding–but it gives us a very basic idea of all this transcendence business.

When we stand before God, it’s all going to come down to the same thing–faith in Christ. God loves each of us the same. God sees each of our sinful natures the same. And God’s goodness is equally above any and every good work that we find to do. He has no favorites [Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25]!

Do you think of yourself more highly than you ought [Romans 12:3]? Are you resting on your own merit? Or, through faith, are you resting on God’s grace–Christ?


We Say God Almighty

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!'” Revelation 19:6-7a

Image result for God's awesome powerGod’s omnipotence–His absolute and supreme power–will resound in our praises throughout eternity. After this life has passed by, we will see and know God face to face, in the same way that He already knows each and everyone of us [1 Corinthians 13:12]. So we will, uninhibited, lift our voices and take up the song of the cherubim who, day and night, never stop praising our Holy, Almighty God [Revelation 4:8].

Let this amazing truth penetrate the business of your thought life and any doubt or fear that vies for your attention. God is all-powerful. And He alone will be worshiped for eternity because He alone is Almighty God.

Did you feel the Spirit of that sentiment? Read it again.

God alone is all-powerful–everyone and everything else on this earth that presumes to exercise authority over human circumstance will one day take a knee before God alone [Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11]. No evil will prevail over heaven’s gates, nor will Satan’s spiritual war tread anywhere near the new heaven and the new earth. None can trespass into eternity. Only God’s adopted children–by grace through faith [Ephesians 2:8-9]–will have a place in His kingdom come.

And we will praise Him alone as should always have been done on earth as it is and will be in heaven [Matthew 6:10].

No one and nothing else even registers on the power scale as compared to God. Cancer’s got nothing. Murdering dictators will fall before God. Peer opinion. The pursuit of popularity. Self-induced panic attacks and world-induced economic depressions. War and death. None of it has any power whatsoever in light of Almighty God.

Let us not do as the world teaches and focus on ourselves. Instead, let’s get back to God’s Word and start living like heaven. Fix your eyes on your Creator God. Recognize His omnipotence at work in the world all around us and give all praise to Him alone.

Respond to His power and authority alone, refusing to succumb to the weak wiles of the adversary at work in the world. When the doctor says cancer, we say God Almighty. When the news says pandemic, stock market crash, war, genocide we say God Almighty. When the world says be your own god, do whatever feels good to you, we say God Almighty. When others mistreat us out of their own selfish godlessness, we say God Almighty. And when our breath at last returns to the Creator from whom it came, we will forever praise God Almighty.

What power holds your attention in this life? The things of this world? Or God Almighty and Him alone?


Conduits of Power

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Image result for water hoseGod is omnipotent, that is, He alone is almighty or all-powerful.

And He gives us His Spirit [Numbers 11:17; Judges 14:6; Acts 1:8; et al], enabling us, by His power, to bring glory and honor to His name.

By His Spirit, Moses and David led Israel [Numbers 11:17 & 25; 1 Samuel 16:13]. Samson tore apart a lion, effortlessly broke through sturdy rope bindings and battled dozens of men all at the same time [Judges 14:6 & 19, 15:14]. Mary bore the Christ-child [Luke 1:35]. Demons were cast out [Luke 4:36]. And we are empowered to live as witnesses to the truth of the gospel [Acts 1:8].

God’s Spirit doesn’t hide timidly inside us. So neither should we shrink back from a contrary world. Our friends and family might not want to hear about God anymore than they want to hear that eating vegetables and exercising are good for them, but they need us to speak God’s love boldly. They need us to live out the blessings–extreme joyfulness–of the godly, self-disciplined life.

Because–just like we once did–they need God. They need His power to transform their sinful hearts and finite lives into the eternal ones they were made for.

The power of God’s Spirit overflows us with that hope [Romans 15:13]. Did you hear that? Let me say it again. The power of God’s Spirit overflows us with hope!

By God’s power alone we have peace in a war-torn, hating world–even while we ourselves are persecuted for that peace who is called Jesus [Ephesians 2:14]. By His power alone we have joy–though we ourselves get sick, face financial hardships, lose loved ones, get mistreated and threatened for our faith. By the power of His Spirit in our lives we have an abundance of hope that exceeds our finite capacity to hold it, and He keeps pouring the power and hope in and through us until we overflow with hope to everyone around us!

The power of God was never meant to lift us, whimpering, out of the gutter of self-pity or guilt–but it does. And it will do so faithfully and without criticism time and again. When it does–and we have been filled with all the power, joy, peace and hope that we can possibly need–then it’s time to go to work. It’s time to walk around like a fountain with legs and gush God’s power and love into the lives of everyone we meet.

Anything less is denying God’s power in our lives. Anything less is disobedience. Anything less withholds our blessing, locked within the timidity of our hearts.

Are you ready to be a walking conduit of God’s power to this lost and dying world?


A Pinch of God’s Power?

“One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: ‘Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love;’ and, ‘You reward everything according to what they have done.'” Psalm 62:11-12

Image result for pinch of saltGod is omnipotent–that is all powerful. He is the Almighty because all might [aka power] is in Him alone.

How many human beings have dreamed of attaining to God’s power? Just watch the superhero movies and read the magical fantasies. We as people want so bad to have just a pinch of His might in our beings because it would make us stand out from every other created being. Because then we wouldn’t have to be afraid of anyone or anything else. Because we believe that we would be good enough to wield such power on behalf of our fellow man.

But, if we’re honest with ourselves, at the core of the desire to possess super-human ability is Satan’s lie that we can be our own God [Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 14:14]. The same lie, repackaged with a shinier bow, promising that we can possess power above all others.

Not possible. Any power that we possess is given to us from and ultimately returns to our Creator God.

He alone has the power to make everything out of nothing. He alone has the power to hang planets in the vast expanse of the universe and to light the flame of sun and stars. He alone has the power to create life. He alone has the power to conquer death, hell and the grave.

What human or angel or creature or demon can do any of those things? None. No one but God is able.

And yet, God is willing–no more than that, God desires to imbue us with His power from on high [Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:7]. He desires to work in and through us [Ephesians 3:20]. He desires that we will share in the work of Christ and do even greater things–beyond what we can ask or imagine–to His glory and honor [John 14:12].

Who is like the Lord [Psalm 113:5]? Who can stand against His mighty power [Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4-5; Romans 8:31; Ephesians 6:11]? Where does your strength come from [Psalm 28:7 & 121:1-2]?