Justice, forgiveness and offence

God is holy, loving and just. On one hand he loves us, but on the other hand He will not let the guilty go unpunished.  “God is love.” 1 John 4.8b “Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished.” Exodus 34.7b

 

God gave this commandment to Noah after the flood: Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God, God made man. Genesis 9.6 God commands justice, not only to Noah, but in the code of law he gave to Moses for Israel too. Examples of this in the Bible are when God raised up Ehud to kill Eglon, led Solomon to execute Joab, Jehu to execute the murderous house of Ahab and righteous priests to execute Queen Athaliah. Queen Esther the executed the would-be-murderer Haman.

 

One might claim that God only permitted these actions and didn’t actually endorse them, but in the context of the specific Biblical commands given to Noah and Moses, this seems hard to maintain.  The fact that God specifically marks out David and Saul/Paul for mercy is an indicator that this was not the norm.

 

Romans 13 tells us that capital punishment should be carried out by the magistrates, because they “do not bear the sword in vain.” Psalms 2 tells us that rulers should “kiss the Son”:

“Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

 

The Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28 tells us that Christians should teach the nations to obey everything Jesus commanded us. Jesus affirmed “You have heard it said ‘you shall not murder’” and therefore we should be teaching the magistrates about justice so that we are true salt and the lighthouse of the world. We must “See to it that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15

 

I think this is probably one reason why the Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to “Devote [himself] to the public reading of scripture…” and also told his follower to “entrust [Paul’s true teaching] to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also”. (2 Timothy 2.2) Let us not forget that the book of Luke and the book of Acts were written by Luke to “most honorable Theophilus” who was a Governor so that he might “know and have certainly concerning the things [he had] been taught.”

 

In any case, we will be acting in accordance with our own prayers if we teach rulers about righteousness, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” -1 Timothy 2.1-4

People are going to find it harder to come to salvation if they are entrapped by more societal sins. If they have been lied to more and given over to practice unrighteousness (Romans 1, 2 Thess 2). The harming of bodies is sometimes irreversible ie. transgender. We need to hold back those going to destruction (https://bible.com/bible/59/pro.24.10-12.ESV) as we have opportunity we are commanded to do good to one another and to everyone. We must not passively let them die the way they want to die.

 

Capital punishment for murder is carried out in most cases in the Bible. However, Moses, King David and the Apostle Paul were convicted only by God who gave them grace as an exception to the rule. They repented, and God took control of their lives by his Holy Spirit and used them for his glory. This was to show God’s kindness while just punishment for their sins was borne in the body of Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus died once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God. Please, turn from your sin and trust Jesus. When you do, you will know Jesus for sure, he said so: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14.21. He said, “No one who comes to me will I cast out.” He will never leave you or forsake you.

 

The Lord Jesus exemplified his grace to a man sentenced justly to capital punishment by the Roman judicial system, who was on the cross next to him. The man freely admitted that he was there justly, and then turned to Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus said, “Truly, truly, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

The people before Jesus looked forward in time to his sacrifice by faith in God. The blood of goats and bulls cannot take away sins. But God can completely forgive people and save them from judgement and hell. Here is how:

Hebrews 9:26

“for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

 

Romans 4

5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

   and whose sins are covered;

8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

 

Offence was taken throughout Acts to the preaching of the Gospel.

Did those men sin in their delivery? Some got stoned, people plotted to kill them, the town rioted. They picked up stones to stone Jesus.

Or was Jesus right when he said “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers of the false prophets.”

The parable of the sower explains how it will be when people hear the true and genuine word of God. Some Gospel seed falls on rocks, some on the path, some among thorns, and still more on good soil. Of those good soil hearers who understand what is communicated, some bear 30 times as much seed, some 50 and some 100 times. The farmer is indiscriminate. The power is within the seed (which, another parable tells us, grows “all by itself”) so he scatters it everywhere. One sows, another waters, but God gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3.6-7) God also tells us “The Gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes…” Romans 1.16

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