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Friday, May 17, 2013

Does God Have To Be Right All The Time

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Does God Have To Be Right All The Time? - By Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D.


While much of the debate about God centres on his existence, in this article I am considering how God appears to need to set his record straight and be in the right. At first glance this sounds rather abstract, or even a little odd; who cares, what difference does it make? I believe it makes a whole lot of difference and we are more personally involved than we may think! This is why:
1. MUST GOD BE RIGHT?
First, biblical Christianity claims to be God's final revelation. All exists for the glory of God. God has made ample self-disclosure. God never has to try to prove his existence, as if it was ever in sufficient doubt - why, after all, should the uncreated Fount of all Being need to supply evidences that finite minds might or might not construe as proof, as if they were the final arbiters, or had some right to expect proof?
So, what about God's moral standards; must he always be right; is he not occasionally free to engage in just a little double dealing - beneath the counter, so to speak? The biblical answer is 'No, never'. Hey, isn't that a bit narrow, is God that scrupulous?
He may not be scrupulous as we think of it, but for the moral Governor of the universe to admit to doubtful conduct and even a little moral relativism is not what he has revealed; 'For I the Lord do not change' (Malachi 3:6), and 'it is impossible for God to lie' (Hebrews 6:18). He is flawless, unsullied, faithfully dependable, in whom 'there is no variation or shadow due to change' (James 1:17). God is eternally perfect, and 'will judge the world in righteousness' (Acts 17:31).
There will be no double standards. Thatour sinful rebellion might even appear to enhance God's own exalted perfection by comparison with it can never be used to complain that his judgement takes unfair advantage of us, because as the Apostle Paul, who anticipates this objection, asks 'For then how could God judge the world?' (Romans 3:6).
In spite of the historic Genesis fall and our being spoiled by sin, we all have a sense of objective morality and we expect God to be good in a way that our conscience approves of what ultimate goodness ought to be. So, must God be right all the time? Yes, absolutely.
2. A DOUBT IS CAST
So, why might there appear to be a doubt cast on God's flawless reputation? No, it's not the tsunamis, earthquakes, famines, diseases, sick children and wars and all the other terrible events that follow from the Genesis fall. Actually, they don't mar God's reputation but reinforce the awfulness of sin! The glaring instance of where a doubt might be cast is where God apparently overlooked or passed by sin in the Old Testament period.
It is here that his justice might be called into question. This is very revealing, God expects us to approve of all his actions. He never has to justify his acts of judgement, but that he might not be judging, when it was due and even forgiving sin - this seems outrageous and needs careful explanation! God had revealed himself as the one whose pure holiness is provoked by sin, and that 'The soul who sins shall die' (Ezekiel 18:20), but in spite of this, God had forgiven many sins under the old sacrificial system, without, it seems having a just basis for offering that forgiveness. After all, the innocent victim sacrifices did not really suffer the just penalty for sin on the behalf of the offerer, they rather pointed forward to the day when one sufficient sacrifice would be made. But in the meantime, there was this problem.
If all of God's graciously granted forgiveness in the Old Testament era seemed to lack a just basis that raises a big question. In spite of many just judgements, how come so many people were let off, when they did not deserve to be? Did some of their good deeds cancel their bad ones? Not at all. How could God satisfy his holy justice by saying that the sinner must die, and at the same time forgiving and letting people go free, when justice allowed no such thing? This is not a small problem!
One popular idea is that it's God's 'job' to forgive people their sins, just something he routinely gets on with, in a matter of fact kind of way. But let's debunk that idea; God's forgiveness is not routine - it is an astonishing wonder that he would ever contemplate it, but how does he do it in a way that reveals both his gracious mercy and his perfect justice? This seems to set up an irreconcilable conflict, and raises the question of whether such a daring mission is possible even to God himself.
3. THE RECORD IS SET RIGHT!
There is one amazing way. God has done it in the death of Jesus Christ, his Son. Jesus' death sets the record straight! Here it is expressed in this magnificent statement: 'For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus' (Romans 3:22-26).
That is a power-packed statement. Let's unpack it in a few sentences. God is morally perfect and must uphold his moral law in a way that does not leave him open to question - by we, who seem to be both participants and observers. Sin cannot be overlooked; the sinner deserves justice and must receive justice. But God had already overlooked or disregarded the just judgement of sin when he freely forgave many sins in the Old Testament period. But how can any sinner ever be forgiven - truly and justly, if his forgiveness calls God's justice into question? This is the question of the ages.
This is how: in the fullness of time, the Son of God, the sinless God-Man Jesus Christ, willingly took the sinner's place as their legally acceptable substitute. By this most public declaration God presents to all mankind that he has set the record straight and Christ himself has willingly been judged with the just condemnation that sinners deserved!
4. FORGIVENESS IS FREE AND JUST
Let no one be in any doubt about this. God will freely forgive the vilest, dirtiest sins and the most cultured, despicable sins of religious self-righteousness, because he may now do so justly, seeing that Christ has become the sinner's substitute. He has been presented in full public display, 'as a propitiation' - that is, enduring God's just and holy wrath against sin, in his death on the cross. Now, his perfect action for others is to be received by them in faith, taken on trust that it is final and wholly acceptable to God, on their behalf.
By this public spectacle, God now declares to the world, that he is just, and has been seen to deal with sin to the uttermost, and that on that basis and that alone, he will freely and faithfully forgive sins seeing that the inflexible demands of his justice have been satisfied. Now it is clear that all of the sins that were forgiven before Jesus' death were forgiven prospectively - with a view looking forward to Jesus' death, which sets the record straight!
Do you see how God honours us in this, as his fallen image-bearers, who still retain a sense of God's justice, and what might be fair, or not fair, and how the gospel is addressed to our reason, and why it is such extraordinary good news? God expects us to think about this issue, as the most important one that will ever occupy our minds in this fallen world.
5. AN ASTONISHING SOLUTION
What an astonishing wonder, that God would condescend, in mercy, to come right into the centre of our sinful rebellion, and in the Person of his Son, carry in full its penalty on behalf of countless rebels! And as if that wasn't enough, for all who accept this work by faith, God views them as 'in Christ' (Rom. 8:1), in perfect legal and spiritual union with their Representative and Substitute, whose perfect moral righteousness is now reckoned also to be theirs. In this position, God himself justifies them and declares them to be righteous. In salvation and justification, the moral foundation of God's government is upheld, and he redeems a people for himself who are delivered from condemnation and welcomed into the family of God as joint heirs with Christ himself.
Yes, this setting the record straight is at the heart of the good news of salvation - will you believe in the God who declares that when he did appear to overlook the sin question, he has since shown himself to be in the right in the death and resurrection of his own Son? God has set his record straight. Are you now prepared to trust that this was done for you, so that your personal record - 'guilty and condemned' before God might be wiped clean? - 'so that God might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus' (Rom 3:26).

Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D. has authored several books and many articles that offer answers for many of life's big questions - 'Is biblical Christianity finished, or does it still speak to the 21st century?' Take a look at my ebook or paperback, 'DAWKINS' DILEMMAS' to see how Richard Dawkins' atheistic belief cannot support itself, either as philosphy or science. A book that also upholds historic biblical Christianity and its powerful relevance for today. Use the following link: http://www.amazon.com/Dawkins-Dilemmas-Deluded-question-ebook/dp/B007RFLYI8/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_2 My title, 'Darwin's Puzzle - Unravelling the Riddle of Reason' discusses how the evolutionary beliefs of Charles Darwin destroy human reason. He admits this when he says he inherited his thinking from monkeys. And try this link:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007ZE34GG Use my books and articles to help you find faith in Christ, or to strengthen your faith.Also find titles on other websites - Thank you! Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_J._S._Austin,_Ph.D. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7347235

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