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The Real God - The Justice Of God, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
September 3, 2021 6:00 am

The Real God - The Justice Of God, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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September 3, 2021 6:00 am

Inside each of us is an innate sense of justice. When we see wrong, we want it put right. What does this reveal to us about God's justice? Are they related? Join Chip as he begins this talk on the justice of God.


You know, injustice is a big buzzword right now. I was playing golf the other day with a guy I'd never met, and about hole number two, he turns to me and says, So you talk about God, you say? Well, let me ask you this.

Why do bad things happen to good people? What I'm going to share today is what I would share with him. Stick around. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge features the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram on this daily discipleship program.

I'm Dave Druey. Chip's in a series called The Real God, talking about seven key characteristics that describe who God really is. The first four characteristics Chip dug into were God's goodness, His sovereignty and holiness, and His wisdom. To hear those messages, you can catch up anytime on the Chip Ingram app. Now in this program, we begin a two day study of God's justice.

In a world that appears to be careening out of control, the question that keeps getting louder and louder is where's God? Chip tackles it head on, so I'm glad you're with us. You know, you may have a friend who needs to hear this message.

If you do, just tell him to get the Chip Ingram app to listen anytime. Okay, let's get started. Here's Chip with his talk from Genesis chapter 18. If this message were in a little wrapper and it was the justice of God, there would be a little sticker in the corner. And the little sticker would be in that bright yellow and it would say, warning. This message may be hazardous to your health. We have talked about many of the attributes of God, but the one that we will talk about on this time together requires us to think at a level of clarity that is uncommon for most of us and it requires us to have a sense of sobriety, of seriousness, a sense of what's at stake if we're going to really hear from God. And so I would encourage you that even as we get started that you pray and say, Lord, I'm a human being and like all human beings, I have practiced and become very good at denial. I've learned how to fool myself. I've learned how to fool other people. I've learned to play all kind of games, but I need you to take the spiritual wax out of my ears, to take any calluses that are on my heart. I need you to help me hear clearly and to see accurately, okay?

There are two questions that I find disturb believers and unbelievers alike. I mean, I can go to a mall. I can go to a park. I can go to a church. I can talk with Christian leaders.

I can talk to absolute pagans and I can tell you there are two questions that they struggle with, we struggle with, and everyone struggles with. Question number one is why do bad things happen to good people? I was six days after the tsunami hit. I was at a beach where 160 people were out for a daily walk on Sunday morning and they heard an interesting sound, had no idea what it was, and a huge wave comes in, sweeps them off the beach, takes them out, and they're gone. I walked around the corner and I saw a big shipping area, not like as in little fishing boats, but I mean big fishing boats that were the livelihood of this village of a few hundred thousand people, and I saw huge ships just tilted like this. How does a good God let tsunamis hit and kill tens of thousands of people? How does a good God let a 9-11 terrorist attack occur where innocent people, you know, some guy kissed his wife and said, honey, I'll see you later. I've got a business trip and gets on a plane from Pittsburgh and it ends up decimated in the ground. Or some gal, you know, puts on her makeup and goes up to about the 62nd floor and she's just there early doing her work and all of a sudden she hears all kinds of sirens go off and a plane has hit the building and she scurries downstairs that are crowded and packed with screaming people and her family really doesn't know whether she made it out or not. All they know is there's no remains and they ask why. A 39-year-old guy, a friend of mine that I know, great health, good shape, took care of himself, three kids, massive heart attack.

Why? One of the hardest things my son faced, he had a young man that grew up in our church who was unbelievably musically talented. He literally, I've never seen anyone where he just sort of played around and pretty soon he could play the piano, didn't take any lessons and he watched someone else and he picked up a mandolin and then he played the guitar and then he saw someone else playing something else and he could just sit down and God gave him these amazing songs and he and my son would make this music in my garage and then travel all over the country and do their thing and John was always skinny and we would, you know, we'd really kid him and give him a hard time. I mean, he was like thin as in all the jokes, you know, John turned sideways and he disappears and he always had a little bit of a stomach problem and no one thought much of it but I remember the day I got a call and they finally found out what was wrong and John is 25 years old and he had cancer and nine months later, I remember sitting around his bed and one of the worship leaders in our church was with the guitar singing and his mom and his dad and myself and my son and we sat around and we prayed as we watched the last parts of life ebb out of John and I get in the car with my boy and he's been raised in a Christian home.

I mean, his dad's a pastor, it's me and my son looks me in the eye and goes, Dad, Dad, I mean, that guy has more musical ability in his little finger than I have in my whole body and he's already written songs that we're singing in our church and his passion was to do this for God. Dad, why? And you could tell me stories of the cancer that hit people that you love in the car wreck and the drunk driver. Everyone struggles with this question, why do bad things happen to good people? And there's a second question. In fact, I have more problems with this one.

I do. My confession is why do good things happen to bad people? I mean, you look at the corporate excesses and you have people now after years getting a little slap on the wrist and executives who defrauded people of hundreds of millions of dollars going home with a little parachute of 10 or 12 million dollars as they run out the back door and then they interview grandmothers who had their life savings in the company who are absolutely broke, 77 years old, have absolutely nothing and they have zero and this guy that hoodwinked everybody walks out the back door with 10 or 12 million dollars and I don't know about you, I not only get angry, I'm thinking, hey God, where is the justice here? All of us have been in a corporation or a job site or even in high school and you found someone that you knew, they lied, they cheated on tests, they were anti-God, they were arrogant, they were the kind of people that the word jerk was made for and it just seems like the blessing of God is on their life.

It's like they don't have any struggles, they don't have any problems, they get the pretty girlfriend, they get on the fast track, they have the nice home, they got the nice car and you're going, hello. Why do good things happen to bad people? And these two questions, there's something underneath of them.

See, underneath these two questions is a big issue. The real issue is life's not fair, right? I mean the problem with the bad things happen to good people is that's not fair and the problem with good things happen to bad people is that's not fair and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to say, okay, life doesn't seem very fair. Now who created life? God and if God created life, then the real question is, is God fair? Is God just?

Does He judge rightly? People have a very, very, very difficult time, believers and unbelievers but one of the things you have going for you is you have the best explanation to this problem because you have what's called a biblical world view. You don't have some sort of a wacky dualism of there's a good God and a bad God and they're in competition and there's the dark side of the force and the white side of the force and all this jazz of trying to figure out who's gonna win. Your biblical world view definitely helps you understand because let me give you your biblical world view.

I want you to imagine this is a timeline right here beginning right here is eternity past and there's an arrow and this arrow goes right to here for eternity future and what your world view and my world view tells you is this is that before time began we have Genesis chapter one and Genesis chapter two. We're right here and God creates a perfect fair just environment where He loves His people that He's created. He gives them all the world. He says be fruitful and multiply.

He has intimate communion with them and it is a perfect paradise or environment and that's the first two chapters of human existence. Then there's a parenthesis. There's a parenthesis that started right here and in Genesis chapter three there is a coup.

There is a rebellion. There is a entrance of sin into the world and with that comes a judgment. Sin is judged. Mankind is taken out of the garden. The tree of life is now guarded by cherubim so that this death or separation will not be permanent and what we have in the Bible and what we have in our experience it's called the fall. You live in a fallen world. What we know is the world that we live in is not the world God intended. The world that we live in is a fallen world. We live in a world that has cancer.

We live in a world that has a disease. We live in a world that does not reflect the goodness and the purity and the holiness of God but it was allowed by Him for reasons we talked about earlier. So in this parenthesis the whole story of mankind's history is Genesis chapter three.

You're inside of a parenthesis and you have the story of the old and the New Testament. You get all the way in the entire rest of the Bible all the way up to Revelation chapter 20 is God working with people in light of a fallen world and His redemptive plan and at chapter 20 you have another judgment and it's called the great white throne judgment where God takes all the injustice and all the pain and all the bad things done to good people and all the good things done to bad people and He takes all the scales and He says a day will come when He will make everything right and He will judge all men of all time according to their works and then the parenthesis ends and we're in chapter 21 and there's a new heaven and there's a new earth and it's a perfect environment and there's no pain and there's no tears and everything will be as it should be again but here's what you need to remember is that you live inside the parenthesis. See God is just, God is fair but you live in a fallen world where His justice is not meted out in space-time history in a way that is corollary to what we think ought to be when it actually happens and so there are injustices. Life is not fair, I mean if you haven't figured that one out, life is not fair in a world that where sin dominates but it raises a very, very important question. How can we trust God in a world that is fallen? How can you depend on a God where life doesn't seem fair? How can we learn to think soberly and clearly about what it means inside the parenthesis of Genesis 3 to Revelation and 2? How do we live this life and worship God who is just in the midst of a fallen world and that's what I want to talk about today. Let's begin by defining the justice of God.

What do we mean when we say justice? The first preview I see in the scriptures is with Abraham in Genesis 18 verse 25, you probably know this story. Abraham's a man of God, he's called by God.

God is going to make a great nation out of him. He and his nephew Lot have both grown in their livestock and so Lot goes this direction and chooses this area because it looks good and Abraham continues where he was and God says here's all the promises I'm going to fulfill and Lot ends up in Sodom and Gomorrah, right? And it's called Sodom and Gomorrah for a reason and it is sinful and it is evil and that iniquity rises up to God and so the triune God determines that they're going to judge it and he says can I keep this from my servant Abraham and as you know the story what you find is that there's this very special meeting where God appears to Abraham and he lets him in on his plan and what you have in Genesis 18 verse 25 is he quickly does the math and remember the story if there were 50 righteous, if there were 45 righteous, if there were 40 and I mean he literally negotiates with the God of heaven and the basis of his negotiation is verse 25. He says far be it from you to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike, far be it from you will not the judge of all the earth do right. Now remember Abraham does not have the Old Testament written, he certainly doesn't have the New Testament written, he has no written revelation, he's had experiences with God, God has spoken to him but here's what he knows intrinsically about the character of God, he's fair, he's just and he's saying to him wait a second I know you, I know what you're like, okay I know there's all this evil in the city but there's this pocket of people that I love, they're righteous, it would be unfair and unjust and wrong for you to kill the wicked with the righteous and on the basis of your just character I'm going to appeal to you and then he goes through the negotiation until he gets it down to the number of people of Lot and his family and his life but what I want you to hear is Abraham even in a fallen world appealed to God's justice as the basis for dealing with the thing that was best on his heart.

Notice what it says in Psalm 97 2, it says clouds and thick darkness surround him, righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. You could do a little study, Job 8 3, Job 40 verse 6, Psalm 11 7, Psalm 45 6, Isaiah 51 6, Isaiah 30 18, Zephaniah 3 5, I could go on and on and on, here's what I want you to hear, old and new testament, proclaim, proclaim, proclaim, proclaim, God is just, God is righteous, God is just, God is righteous, God is fair, the foundation of his throne, the basis of how God deals with everything, God will never give anyone a raw deal, it's what his justice is all about. Tozer writes justice embodies the idea of moral equity and inequity is the exact opposite, it is the inequity, the absence of equality from human thoughts and acts. Judgment is the application of equity to moral situations and may be favorable or unfavorable according to whether the one under examination has been equitable or inequitable in heart and contact. Justice is not something God possesses, justice is not an external standard that says this is right, this is wrong, this is fair, it is in the very essence and the nature of his character, he is justice and all moral law, all commands are merely a reflection of the justice and the character of God.

There's something interesting that you need to know about justice and Packard I think describes it well. J. I. Packard in Knowing God writes, it becomes clear that the Bible's proclamation of God's work as judge is part of his witness to his character. It shows us also that the heart of justice which expresses God's nature is retribution.

Will you circle that word in your notes? The heart of justice which expresses God's nature is retribution. You know what retribution is?

You do this, therefore you get this for doing it. Now he goes on to explain, the rendering to men what they have deserved for this is the essence of a judge's task. To reward good with good and evil with evil is natural to God. So when the New Testament speaks of the final judgment, it always represents it in terms of retribution. God will judge all men it says according to their works. At the heart of this concept of justice is this, everyone gets what they really deserve. Everyone. Everyone gets what they really deserve.

No one will ever get a raw deal. Now inside this parenthesis in a fallen world, everyone is not going to get what they really deserve inside the parenthesis at the time in a one to one correlation with how events occur. But even though we live in a fallen world where sin marrs our concept in the timing of justice, God wants you to know that he's just. That he's fair. That as you trust him in the big picture of this all-knowing, sovereign, all-wise God, you will never ever be treated unfairly.

And that means that you can trust him. Now how has God revealed his justice to us? In what ways has God revealed it in a fallen world so that we can trust him?

You always have to remember you're in the parenthesis. You never get one to one justice 100% unless it's before the world begins or until there's a new heaven and a new earth. But inside the fallen world there's about three or four different ways that God has revealed to us that he is just so you can trust him even when it seems like in our experience it's very hard to do. The first way he reveals his justice is through the natural order. Romans chapter one verses 18 to 20.

Let me read it. It says the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. Since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities, that means his attributes, his eternal power and his divine nature have been clearly seen being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse. He's saying that the creation and how God has made creation is invisible attributes, not just his goodness and beauty in creation, not just his otherness and holiness and purity, but God's justice. As you look at creation you will see what?

There is some cause and effect relationship. You will see that God is just, that we have intrinsically in nature revealed that people know this is right, this is wrong. You can study anthropology and look at every tribe any place in all the world and they will have a list of rules. It's wrong to kill.

It's wrong to take another man's wife. The rules will change, but people have this internal sense of ought that they get that this is right and this is wrong. The only way you have an internal sense of ought of what's right and what's wrong is that the world that you live in is communicating to you that there is a sense of accountability. There's a sense that when you do things wrong, we're going to see in just a second, there's a conscience. And even observing the world order, even in pop culture, what's the old saying, when I grew up, when you would diss someone or do something to hurt them, someone would come up and say, you know what, everything that goes around comes around.

What is that? That's justice, isn't it? You know what, you do that to him, this is going to happen to you.

You do that over here, this is going to happen to you. Or even multiple eastern religions who are looking at the world and trying to figure out and they watch the cycles of the earth, the whole concept of karma is what? What's behind the sense of karma? Justice. In other words, if you jack around with people and you hurt people and if you're cruel and you're this man, you're going to come back as a grasshopper. You know, right? And you know, if you're a really good person, you're going to come back as a cow.

I'm not sure you gain a whole lot on that thing, tell you the truth. But you have people living their lives with a mindset that they've seen from the created order based on what? There is a sense of justice, there's a sense of you will pay for what you do.

It comes around, it goes around. Cause, cause, effect, effect. God has revealed his justice through the created order. Second, God has revealed it through the human heart. Romans chapter 2 verses 15 and 16. Since they show that the requirements of the law, this idea of a standard, this sense of ought, this sense of there's a moral right and a moral wrong. Since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them, this will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. God has put on the human heart, totally apart from scripture, a sense of ought or should, of right or wrong, of a conscience that bears witness. Long before I became a Christian, and long before the spirit of God was living in my life, I clearly knew certain things were right and certain things were wrong, and when I either thought or did the things that were wrong, what happened to my conscience? It condemned me and said, Chip, that's bad, that's wrong. That's how it works.

Why? God placed that in me like he placed it in you. Even people without any revelation, people that don't know about Christ, this is in the human heart.

It's one of the reasons we're without excuse. Everybody knows by what they see that there's a day of judgment, and everyone knows by what God has placed inside your heart, there's gonna be a day of judgment. Let me give you a New Testament example. Flip, if you will, to Acts chapter 28. Acts chapter 28.

It's very interesting. It's a pagan group. As you turn there, Paul is on a missionary journey, and he's got these Roman soldiers, and they have a shipwreck, and they end up on an island, and so they're gathering some wood is the context, and there's these tribes, and there's an event that occurs, and it's so interesting. Now, these are not Christians.

These are not people that have any idea of the true God, but pick up the story with me in verse three. Paul is on this island after the shipwreck, and Paul gathers a pile of brushwood, and as he put it on the fire, a viper driven out by the heat fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, this man must be a murderer, for though he escaped from the sea, here's our word, justice has not allowed him to live.

Wait a second. Where'd they get that idea? All he was doing was gathering a little wood, helping out, put the wood on the fire, the flames come up, and a viper comes up, and what's in their thinking? Cause effect. Bad things happen to who? Bad people. People get punished for doing bad, correct? He must have done something very bad because something very bad is just happening to him. That's their logic, and notice this invisible concept. It's not like God is going to, what's it say? Justice has not allowed him to live.

There's this idea among these islander tribespeople that there's this thing called justice that operates in life. Notice it goes on. Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting for a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. It's consistent, isn't it? Bad things happen to bad people. Nothing happens, must be a god. He's not only good, he is so powerful and so good and so amazing that what should have killed him, the consequences didn't happen, so he must be, but do you see the logic? The only point I'm trying to make is there's something in our hearts. There's something in our hearts, even apart from Revelation, that tells us that there is justice and if there is justice, what C.S. Lewis's point will be in mere Christianity is there must be a judge.

You cannot have a sense of justice without a judge. You've been listening to the first part of Chip's message, The Justice of God, from his series The Real God. He'll be back with his application, but before he is, let me give you a quick sketch of this series overall. In The Real God, Chip looks at seven key attributes of God's character and explains that none of them is ever diminished or overshadowed by the others, which means that God is 100% love, 100% just, and 100% merciful. Kind of mind-bending when you think about it that way, and why it becomes a lifelong adventure to get to know him for who he really is. A great way to learn how these attributes of God work together is to do this study with a small group of friends. So, for a limited time, the small group resources for The Real God are discounted because we want to do everything we can to help you get a clear, accurate view of God. To place your order or to get more information on The Real God, go to, tap Special Offers on the Chip Ingram app, or give us a call at 888-333-6003.

That's 888-333-6003. I want to take just a moment to talk about something today that's very important. You know, you might engage with Living on the Edge, and obviously you are. You may be listening to me on an app or radio,

Maybe you were in a small group study, or you took a course online, or maybe even read a book that I had the privilege of writing. God, to my amazement, and it humbles me, is using Living on the Edge in incredible ways. I just have to tell you, we get testimonies from people about restoration and healing and God using them to help other people. Then I want to tell you very, very candidly that we are very serious about using the money and the resources that God gives very carefully and very wisely. But I also want to bring to your attention that it actually takes money for airtime. These teams that create these resources and all the things that happen behind Living on the Edge, there's a group of people with costs involved that allow you to hear me or be in a small group or get teaching. Here's who I'm talking to.

If you have been helped and encouraged, I mean literally blessed by Living on the Edge, and you happen to be one of those people that has never given financially to the ministry, I just want to pause and say, would you consider partnering with us to help us help other people? Maybe it's a one-time gift. Maybe it's a small amount that you want to do monthly. I don't know. Here's the deal. Would you just be willing to say, Lord, do you want me to do this?

For some of you, you can't. That's fine. But just ask that honest question, and if God leads you to give, I will tell you we'll use it wisely, we'll invest it in ministry, and we're going to help a lot of people. So thanks for prayerfully considering to do whatever God chose you to do. If you're already a financial partner, thank you. With your help, Living on the Edge is ministering to more people than ever before. And if you're benefiting from Chip's teaching but haven't yet taken that step, now would be a great time to join the team. To send a gift or become a monthly partner, donate online at, tap donate on the app, or give us a call at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003. Your partnership is greatly appreciated.

Now here's Chip with his application. We started today's program by raising two questions. One, why do bad things happen to good people? And two, why do good things happen to bad people? And what we learned is life is not fair, but God is. It's a fallen world, and this world is not what God intended. And so bad things on occasion do happen to good people, and good things unexplainably happen to bad people. Yet God has clearly revealed His justice through this natural order. And through the end of the broadcast, I talked about how we do reap what we sow and how everything that goes around does come around.

And so here's a challenge I have for you as you think about your life in this tiny experiment called time. Are you fair? I mean, I don't know about you, I get really hot when people don't treat me fairly, but I don't ask the question, am I fair?

Are you? Would people describe you as a fair boss, a fair dad, a fair mom, a fair student, a just person? And then secondly, a word of comfort. I don't know what you're going through, but I want you to take it to the bank that God is fair and that He will balance the scales no matter how difficult, no matter how unjust life has been to you, either in this life or in the next. I guarantee on the character of God, He will balance the scales.

It will be fair, and you can rest in that. You know, an easy way to share Chip's message is with the Chip Ingram app. With just a couple of taps, any message you choose is on its way to someone you love or on social media to help others who could benefit from the truth of Scripture and its encouragement. And don't forget to include a quick note about how it made a difference in your life. We'll be with us again next time when Chip continues his series, The Real God. Until then, this is Dave Drouys saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-08 16:52:44 / 2023-09-08 17:05:00 / 12

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