COEXIST… or maybe don’t

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Coexistence is the new idea that is running rampantly across the United States and is finding itself plastered across countless bumpers and windows. What is this new idea and why has it become so widely popular?

The dictionary defines coexistence as “a policy of living peacefully with other nations, religions, etc., despite fundamental disagreements.” Well that does not sound so bad does it? It actually sounds like a good idea. But society today seems to have conjured up a different definition. Today, coexisting means accepting other world views and philosophies as our own, even if it goes against what we believe in. Coexistence calls us to reject our truth by declaring that ALL views are truth. Those who refuse to do this are viewed as hateful and stubborn.

Now this presents a problem. How can every worldview be the right answer? Surely there can only be one truth! Say there is a red balloon. It can only be a red balloon. Some may view it as a green balloon or even not a balloon at all, but it is still a red balloon. Some may argue about what shade of red the balloon is, but it can still be only one shade of red, regardless if people know what that shade truly is or not. There can only be one truth. On his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained this principle, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). What Jesus is saying here is that many people will try to find a way to eternal life, but will be wrong. Only a few enter through the one and only way.

More than that, we know that God wants us to spread the truth. He told us this in the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20) Clearly we are called to evangelize. We are called to tell people the one and only truth.

The problem is that people get offended when we attempt to carry out our mission.  They claim that we are trying to “shove our beliefs down their throats.” They say that our pursue of the truth is intolerant and insensitive. But this is not a surprise! Jesus knew that our evangelism would turn the world into chaos and told us so. He said in Matthew 10:34-36, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.'” In fact, this was predicted long before Jesus even came to earth. In his remarks, Jesus was actually quoting Micah 7:6. So this must be important! What Jesus is saying is that he knows that Christianity will stir controversy in the world, so much so that it will rip families apart. At first this verse seems harsh, but as we take a look around, we can see that its truth is ringing throughout the world today. Debates, arguments, controversy: all of these are running rampant throughout our society as people reject the gospel truth. We are not called to “conform to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2), or to coexist it is called today, but to share the good news and not be hindered.

The main objection people have to the rejection of coexistence as the world defines it today is love. Aren’t Christian supposed to love one another?

The answer is YES. A million times yes.

We Christians have gotten the reputation of sitting on our high seat and judging from afar. But those people are right. We are called to love. You may be thinking that rejecting coexistence and loving cannot work together. The subtle but very important detail here is that we are supposed to love the people not necessarily their beliefs. I think so many times we confuse these two things and focus on proving people wrong and boycotting them instead of loving them. This is where Christianity gets its bad reputation. How much more effective could our evangelism become if only we showed the love and compassion that Jesus Christ showed us ourselves!



Freewill vs. Predestination


This problem has confused many Christians for centuries and has started many debates in the church. What’s the big deal? Why is the solution to this problem so difficult to find? Well first let’s explore why it is such a problem before trying to uncover the solution.

It is undeniable that God has given man free will to some extent. When he created us, he wanted to create creatures that were capable of choice, not mere unemotional robots or puppets. Many verses in the Bible talk about man choosing whether or not to follow God, some including Mark 8:34 and John 7:17. The Bible makes it clear that God does not force us to love him but that we choose to.

On the other hand, the Bible also seems to allude to the fact that God chooses who he desires to become believers. Ephesians 1:4-5 says that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world” and that he “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.” Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,” and in John 16:15, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you.” The Bible clearly states that God chooses us to be believers in him. John 16:15 even says that we do not have the ability to choose him.

So do you see the problem now?

How can the Bible possibly say that we are free to choose Christ, but at the same time, only God can choose who will be saved? These two ideas seem to contradict each other.

First we must define exactly what we mean when we say free will. Most would define free will as every man’s ability to choose his own destiny, to be able to determine what his own fate will turn out to be. But we need to be careful because there is a distinguishable difference between free will and self-determination. Self-determination is the ability to be the ultimate deciding factor in one’s own fate. No one in all of creation is self-determining; only God is. Before we have looked at Scriptures that clearly state that God chooses who will be a member of the body of Christ. So really he is the only one who has the power and authority to decide one’s destiny.

We do not have self-determining free will, but we can still look at the Biblical definition of free will. John Piper defines free will biblically as this: “The human will is free when it is not in bondage to prefer and choose irrationally. It is free when it is liberated from preferring what is infinitely less preferable than God, and from choosing what will lead to destruction.” What exactly does that mean? Basically, this definition is claiming that before we become believers, we are unable to choose God’s way versus our own sinful nature. Many Scriptures can back this claim up. Romans 8:7 says, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Did you hear that? It cannot submit to God. Humans on their own cannot come to God. That is why we are described as once being slaves to sin (ie. Romans 6). We are stuck in our sinful ways and have no way to combat against is. But there is freedom in Jesus Christ! John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Only when we come to know the truth of the gospel is our will truly free, that we can choose God. So we do have a choice, but we are only able to make that choice when God frees us and allows us to know the truth.

Many objections to the idea of predestination comes in the form of, “Well that’s not fair!” People wonder how God can choose some and not others. Well I for one am grateful that it is not fair because if I got everything I completely deserve, I would be in a lot of trouble. And who are we to question God’s plan anyways? Isaiah 45:9 says, “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?” God knows and understands infinitely more than we can even imagine. We are his creation, and therefore cannot come even close to understanding his methods fully. Who are we to question him or demand an explanation for what he does? Rather, we should be forever grateful for his never ending mercy and grace.

Another common question when dealing with predestination is this: If only God can choose who is to be saved, why bother trying to evangelize? For one, evangelism is simply a command given to us as believers through the Great Commission. God as commanded us to tell others the good news, so we must obey. Second, God may have predetermined the end result, but we just might be part of the means. We could very well be part of God’s plan in order to bring others to him. He decided who would be in the body of Christ, and we help enact that plan through his will.

You may be thinking that none of this makes any sense. Well, frankly it is not supposed to. We can wrestle with this problem as much as we want, but we can never fully wrap our human minds around such a divine concept. But someday, when Christ returns, all these mysteries will be revealed to us!

The Secret Worldview of The Call of the Wild


Being consistent in all of his writings, Jack London seems to have a well defined worldview. Many, if not all, of his pieces focuses heavily on nature. This means that nature is a prominent feature in his worldview. To look at this more closely, I have specifically chosen one of Jack London’s most famous works The Call of the Wild to analyze closely using common worldview questions.

What is prime reality?

In other words, this question is asking what is really and truly real, and how we know it to be real. Since The Call of the Wild focuses so heavily on nature, it seems that Jack London believes that which can be seen to be the true reality. However, he does give evidence in his novel of some outside force. There is a certain power, one may call it, that beckons Buck to come to the wild. Buck recognizes this force and is conflicted. Perhaps London is alluding to a force that binds the universe together.

What is the nature of the world around us — the external reality?

In The Call of the Wild, the world is wild, and in that particular region, untouched. Although it is dangerous, it is pure. London seems to allude to the point that the world has always been there. It is ruled by ancient, unwritten code. Even the dogs obey it, for instance when they eat or fight. This unwritten law brings order to the world.

What does it mean to be human?

In this novel, humans are depicted as cruel and harsh. They try to control the world around and take it for their own. Almost all of Buck’s masters abused him. Some were just cruel and beat him for no reason, while others were stupid and did not understand the wild, causing him and the other dogs much pain and suffering. Only one master was kind to Buck. He lived in solitude and lived off the land, not trying to conquer it. So London believed that the closer man was to the wild, the better off he was. Humans were meant to go back to what they came from and become wild. This is called naturalism, and is also evident in Buck.

What happens to a person at death?

Whenever a death occurred, that person or animal was simply gone. There is no mention of a life after death or any such sort of continuation. They simply disappear. The first death that Buck witnessed was Curly the dog. She simply disappeared in the frenzy of mad dogs, just like a couple of Buck’s masters disappeared under the ice into a frozen river. But life moved on without a skip of a beat. When buck conquered his foe Spitz, the rest of the dogs treated Buck as their new master like nothing had even happened.

How and why is it possible to know anything at all?

Knowledge, in The Call of the Wild, seems to come from instinct and from experiences. Buck learns the ways of the wild quickly because it seems to be written in his DNA. But he also learns the rules by observing. His first lesson came when Curly was killed. Her end came when she was knocked off her feet, so lesson number one: do not get knocked off your feet. So wisdom can only be found through observation, experience, and instinct.

Is there right and wrong and how do we know right from wrong?

The wild does not have much of a moral code. It goes by the law of the survival of the fittest and “every man for himself.” Only the strongest creatures and those who are able to adapt can survive. So “doing the right” thing did not have much place in the wild. At times throughout the novel, it seemed that the outside force of nature would inflict punishment on those who did wrong, like when Buck’s cruel and ignorant masters fell through the partly frozen river. Yet other times nature contradicted itself by allowing John Thornton, Buck’s kind and adored master, to be killed. So really, the universe does not follow any moral code: only survival.

What is the meaning of human history, if any at all?

Not much is said of human history in this novel. The most notable factor of it applies to all creatures: the survival of the fittest. This rule has been evident in all of history, according to Jack London, and is still seen throughout Buck’s adventures. Buck observes this through his experiences and learns that the only way to survive is by adapting.

What personal, life orientating core commitments are consistent with this worldview?

In The Call of the Wild, each person or creature clearly has one goal: survival. Each wants to make it to the top of the food chain. They must become the strongest and most adaptable to be on top. Even better, becoming close to the wild primitive state that all of nature was once in was the way to thrive the most. In the book, those most “civilized” were depicted as the weakest.

In conclusion, The Call of the Wild seems to align closest with Evolution. The idea of the survival of the fittest affirms this. This worldview varies widely with a Christian worldview. While Christianity believes in a strict moral code given by God, the worldview in Jack London’s novel follows no such code of any kind and no higher power. It could be argued that these two worldviews are strictly opposites.



A Study of Romans 8:1-21

Romans 8 is a very common chapter in the Bible, but it really is powerful. The passage starts by explaining how Jesus stepped in to take our place for our punishment, and that we no longer see the consequences of those punishments that we so well deserve. Next it explains the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians and the differences between leading a life with human values and leading a life with godly values. Finally it explains how Christians become children of God. Creation itself is waiting for the day that the children of God will be revealed.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

The passage starts out with a strong statement, saying that those who have accepted Jesus are not sentenced to punishment. We do not need to fear the consequences for our sinful actions.

2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

We are not condemned because the Holy Spirit gives life through the act of Jesus on the cross. Originally, the Fall brought sin and death (as a consequence of sin) into the world, but now the Spirit is giving us life because of Christ’s work on the cross.

3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,

The Old Testament law did not have the ability to save us. It was weak because mankind is unable keep it, so God sent his son Jesus Christ, being fully human and fully God, to take our place. So now our sin is condemned, instead of ourselves.

4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The law needed righteousness in order to be fulfilled. Jesus took our sin, which made us righteous, since we were unable to be righteous of our own accord. Now we no longer live as sinful humans do, because we are filled with the Spirit.

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

This verse is simple. Those who live with human goals have human desires, but those who have the Spirit inside of them have spiritual and godly desires.

6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

And those who do live by human standards are subjected to death. But those who live by godly standards will find life and peace.

7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

Living by human standards also means rejecting God and his commandments. It is impossible to serve both humans and God. Relating this back to verse 6, we can make the conclusion that rejecting God is the equivalent of death.

8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Again it is emphasized that those who live by the flesh are unpleasant to God. It must be an important point since it is emphasized so many times.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

But if we are Christians, then we have the Holy Spirit inside of us. And if we are filled with the Spirit, then we are no longer of the flesh. Those who are not Christians are not filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore are not of God.

10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

But Christians are given eternal life, even though their earthly bodies should die as a result of sin, because Jesus’ work on the cross is counted to them as righteousness.This can be related back to Genesis 15:6, when Abraham had faith in the Lord and it was “credited to him as righteousness.” The same goes for Christians today. Our faith is credited to us as righteousness, in order for us to fulfill the requirements of the law.

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

This verse says that the Spirit gives life to our mortal bodies. Here the word “mortal” comes from the Greek word thnetos, which can be translated as “subjected to death.” We learned earlier that our bodies are indeed subjected to death, but the Spirit will, used in future tense, bring them back to life, just like he brought Jesus back to life. This is done because of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.

In light of all of this, we are called, but not called to anything that holds earthly value.

13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Again it is emphasized that the way of the flesh is death, but by killing those desires, which is only accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit, life is given to us.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Not only do those who have the Holy Spirit belong to God, but they actually become children of God.

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Since Christians belong to God, he could have easily made us his slaves. But he did not. He did not want us to be afraid again (saying again because our past life of sin creates fear), but instead he adopted us as his own. Now we call him our own Father. The word “Abba” means father, but it is an intimate, childlike way of saying it. This shows how truly personal God is.

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Now this is interesting. Since the Spirit is inside of us, he can communicate with us. He testifies that we are in fact children of God.

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Even more than being his children, we become heirs of God, someday to inherit his kingdom. We even become co-heirs with Christ. But this does mean that we must suffer like he did to also receive glory like he did.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Even though we suffer now, it is incomparable to the glory that will come at a later date. Basically saying, it is so well worth it.

19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

I thought this verse was especially interesting. All of God’s creation is waiting, and waiting eagerly, to see who the children of God are.

20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Not only does creation wait, but it is frustrated for having to wait so long. But it does not want to be frustrated. So who caused it to be frustrated? Clearly God is the one who is in control of everything, so he must have subjected creation to frustration. But why? Verse 21 says that it was done in the hope that it will be no longer decay, but will be glorified with the children of God.

Overall, this passage is very important to Christian theology. It pretty much sums up the way that we are saved through Jesus Christ. It also explains a few of the roles of the Holy Spirit, and our role as part of God’s creation. This passage could be studied over and over again, and new ideas could still be gleaned from it.


A Systematic Study of Adoption

Adoption is an important issue in today’s society. Many claim that it is a healing option to building a family. However, people in favor of abortion say that it is not an option worth thinking about. They claim that putting a child up for adoption is risky for the child’s well being and therefore not worth it in the long run. They claim that it would be better for the child to never have been born. Even those who are against abortion have trouble with adoption. They feel that if they were to have a child, it should be their own, from their own blood. Let’s see what the Bible says about this issue. First we need to establish some keywords that fall under the topic of adoption and see what the Bible says about them.


In the Bible, children are almost always spoken about in a positive way. From passages in scripture, God clearly adores children. God gives children as a blessing; they are “a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). The famous bible verse Mark 10:14 proves this. When the disciples were trying to keep children from bothering Jesus, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” That’s huge! Jesus loves children so much that he says the kingdom of God belongs to them. His love for children is much deeper than surface level. The Bible takes this relationship between children and God by forming the analogy that we are like children. Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” Scripture clearly states that we as Christians are children of God. This passage even relates back to Mark 10:14 by saying that we, the children, are to inherit the kingdom of God.


In this analogy in which we are the children, God is the perfect father, the “Everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6). He is depicted as a father who loves his children deeply. Galatians 4:6 says, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” So when we become Christians, we also become God’s children, and the Holy Spirit within us cries out to our Heavenly Father. God is the ultimate father and is the model for all earthly fathers.


Of course for adoption to happen, there must first be orphans, or those who are fatherless. Although they may be forgotten by their parents or by society, they are not forgotten by God. He is “a father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5) and “the helper of the fatherless” (Psalm 10:14). Many other scriptures describe God as caring for the fatherless including Psalm 146:9, Deuteronomy 10:18, and Jeremiah 49:11. The Bible makes sure that we know that God remembers the fatherless and takes them as his own children.


One thing that concerns those who consider putting a child up for adoption as an invalid choice is abandonment. They feel that this feeling will never go away even when the child grows up; they feel that causing them to go through that is cruel. Although the world may abandon its children and leave them as forgotten, God will not. The Bible makes this clear. Psalm 16:10 says, “You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” God will not abandon those who are faithful to him. This idea is so important that the exact same verse is stated again in Acts 2:27. Again it is stated in 1 Samuel 12:22: “For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own.” God already made us his children, so he will not abandon us.


Of course love is required for adoption to happen. 1 John 4:16 says, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (More verses about God’s love, among many others, can be found in Romans 5:8 and 1 John 4:7) Ultimately, God is love. Love is defined by and portrayed in him. It is because of God’s love that we are called to love, and our love is the evidence that we are living in God. One of the many ways we can share God’s love is through adoption.


Finally, the word adoption itself appears in the Bible. It never describes the earthly adoption of children into families but rather the spiritual adoption into the family of God. In this whole analogy the Bible has created, it finally comes to a resounding conclusion. Though we were once lost and spiritually fatherless, God, the Everlasting Father, has adopted us into his family. Ephesians 1:15 says that God “predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ.” (See also Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:5). When we become Christians, we become sons and daughters of God. Even though we were at one point in time not his own, he makes us his own.

So, adoption is actually a picture of our story with God. It mirrors the exact thing that happens when God calls us to be his children and takes us as his own. Therefore the act of adoption is completely biblical.

This type of systematic study is a great way for Christians to align their lives with the God’s Word. It allows them to see exactly what the Bible says about a certain issue, even if it was not necessarily an issue in Bible times. It opens up all of scripture, instead of merely picking and choosing verses that seem to fit their stance on the issue. It truly is a great way for Christians to organize their thoughts in accordance with the scriptures.


Philosophy, Science, and Religion

Philosophy, science, and religion are often seen in conflict with one another. Many debates break out between scientists and theologians, theologians and philosophers. Is it possible for all of them, or even two of them to work together? First we must fully understand what they are and why they are often conflicting. Ultimately they are all methods in the search for truth. Philosophy uses logic and reason to access truth. Science uses mathematics and facts found through observation and experimentation. Religion relies mostly on faith and trust in a God or gods. How can these three methods possibly fit together?

I noticed something when researching these three ideas. When comparing science with philosophy, the title of the articles were always something like “Philosophy and Science.” But when comparing science with religion, the titles often showed them conflicting one another, something like “Science vs. Religion.” We always portray science and religion as being in conflict with one another. Why do we do this? I would argue that they actually work smoothly together. People often try to use science to prove the existence of God or even to prove the truth of the Bible. When we do this, we are considering science to be above God or above the truth of the Bible. We are claiming that science has more value than God when in fact God created science. At the same time, when we focus solely on religion, we miss out on the part of God’s creation that he wants us to discover. He created science as a tool for us to study his creation more closely. Through it we can see the intricacy in his designs and can know him and his plan better. Job 12:7-10 says, “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” We learn more about God through his creation. When we discover the intricacies of his designs, we discover a little more of the intricacies of God’s character. Here we see science and religion working together. Religion is above science, but science is necessary to reveal the wonders of God and his creation.

Most people can see more easily how philosophy and science fit together. The two would not be as useful without the other. Although observation and and experimentation are useful, they would be unimportant without logic and reason. Logic and reason are the methods we use to affirm scientific facts. If something clearly does not make logical sense, an error must have occurred in the scientific sense. On the other hand, solely using philosophical thought through the rational mind would simply be imaginative and illogical. Science can be used to affirm our deepest and most thoughtful ideas. For a specific example, both science and philosophy are necessary to even begin to understand the human mind. Science provides facts on how the brain works and how it functions with the rest of the body. Philosophy explores the limits of the mind and reaches far into its depths on a search for truth. Both are necessary to explore the facts of life.

Philosophy and religion seem similar, but they are actually quite different. While religion relies mainly on faith and trust, philosophy is based on logic and the rational mind. However, they are still in need of each other. Philosophy needs faith to put into action the ideas reached by the rational mind. On the other hand, religion needs a philosophical mind to keep it in check. A faith without logic and reason is dangerous. Philosophy gives additional understanding to the revelations that religion provides. Even more, we become naive when we try to separate logic from religion. Blindly trusting in something without any logical explanation can destroy our worldview. People with opposing views would be able to pick it apart in an instant. Applying logic to our faith can also help us understand the intricacies of God’s plan and cause us to praise home more for it. We become ever more grateful when we see that God’s ultimate plan for the universe makes sense.

So philosophy, science, and religion can all work together. They are all vitally important in forming our worldview.


Justice and Benevolence

The Bible talks a lot about justice. Justice can be most accurately defined as the way things are supposed to be. If something is wrong, that is injustice. Implementing justice means establishing what is right. Therefore justice is good. Justice is restoring things to the way God had created them to b in the first place.

God is completely and totally just. He has to be. Since justice is good and God is good, God has to be just. God is so good that he cannot even be around sin. Sin requires a punishment. Sin requires judgement. Sin is an injustice that must be brought to right. God cannot let sin go unpunished. Most of us can probably recite Romans 6:23 from memory. Yeah, yeah, sin’s punishment is death. Whatever. And God gave us the gift of eternal life through his Son. We know this is true, but when was the last time we took the time to fully understand it? God is perfectly just and cannot let things go unpunished. So then why does he not punish us when we are so deserving but rather gives us eternal life? The answer is benevolence. The dictionary defines benevolence as “the desire to do good to others.” God is perfectly just but also perfectly benevolent. At times when justice requires punishment to make things right, it can seem contradictory to benevolence. But God is completely both. He had to punish sin, but since he wanted the absolute best for us, he sent Jesus to take the punishment for us. This is where the gift of God spoken about in Romans 6:23 comes in. We have a choice if we want to accept it or not. Those who accept it escape God’s judgement through the substitution of Jesus Christ. But for those who do not accept it, God will still punish them. Thought he wants the best for us, he has to punish those who sin and refuse to accept him. Their judgement will come later. God’s mercy and benevolence is seen even more in the fact that he holds off his judgement and gives those who reject his gift every last chance to take it. The Bible makes it clear that their punishment will eventually come. 

Since God is perfectly just, he also wants us to establish justice. Amos 5:21-24 says, “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” As Christians, we often get caught up in the religious “duties” and the ritualistic part of worship. Often times we ignore justice. We ignore the way things are supposed to be and try to please God using meaningless, flashy shows of faith. God does not desire this. He would rather have us actively enacting justice than performing showy acts of worship to God with an empty heart. Worship is only acceptable to God when justice is a part of it. More than that, this verse shows that justice is an act of worship. We are giving glory to God when we do our best to set things right.

One translation for justice in the Hebrew language is “shalom.” It can be translated as both “justice” and “peace.” Loosely, it means wholeness and restoration. By this definition, justice is also about restoring relationships to what they were intended to be. We were created to have a relationship with God. Since the beginning, human beings were supposed to be on a personal basis with God. Adam and Eve actually dwelled with God in the Garden of Eden. But when they ate the forbidden fruit, that relationship was forever damaged for all human beings. The same is true for us. When our sinful nature gets in the way of our relationship with God, it is damaged. According to the definition of “shalom,” justice is the restoration of relationships, including our intended relationship with God. So when our relationship with God is broken, this is injustice.

Overall, God is perfectly just and benevolent. He calls us to be the same in our everyday lives, our worship to God, and our relationship with him.