Friday, July 22, 2011

Is God “Unfair”?

As we have been studying, the Gospel of grace is that Jesus, Son of God, came to earth as the perfect sacrifice, to die to pay for all our sins, and to rise again that all who turn away from their sins and believe and trust Him as Savior will have eternal, abundant life with Him in Heaven. God, the Creator and Ruler of the universe, owes us nothing, yet He has so graciously extended this offer to “whosoever” will accept it (John 3:16; Romans 10: 9-13).

Despite this awesome, all-inclusive offer, sometimes unbelievers and even Christians struggle with their perception that God is unfair. Reasons they state for His “unfairness” include:

--He is intolerant and exclusive, because “good” people and people with sincere faith in other paths to salvation will not be allowed into Heaven. Yet the Bible clearly teaches that belief in Christ is the only way to Heaven (John 3:18; 14:6; Acts 4:12;) and that no one is good or righteous (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10-23). Only His grace can save us, and no amount of good works we do could counterbalance the fact that we are all sinners, deserving eternal separation from God and eternal punishment in hell (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 2:8-9). Belief, no matter how sincere, in a path to salvation that is untrue will not make it true, and genuine faith that is misplaced cannot save anyone.

--Or, people may believe that God is unfair because those who have reached the age of accountability but who have never heard the Gospel will not go to Heaven. Yet the Bible clearly tells us that it is our responsibility to spread the Gospel ourselves (Matt. 28:18-20) and to send preachers to places where we can’t go (Romans 10:14-17).

If people who had never heard the Gospel would go to Heaven by default, then we as believers would lose our awesome privilege and duty to share the Gospel with others. What incentive would we have to tell others the Good News, if they would go to Heaven anyway provided they had never heard of Jesus? Actually, we would just sit at home and be afraid to ever even mention Jesus’ name, because if we presented the Gospel only to have those we told reject it, we would feel responsible for their going to hell.

--Or, people may wonder why those who are saved on their death bed get to enjoy the blessings of eternal life in Heaven with Christ just as do those who were saved at an early age and led full, productive lives committed to and obedient to Christ. But Jesus told the parable of those who were hired to work in the vineyard all receiving the same wage they were promised, regardless of whether they began work at daybreak or sundown (Matt. 20:1-16).

Jesus also promised that all believers would face Him at the judgment seat, so that those who had earned crowns for what they had done in this life to further His kingdom would be able to lay down those crowns at His feet and be rewarded with responsibilities in the Millennial Kingdom in proportion to the good works they had done for Him with the right motives (1 Cor 3:11-15). In the parable of the talents, Jesus also explained that those who are faithful to use their gifts to further His kingdom will be rewarded proportionately (Matt. 25:14-30).

--Yet another objection people bring up about God’s alleged “unfairness” is that those who have been “working toward” trusting Christ, by attending church, struggling intellectually with belief in how to be saved, and obtaining a “head knowledge” of the Gospel will still go to hell unless they are born again, repenting of their sins and trusting Christ, and Christ alone, as their Savior (2 Tim 3:1-9).

Well, just as you can’t be a liitle bit pregnant, you can’t be a little bit saved – it’s an all or nothing experience. Until the sinner realizes that he is a sinner who can do nothing to help himself (John 15:5), and that it is only God’s grace through faith in His Son’s finished work on the cross that can save him (Ephesians 2:8-9), he is bound for hell. Trusting his good works or his good intentions or his spiritual seeking to get him to Heaven simply won’t work. There may be levels of punishment in hell, and those who never heard the Gospel will still be separated from God, but those who sat in a church pew week after week and heard the Gospel, yet rejected it and trampled it underfoot, may face not only separation from God, but punishments so severe that we can’t begin to imagine them.

Yes, God is “unfair,” but only in the sense that He has rewarded those who don’t deserve one iota of His blessing with His infinite mercy, love, and grace. He is the Creator and Ruler of the universe Who owes us nothing. We are wretched sinners, unable to take our next breath unless He so wills it, and unable to resist sin and to do anything good unless we are empowered to do so by His indwelling Holy Spirit.

Before we were saved, we were enemies of God and rebels against God, yet God forgave each of us who has repented and trusted Christ. He has let us out of the prison of sin, death and hell. Not only that, He has adopted us as His children and granted us His inheritance. Beyond that, He has made us His ambassadors to spread the Gospel, so that He can reward us not only with eternal life in His presence but with blessings beyond human imagination. Praise God that He is so “unfair!”

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett

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