The Justice of God – Chip Ingram

The Justice of God – Chip Ingram

ANNOUNCER: Coming up next
on Living on the Edge.
CHIP INGRAM: His justice isn’t
executed immediately, and sometimes,
which is very frustrating, it’s not executed
until eternity. Now, open your notes,
if you will, because here’s what
we have to do. We have to ask ourselves,
“How in the world do you trust a God
who claims to be just, who claims to be righteous, when, in fact,
these moments of injustice bother us deeply?” ♪ ♪ CHIP: Hi, I’m Chip Ingram
with Living on the Edge, and I have to tell you I think
one of the most perplexing problems in life
is injustice. I mean, let’s face it,
life is not fair, and it raises two very
problematic questions about the very character of God. And that’s what we’re going
to talk about today on Living on the Edge. CHIP: Why do bad things happen
to good people if God is fair, if life is fair, if God is just? Now, I have to tell you,
the corollary actually bothers me more. Why do good things
happen to bad people? Maybe it’s my warped
personality, but that really
bugs me even more. I mean, the Bernie Madoff’s
that live in a lap of luxury, millions and millions
and millions of dollars, and do a Ponzi scheme,
and then people have nothing. I remember years earlier
watching a videotape, remember the old Enron years? There was a 77-year-old
woman and she’s there, “All my life savings
was in Enron.” The CEO leaves,
has a little parachute, who knows what,
$10, $12 million. She’s got nothing to live
on the rest of her life. Why is it that some
of the people that you know and I know,
they backstab, right? They lie, they manipulate,
they’re not people of integrity, they cheat on their mate,
and they just kind of climb the corporate ladder. I mean, in the dictionary
where it says “jerk,” this is where these people are,
and you just look at them, man, their life
looks great. Why? The real issue
is life’s not fair, but there’s a deeper issue. The deeper issue
is who made life? Right? Life’s not fair.
We all know that. Bad things do happen
to good people, and good things do happen,
on occasion, to bad people. But if life’s not fair
and God made life, here’s the question:
Is God fair? Is God just?
It’s an age-old question. Every philosophy, every religion
has tried to tackle it, but I believe with all my heart
that the message of our faith, the message of
a biblical worldview is the clearest and best
and most honest answer about how to deal
with injustice in the world. On the bottom of your notes,
I put a little diagram, if you will, and on
the bottom, you’ll notice I have from creation
on in through to infinity. And then, in the left-hand
corner, as it moves, it’s life with God
in a perfect world. What we know is: God created
a perfect world, sin was not a part
of the ideal plan, but there was a rebellion,
there was a coup. In a perfect world,
there was no injustice. There was kindness,
there was no selfishness, there was no sin,
there was no suffering, there were no tears. But from Genesis chapter 3, all the way to Genesis
chapter 20, is a parenthesis. And it’s a parenthesis that
tells the story of redemption. What’s life look like
in a “fallen” world? That’s the word
theologians use. Sin is like cancer
entered the planet. It’s like something that
every person now is born with that you don’t have
to teach them to be selfish, you don’t have
to teach them to lie, you don’t have
to teach them to steal. It just comes naturally to us. And so, you’ll notice
in Genesis 3, you have the first judgment,
when our first parents sinned and were banished
from the garden, and then protection was given
so they couldn’t go back in and tasted the tree of life and this fallen
state be permanent. And then, the story of Israel,
the coming of the Messiah, the growth of the church,
and the return of Christ at the end of all time is
another judgment, chapter 20. It’s called
“The Great White Throne.” It’s for believers
and unbelievers. And it’s where God, as you read
the Book of Revelation, He came as a Savior,
He returns as a judge. And He’ll make everything right,
He’ll balance the scales, everything will be fair. Now, here’s the deal: He doesn’t
execute His justice always in a timely way,
from our perspective, and He doesn’t execute all
of His justice in this life. Sometimes it happens later. Then, notice in
Revelation chapter 21, you have a new heaven,
a new earth, life with God
in a perfect world. So, what I want you
to know is that God is just and God is righteous,
but in a fallen world, it can be very, very difficult
because His justice isn’t executed
immediately and sometimes, which is very frustrating, it’s
not executed until eternity. Now, open your notes,
if you will, because here’s
what we have to do. We have to ask ourselves,
“How in the world do you trust a God
who claims to be just, who claims to be righteous,
when, in fact, these moments of injustice
bother us deeply and leave big question marks? So, here’s where
we’re going to go. Number one, I’m going to show
you where and how God has revealed his justice. I want to define
very clearly what justice is, so we’re on the same page. And then we’re going to pause,
and the big assignment will be how do we respond? How does God want you, today,
to respond to the truth that He’s a just
and righteous God? That He is actually fair? Not what does
that mean out there, but what does it mean to you?
What’s it mean to me? Psalm 97:2 says, “Clouds and
thick darkness surround Him,” — speaking of God —
“righteousness and justice are the foundation
of His throne.” What’s right, what’s just,
what’s fair? The throne of God,
it’s the foundation. I could have given you
Job 8:3, Job 40:6, Psalm 11:7, Psalm 45:6, Isaiah 51:6,
Isaiah 30:18, or Zephaniah 3:5,
or a bunch of other passages, and if you can remember
all those, you’re amazing. But you know what they all say?
He’s just. Old Testament,
New Testament: God is fair, God is righteous,
and God is just. Tozer puts it this way,
“Justice embodies the idea of moral equality. Judgment is the application
of equality to moral situations and may be favorable
or unfavorable according to whether the one under
examination has been equitable or inequitable
in heart and conduct.” I love the way he says things. At times, it’s
a little hard to understand, but what he basically
says is that what a judge does is he looks at things
and he has to be fair, and it has to be equal. And so you’re evaluated,
and if your moral conduct is good, there’s blessing. And if your moral conduct
is bad, there are consequences. Even the word
“equality,” inequity. You know what
the word we get is? Inequity. If you look up inequity
in Webster’s Dictionary, it says, definition: “gross
immorality, extreme injustice.” He’s revealed His justice first
through the natural order. Romans 1:18-20, it says,
“God’s invisible attributes, His eternal qualities,
what He’s actually like is displayed in creation.”
And we’ve all seen this. In fact, people all around
the world have. If you observe creation, there’s
a cause and there’s effect. In general, not always,
but in general, when people do good things,
good things happen to them. In general, when people do
bad things, bad things happen. In pop culture, right,
if someone is dissing someone or hurting someone — Has
someone ever said this to you? “Hey, whatever goes around,
comes around, right?” Or Eastern religion, as they
have looked at the world, the whole concept
of karma is what? If you do bad over here, bad
will come back and reward you. In other words, if there’s
something about just life, there’s an external witness that
even a casual observer realizes, there’s not only a judgment,
but there’s justice. Things ought to be right. But second, there’s not
just an external witness, there’s an internal witness. There’s something inside
your heart and my heart that, you don’t even have to teach
people from any culture when things are unjust,
it bothers us. Earlier in this service,
I had two volunteers come up, a man and a woman. And I asked them
a simple question, “What’s your favorite verse?” He told me his favorite verse,
I gave him $20. I said, “What’s your
favorite verse?” She gave me her favorite verse,
I gave her a dollar. And then I said,
“Thank you very much.” And they went and sat down.
You should have seen your faces. You were mad at me. I mean, your faces were,
“What’s he doing?” Why? “That’s not –” Right. Now, candidly,
it’s my money, isn’t it? But it wasn’t fair. My wife, last night —
we taught this last night — she goes, “I just have
to tell you, honey, that really bothered me.”
I said, “I know. I wanted it to.” I wanted all of us
in real-time experience to realize whenever
we see injustice, God has so made us
that there’s something inside that bothers us. Paul is making the point
that all of us fall short of God’s
perfect standard, His absolute perfection
and righteousness. White, hot, holy,
unapproachable light, purity and holiness.
No one’s perfect. Lewis writes
in “Mere Christianity,” ‘These then are the two points
I want to make. First, that human beings
all over the earth have this curious idea
that they ought to behave in a certain way, and they really
can’t get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not,
in fact, behave in that way. They know the law of nature
and they break it.’ He goes on to say, “These
two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking
about ourselves and the universe
that we live in. This sense of ought,
this sense of justice that also tells us
there is a day of reckoning.” There has to be a time,
there has to be a way where things are fair.
God has made you in His image. And so it bothers you,
it bothers you when I give $20 to someone
and a dollar to someone else. Can you imagine how it bothers
God when your thoughts and your behavior
and your actions and how you and I
treat people falls short of the standard in His desire? When it treats people
in unfair ways, when it damages people,
when it hurts children, when it pollutes
the environment?ANNOUNCER: You’re watching
Living on the Edge
with Chip Ingram.Chip will be back
with the rest of his message
in just a minute.If you’re new to us,
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Now, here’s Chip with
the rest of today’s talk.
CHIP: The third way that
the Bible is very clear, there’s an external witness,
an internal witness, and just the Bible
is crystal clear about who is the judge. Hebrews 12:23 talks about
“the church of the firstborn, the names that
are written in heaven,” it says, “You have come –”
— notice this phrase — “the God, the Judge
of all mankind.” In 2 Timothy, chapter four,
the apostle Paul is near the end of his life,
and he writes to Timothy, “Now there is in store for me
the crown of righteousness, which the Lord” —
who is the Lord? — “the righteous Judge,
will award me on that day — and not only me but to all
those that love His appearing.” And then, finally, Jesus,
out of His own lips, makes this comment
about Himself, “Moreover,” — in John, chapter five,
“the Father judges no one, but has entrusted
all judgment to the Son.” Here’s all I want you to get:
The creation screams about God’s justice, your
conscience and inner heart tells you there’s a right
and there’s a wrong justice. The Bible says that “God
is the judge of all men.” The apostle Paul says He has a
special judgment for believers, where there’ll be rewards
that we’ll touch on later. And then, the Scripture
just makes it really clear, “God is the Judge.” The fourth evidence of God’s
justice is the cross, and I think it’s
the greatest. It’s the greatest
and it’s the most amazing. And it’s the most amazing
because God actually holds Himself accountable. I mean, I would think
if you were God, and people had missed the mark
and they don’t measure up, couldn’t you just sort
of wink and say, “Hey, it’s okay, Ollie Ollie
in free,” right? I won’t hold that against you. But He is a God
who is perfect in His holiness. And, therefore, being
perfect in His holiness, to have a relationship
with an absolutely holy God, your test score in every area
of your life needs to be a 100. And so those with a 99.9,
a 94, an 87, a 32, fail. It’s pass-fail in terms
of can I have a relationship with a holy God? And so, the fact
of the matter is, whether your hero is Billy
Graham or Mother Teresa or someone else, even if
they’re in the 90 percentiles in terms of more holy than
the rest of us, they fall short. And so the cross
is God’s means — listen very carefully — to remain just
and be the Justifier by allowing Christ to do for
you and for me and for everyone in all the world who’s ever
lived to absorb or cover — literally, it’s
to atone for your sin. I put a picture in your notes
and one simple verse. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ
also dies for sin…” Will you circle
the word “for”? It means “for you
and in your place.” In other words,
he was your substitute. Christ died for
your sins and mine. Notice, “once for all,”
the just for the unjust. He’s the Just, we’re
the unjust or the righteous and the unrighteous. And then, notice the purpose
clause, “so that” — put a little parenthesis around
the purpose clause — “so that” — Why did Christ die —
He’s the just. — for us the unjust,
so that — notice this —
“He might bring us to God.” It’s amazing.
Well, how did He do it? Being put to death in the flesh,
He died upon the cross, being made alive
in the Spirit. Now, get a pencil
or a pen out and where, in the little diagram,
it says “man,” I want you to write
the word “unjust,” or if you like
the word, “unrighteous.” And then, go over
to where it says “Jesus,” and right above Jesus, I want
you to write the word “just.” He’s Just, He’s righteous, He’s perfect.
Have you got it? And then, under where
it says “God,” I want you to write “justifier,”
justifier. God has, in fact, held Himself
to His own standard at the cost of God, the Son,
dying in your place. You’ll notice at the bottom
where it says “sin,” notice that the cross
covers the sin. You know what this is?
This is the Gospel. This is the Good News. This isn’t “try hard,
go to church a lot, give to United Way,
be a little bit more moral than other people.”
This is a transformation. This is that “All have
sinned and fall short of the perfect standard
of God’s glory.” We all fall short. And that “The wages
of sin is death, but the free gift of God
is eternal life through Jesus Christ,
our Lord.” And He says that
“When a person, by faith, comes to God and says,
‘I fall short.'” Confession, recognition,
you’re Just, I’m unholy. You will give me what I deserve,
you will judge my sin. And so, instead,
I’m going to come and I’m going to hide
under the cross — the word “atone”
means to cover — and I’m going to accept
the free gift of Christ to cover my sin once
and for all so, in the empty hands of faith,
I confess my sin, and I turn and I place
my faith or entrust my future and my life to Him,
and when I do, the Scripture says “I’m taken
out of the kingdom of darkness, I’m placed in
the kingdom of Light, and the Spirit of God
enters my mortal body, and I begin a new
relationship with Him.” That’s what it means
to be a Christian. That’s the Good News. That’s this amazing picture
of God’s justice. What the holiness
of God demanded, the love of God provided. The last way that God has
demonstrated His justice is through the promise
of eternal retribution. In other words, God is going to
give people what they deserve. He’s going to give believers
what they deserve, and He’s going to give
unbelievers what they deserve. Now, I want you to open your
Bible or open the Bible in front of you or get
your phone or your iPad. This is not one that’s
going to go on screens. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15,
very important passage, there’s not much
teaching on this. The context of
1 Corinthians chapter 3 is that there’s
division in the church. And the apostle Paul is teaching
about spiritual maturity, and he’s talking about
there’s only one foundation that is Jesus. And he’s wanting these people
who have come to know Christ, but still living in immorality, still treating
each other terribly, they’re suing one another
in the public courts, and what he’s wanting them
to know is, as a believer, not for your sin,
but as a believer, you will come
before what’s called the “Judgment Seat of Christ,”
the “Bema Seat.” And as a believer,
you’re in Christ, His spirit lives within you,
you will give an account for how did you live
your Christian life after you became
a follower of Jesus? Follow along,
chapter three, verse ten. “According to
the grace given to me, like a skilled
master builder,” — he’s a disciple-maker — “I’ve laid a foundation, and
someone else is building on it. Let each man take care
how he builds upon it.” That’s a word to you and me. How are you building
upon the foundation of your relationship
with Christ? “For no one can lay
a foundation other than that which was laid,
which is Jesus Christ.” And now, he gives a picture
of your life and your lifestyle and your priorities and
your faith or lack of it. “Now, if anyone builds on
the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones,
wood, hay, or stubble, it will be disclosed because
it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test
the sort or the quality of each man’s work. If the work that
someone has built upon the foundation survives,
he’ll receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up,
he will suffer loss, though he, himself, —
notice carefully — “will be saved.”
You don’t lose your salvation. It doesn’t mean you get
kicked out of heaven, but you’ll suffer loss,
“but only as through fire.” Now, if you would take a very,
very hot fire and you put gold or silver or precious stones
into a very hot fire, what’s it do?
Purifies it, right? If you put wood, hay, or straw
in a fire, what’s it do? It burns up. Here’s what he’s saying,
“We are believers in Christ. I’ve been transferred from
the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Light.
The Spirit of God lives in me.” From the moment
I trusted Christ, in my case, 1972,
until the moment I die, God is going to evaluate
and He’s going to say, remember all those
parables, one talent, five talents, ten talents,
and He’s going to say, “Chip, I gave you
X amount of time, I gave you these
spiritual gifts, I gave you this much education, I gave you this
much opportunity, I gave you My Word,
what did you do? Because I had a purpose
for your life. There was a good work
that only you could fulfill. And I want you to know
that when you stand before a holy God who is Judge,
not for your sin because that’s taken care of,
I want you to know that I’m going to
evaluate your priorities, your time, your treasure,
your moral purity, and I’m going
to look at your life, and there’s going to be
some people that lives are characterized primarily by
gold, silver, precious stones. They were faithful,
they were generous, they were other-centered,
they were servants, they cared, they shared
the Gospel with others. And there’s going to be other
people that, you know, ‘I came to know Christ,
and it was really real and He was a little part
of my life and, you know, if I had a dollar,
I’d put it in here, and I tried to be sort
of a nice person,’ but their priorities,
their time, their treasure, their relationship with Christ was sort of a peripheral
thing over here, and they will suffer loss.” When you get to heaven, —
are you ready for this? — how you live your faith now
has a direct correlation to the quality
of your life in heaven. Not whether you’re going
to get there or not. I think, somehow, we have
this unconscious, like, heaven is sort of this
socialistic republic where we all look the same,
we all have a robe, and we all have
the same experience. Nothing could be farther
from the truth. Jesus talked about
“lay up for yourself treasure.” He wasn’t kidding.
It’s not like a metaphor. He’s telling us that,
“Invest your life wisely. Seek first the kingdom of God
and His righteousness,” and He says, “I’ll take care
of all these other things.” And we’re in a battle,
we’re seduced by the world. It’s very challenging
to live the kind of life, but it’s worth it. The second judgment
is a judgment of unbelievers. I didn’t grow up as a Christian,
and I had different seasons growing up where
I felt like I really want to get right with God,
and I didn’t really know how. I’d rejected religion,
rejected church. In Hebrews 9:27, this is
what every single person on the face of the earth
needs to understand, “it’s appointed
unto man once to die and after this, the judgment.” Every one of your friends, every
one of your family members, every one of your
fellow employees, every one of your kids,
every one of your relatives, they’re going to die
and when they die, they’re going to be either
in Christ or out of Christ. And they’ll be judged. They’ll get exactly
what they deserve. If you find yourself,
right now, sitting in this room
or watching this and are not absolutely certain
that you would spend eternity with Christ because you
received Him as your Savior, I want to give you time to have
a very private conversation to put things right and ask Him
to come into your life. And, if you’re like
most of all of us, that you know for sure
that you are a believer, but you would say
that your priorities, the Judgment Seat of Christ, probably would not be
a really great experience, then I want to give you
a moment to ask God, “What would need to be
realigned in my life?” CHIP: I have to tell you that,
at the end of this message, I fielded a number of very
deep questions by both believers and unbelievers because this
concept of His fairness and His retribution
has really huge implications. So let’s ask and answer
the question together. How do we respond
to the justice of God? First, I want to say this:
I believe that there are many, many people who, you know,
maybe went to a camp years ago or have prayed a prayer,
but in your honest moments you really recognize
that your lifestyle and your values,
they don’t really represent an authentic follower of Christ. And so I want to just
challenge you as gently as I can to examine yourself. And here’s the thing:
Choose to receive Jesus as your Savior and your Lord
rather than meet Him later as your righteous Judge. Jesus made
this amazing promise, He says, “Truly, truly, I say
to you, he that hears My Word and believes on Him that
sent Me has eternal life.” Listen to that.
It’s present tense. You can know for sure that
you’ve passed from judgment, and you’ve come
into eternal life. So if you have never, ever
done that or you’re not sure, can I encourage you?
Make that decision today. Secondly, refuse to
take your own revenge. The resentment, the bitterness
within families, with friends, ex-mates, people that
have ripped you off, let me tell you,
it will destroy your life. God is the righteous Judge. Everyone is going to get
exactly what they deserve, so give that job
to God and release it. And then finally, I’m going
to ask you to ponder your whole life. You know, we talked about every
believer is going to stand before the Judgment
Seat of Christ, and your eternal experience
is going to be qualitatively based on what you do with what
God has given you in this life. So let me just encourage you
to say, “My time, my talent, my energy, my education,
what am I doing with that now, with the gifts
that God has given me? If you’ve never done
that before, it’s a great starting point
to begin to really understand, not only the justice of God,
but that He wants to give you the best. It provides incredible
accountability and motivation. Here’s what I want you to know:
Life isn’t fair, but God is.ANNOUNCER: Right now
across the globe
there is a spiritual famine.We see it in a broken
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2 thoughts on “The Justice of God – Chip Ingram

  1. I love the way God works. I shared this message was someone who really needed it. I just really hope they receive it. Please keep up the great work.

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