The Justice, Mercy, and Freedom of God in Election, Part 3 (Romans Sermon 67 of 120)
April 24, 2005 | Andrew Davis
Glory of God, Justice of God, Forgiveness
Questioning God’s Justice
We continue to look at Romans 9 and verses 14-16 in particular. I love the Scripture that says, "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together." Isn't that wonderful, to just think about that? And I've mentioned before that that word comes from a Latin root which means to make God greater, and you know that we cannot do that. We can't make God any greater than He is. He's already great above the Heavens, but He is not great enough in one place and that is in your heart. And so we magnify the Lord when we get together and we make Him greater. Well, now I want to change it a little bit and say, "Oh justify the Lord with me." What does that mean? Well, again from the Latin it means to make God just and righteous. Can we make Him any more just and righteous than He is? No, we cannot, but there is a place where He's not just and righteous enough and that's in your heart and mine.
And as we come to the doctrine of unconditional election, as we try to understand it, it is possible that God may not seem just to you and that's why we're looking carefully at this issue of the justice of God in unconditional election. It's also possible that you will face trials in your life. Maybe now, maybe in the future, again, where God will appear unjust. And I think at that point, it will be important for you to understand just how just and righteous our God is. The devil is always wanting to hand you that accusation that God is unjust, and when you are going through a terrible trial and you're facing great difficulties, he wants to cut the roots out from under you so that you have no resources to face it; and the way he does that is by whispering and insinuating that God is unjust. May it never be. And so, it's not just that we might understand God's sovereignty and unconditional election. But we also consider Romans 9 today so that you might be protected and buttressed against this attack of the devil. It is one of the stranger and more fascinating elements of studying history and realizing that human suffering inevitably gives rise to accusations that God is unjust.
A clear example of this is found in Elie Wiesel's book, Night. Elie Wiesel was born in Hungary in 1928. He, a young Jewish man with his family, was in turn at the death camp at Auschwitz and then transferred to Buchenwald. And there came a point where it seems, at least in the account, that he lost his faith in a just and righteous and good and sovereign God. And this is what he wrote, the scene was at Rosh Hashanah, New Year's celebration, in the death camp. And as he was there and they were going through the language of worship to almighty God, he just stopped and couldn't continue and this is what he wrote,
"Thousands of voices repeated the benediction in the service, 'Blessed be the name of the Eternal.' Why? Why should I bless Him? In every fiber I rebelled because he had had thousands of children burned in his pits, because he kept six crematories working night and day on Sundays and feast days. Because in his great might he had created Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna and so many other factories of death. How could I say to him, 'Blessed art Thou eternal Master of the universe," who chose us from among the races to be tortured day and night, to see our fathers and our mothers and brothers end in the crematory. 'Praise be Thy Holy Name,' Thou who has chosen us to be butchered on Thy altar? This day I ceased to plead. I was no longer capable of lamentation. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser and God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone, terribly alone, in a world without God and without man, without love or mercy. I had ceased to be anything but ashes, and yet I felt myself to be stronger than the Almighty."
Now isn't that striking? Wasn't that striking? "I felt very strong," he said, "I was the accuser and God the accused." It was God's justice that was on trial there. Now, when God is on trial things are strange in the universe, aren't they? When the created says to the Creator, "You are unjust," that's when we're dealing with a very serious issue. And that's the very issue that Paul is dealing with in Romans 9. He's been teaching the doctrine of unconditional election, as an answer to the practical question of why it is so many Jews were rejecting the Gospel of Christ. And so in Romans 9:11-13 he says, "Not only that, but Rebecca's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac, and yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose in election might stand, not by works but by Him who calls, she was told the older will serve the younger just as it is written Jacob I loved and Esau I hated." And that seems unjust. Paul wants to deal with that.
Job’s Questioning of God’s Justice
Now the feeling of injustice rises up even in the most godly heart. You look for example at the case of Job, as he's going through great afflictions and you wonder, at the end it says, early on in the account, "In all these things Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." Well that was early, friends. If you keep reading the account, there comes a point where he says in Job 19:6-7, "God has wronged me, and He's drawn His net around me. Though I cry, 'I've been wronged,' I get no response, though I call for help, listen, there is no justice." He's speaking about God, isn't he? In Job 19, he's questioning God's justice. Now at the end of Job, you know he repents. You may wonder what did he repent from? Well, that might be one thing to repent from. To say to God, because these terrible things are happening in my life, You are unjust. Well, he's not. And Elihu who spoke the truth when he said this, "It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice. Can he who hates justice govern? Will you condemn the Just and Mighty One?" Well, that's Elihu. Even more pointedly it's God.
And in Job 40 it says, "The Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. 'Brace yourself like a man. I will question you, and you will answer Me. Would you discredit My justice? Would you condemn Me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God's? And can your voice thunder like His? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.'" This is an issue of questioning the justice of God. Is God unjust? And I say to you, if you haven't already faced it in your life, you will face it at some point. of the concentration camps in World War II, and they wonder where is the justice of God in all that People face it when they face great trials and when they face great suffering. Perhaps they have lost a precious child to cancer or perhaps the spouse was killed in a car accident. Perhaps they themselves have a lingering illness and it seems God isn't answering the prayer for healing. And perhaps they look at massive events in history, like this issue. And at that point when we are most vulnerable, you know the devil never fights fair, he's not going to come at you in a position of strength, he's going to come when you're weak. And at that time, he's going to insinuate that God is unjust. I say to you from Romans 9:14, May it never be.
II. Romans 9: Six Reasons Why God is NOT Unjust
Now, two weeks ago we looked at very quickly, I just named them and barely discussed them, six reasons from Romans 9, why God is not unjust. I'd like to look a little more carefully at them today. They are the nature of God, the nature of justice, now the nature of mercy, the nature of sovereignty, the nature of self-revealed glory, and the nature of humanity.
III. Reason #1: The Nature of God
Let's look at the first one, the nature of God. God is not unjust because of who He is, God is not unjust in unconditional election, simply because God can never be unjust in anything He does. God's actions are by definition just, because He is the absolute standard of justice in the universe. Also this argument is most powerful because God displayed His justice brilliantly in Christ at the cross. That's the summary of the point that I was seeking to make then.
Now, let's look and listen to some details. First of all, look at the grammar. If you look at verse 14, I think the New American Standard has the best translation. The question in the Greek is written in such a way as to expect the answer, 'No.' So the NASB translates it well I think, "What then shall we say? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be." There is a passion to this answer. We wouldn't just say, "No, I guess not." Paul sure wouldn't say, "No, I guess not." No, may it never be, there can never be any injustice with God. He deals with it quite directly. Quite powerfully. And why is that?
Proved by His Statements Through the Prophets
Well, first of all, let's try to understand who it is we're talking about simply from Scripture. God has revealed Himself in the prophets to be utterly passionate about justice. He's committed to justice in a way we can scarcely imagine. For example, there are declarations of God's justice. Psalm 9 says, "The Lord reigns forever. He has established His throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness. He will govern the peoples with justice." Or again in Psalm 11 it says, "For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice, upright men will see His face." And again in Psalm 36:6, "Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your justice like the great deep."
And we could multiply these kinds of plain statements. The Psalmist and the prophets, again and again, are saying the same thing, God is just all the time. He's a just God. Well how about the commandments that He gives to us? For example, He gives commandments to the Israelites that they should raise up or that they would appoint judges in their society, who would deal with court cases, they would deal with legal cases. And this is God's command to judges, through Moses. He said, "Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you." And so He clearly commands judges to follow justice and justice alone. He says don't give any advantage to the rich, don't give any disadvantage to the rich or the same on the poor. Follow justice and justice alone, that's what He tells the judges to do.
Or again in Micah 6:8, "He has told you O man what is good, and what the Lord requires of you, but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." That's what He wants from you. He wants you to be just. Why? Because He is just. And then there are statements made through the prophets. Oh, we could multiply these again and again, how much of the minor prophets concerned about issues of social justice, how much are they concerned about issues of poverty and how the widow is treated and how the orphan is treated. Again and again God establishes this matter of justice as one of the main reasons He's going to be judging Israel, because they were not just to the poor and needy. But listen to what He says in Isaiah 10:1-3, He says, "Woe to you who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of My people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?"
What does He say there in Isaiah 10:1-3, except that God is very concerned about matters of justice to the poor, to the downtrodden, to the widow, and to the orphan. Well, this is especially true in His statements about Judgment Day. Now the apostle Paul said in Acts 17:31, that God has set a day when He will judge the world with justice through the Man that He has appointed. That man is Christ. He's going to judge the whole world with justice. These are clear statements. Judgment Day will be a time when it says in Romans 2, that God will give to each person according to what he has done. God is a God of justice.
Proved by His Actions in History
Well, God's justice is especially proved also not just in His statements, but in His actions through history. He brought a flood on the entire ancient world as a matter of justice. He brought fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah as a matter of justice. And when Abraham, His prophet and His friend stood before Him, interceding concerning a matter of justice, Abraham said, "Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right?" The answer is, "Even if there are 10 righteous people in the city I will spare it." That's not just justice there, that is mercy, but God clearly displayed His justice there. By the way, Abraham in asking that, shows that spark that we are created in the image of God and we have a concern for justice. More about that in a moment. But throughout history God has proven His commitment to justice, but the highest display of all is in Christ, amen. Jesus Christ is the Righteous One. He came to display justice, to declare justice and ultimately to die for justice.
He displayed justice in the fact that He always did what was right at every moment. He always loved the Lord His God and He always loved his neighbor as Himself, He was perfectly law abiding. He was a perfectly just man.
Christ declared justice to the nations it says in Matthew 12, "He will declare justice to the islands and to the distant lands." He was a proclaimer of justice. He said, concerning the Pharisees, He said, "You give a tenth of your spices, mint, dill and cumin, but you have neglected the more important matters of the law: Justice, mercy and faithfulness." There He is declaring justice to the nations. But most especially, He came to die for justice. Now, how does this work? Here's the issue: the issue is that all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We're going to talk more about that in a moment. But the real shocker with salvation is not that there are any that go to hell. It’s that any (or many) don’t go to hell and actually instead go to heaven. How did we get there? Do you ever wonder that?
How did David the adulterer and the murderer get there? What happened to his sin? What happened to his death penalty? I thought, in the Law of Moses he deserved to die. Nathan said, "You shall not die." Well, what happened to David's death penalty? That is a big problem for God. It may not be a big problem for us because we're kind of hoping for mercy all the time, and we're wanting to be covered all the time, and we're used to that kind of thing. But for God and the holy angels in Heaven, this is a big issue. How did he get here? And so his sin must be dealt with. And it never was in the Old Testament account. But it was dealt with, wasn't it? It was dealt with by Christ at the cross, and some of the most important verses on the justice of God are in Romans 3:25-26, and there it says that God presented Christ as a propitiation, "a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished." He's talking there about David and others, He's talking about Noah in his drunkenness. He's talking about Abraham and his lying, He's talking about the sins of every person that's up in Heaven from the Old Testament era. What happened to their death penalty? It was paid. It was paid by Christ.
God demonstrated His justice at the cross. Verse 26 says, "He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be both just and also the justifier of those who have faith in Christ." God cares about justice enough to slaughter His Son on that matter. Now, that's incredible. And I said a moment ago, we have a spark of concern over justice. You know why? Because we're created in the image of God. But as I mentioned, two weeks ago, your spark is like a match compared to the raging inferno of the sun. You take your little match and you take God burning like the sun, that is the comparison of your concern over justice and God's. God is deeply passionately and totally committed to justice.
IV. Reason #2: The Nature of Justice
Secondly, let's talk about the nature of justice itself. What is it? What are we even talking about? The word in Greek can be translated two ways, justice or righteousness. They're the same. How does God define this matter, justice or righteousness? Well, we need a standard, don't we? We need a standard. Have you ever gotten one of those cheap yard sticks like from... It's made out of wood and it just expands and contracts with the weather, if it's humid or whatever, it's larger or smaller. Say we need a better, a better yard stick, right?
Well, how do you know what a yard is or a meter or something like that? There's got to be a standard somewhere. And all governments have known this and they inevitably set up a Government Bureau of Standards of Weights and Measures and other things, and against that standard no one can argue. There has to be a starting point, there has to be a standard. And there is in our nation. The National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. See, now you know. And for $10,000 you can send anything to them and they'll measure it as accurately as you want, but woe to you if you question them and say, "I think my yard stick's more accurate than yours."
There must be a standard somewhere. And I tell you that this whole matter is a reflection of the image of God that we're in. There is a standard of righteousness and it's God Himself. God is the standard of righteousness. In Revelation 16, the angels are pouring out the bowls of wrath on Earth, and on the third bowl the angel pours out the bowl and the fresh water is turned into blood all over the Earth. And then, it's fascinating what happens, in Revelation 16:5-7, this is what it says, "Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say," listen carefully, "You are just in these judgments, You who are and who were the Holy One, because you have so judged." Now, let me tell you something, that's the way the angels think. You are just because this is what You decided to do. But he doesn't stop there. This is very interesting, "'For they have shed the blood of Your saints and prophets and You have given them blood to drink as they deserve.' And I heard the altar respond, 'Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are Your judgments.'"
Do you see there are two levels of dealing with this question about justice? The first level is simply because God said so. Now tell me, you parents, you haven't used this one, "Because I'm the daddy, that's why. Because I'm the mommy that's why." Of course, it's not very satisfying to the 5-year-old who wants a third dessert, and there's no way you're going to be able to explain why two desserts is mercy anyway. They're never going to get it.
And the fact of the matter is you don't have time to persuade them that your ways are righteous and just. And in the end you say, "Because I'm the daddy, that's why, now wash up and go to bed." So what is going on there? Well, here's the issue, it's one of a standard that must be held in the family. Whether they see it or not, whether they understand it or not. And the Scripture testifies that God's ways are so much higher than our ways. His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts that we could never fully understand all that He's doing. Just like God moves in a mysterious way that we sang earlier, we can't trace out what He's doing. And is the universe going to stop and wait until we all get it and see it? No, "Because I'm the daddy, that's why" is a dim reflection of, "Because I'm God, that's why, and everything I do is just and righteous whether you understand it or not."
But it doesn't stop there. That's the first level, the second level is… Do you see the correspondence? Do you see what God's done? He turned the fresh water into blood and they deserve it, because they have shed the blood of the saints and prophets, and so You have given them blood to drink, as they deserve. There's a lining up there. What I believe will happen is when our salvation is finished, we will see it the way God does. When we are done being transformed from everything that sin's done to these minds of ours, we will not be troubled anymore by these questions because there will be a perfect harmony and unity between what God has done in history and His nature and His character. And that brings me to the third and the greatest issue, and that is the issue of what is justice itself.
Now, we touched on this, and this is not easy to understand, especially for us sinners, but remember what happened up there on that mount with Moses. Moses is there saying, "Now show me Your glory." We talked about this last week, And the Lord said, "I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim My name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." Well, God's justice, that is His righteousness, is His commitment to His name and His own glory. That's what it is. Now, let me explain how I understand this. All justice is based on a scale of value in the society. The more something's worth, the more the law must protect it, that's the way it works.
So there's a difference between petty larceny and grand theft because there's a difference in the value of the thing stolen. There's a difference between robbery and assault because there's a higher value of the person than there is to his possessions. There's a difference between murder and assault because there's a higher value of the person's life than a part of their body. And even in some states, and perhaps even in most, there's a difference between, let's say, attacking, and killing a law officer or what they call a peace officer, and a private citizen, because they see it as an attack on the system itself. And in some states they say this meets the criteria for the death penalty. It doesn't mean that the person is intrinsically of a higher value, but within society there's something higher that's being protected there.
What is the highest, most valuable thing in the universe? It is God's glory, that is the highest thing there is in the universe. Therefore, God's laws and His ways and His decisions and everything He does protects that and lifts it up. That God is the Sovereign King, that He is glorious, that His name is Majestic, that's the highest thing. Therefore a righteous and just man values highest what is of highest value in the universe, and that is God's glory. And if he doesn't or she doesn't, that person is an idolater, they have exchanged the glory of God for something created, because there's nothing else in the universe except for what God created and God. And so we put God above all things. And as justice, we must have His name, His honor, His reputation as the highest above all things, that is what justice is.
V. Reason #3: The Nature of Mercy
The third reason is the nature of mercy. This, I have to say to you, brothers and sisters, was the first understanding I came to this text. You know that troubling little word 'for' at the beginning of verse 15? I've understood it one way. Now I understand it a little bit differently, but it says, "What then shall we say, Is God unjust? May it never be, for He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'" I said, "Wait a minute, that's a disconnect. How is that an answer? I don't get it, it still seems unjust. It's just a restatement of the problem." Well, no it isn't actually. Is God unjust? No, for He says, I will have what? Mercy. Oh, how did we change from justice to mercy? Well, that's the issue. That is the issue.
The bottom line is do you really want that kind of justice from God? Is that what you would demand on Judgment Day? Lord, I want justice, I want a careful and meticulous accounting of every single thing, I want everything dealt with properly, God. That's really what I want. Is that, in fact, what you want? Is it not rather that these words resonate with you in Luke 18, "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'Be merciful to me, the sinner.'" Isn't that more like what you're like in God's presence? Isn't that what you want from God on Judgment Day? Mercy. And give me mercy.
Well, what is mercy? Well, it's God's commitment to not treat us as our sins deserve. To free us from the misery that sin has brought on us, to lift us up, frankly, according to the mountain where He's with Moses, right into His very presence so that we can see His glory. Now that's mercy. How can you demand that? You can't demand it. Imagine in the Middle Ages, if there were a mighty Emperor and a bunch of his subjects started a rebellion against his authority and it cost the Emperor much. A lot of property burned, a lot of his soldiers murdered. Finally, the ring leader's caught, and in this Insurrection the Emperor's son was killed. The ring leader's caught, brought up before justice, before the Emperor, said, "What do you have to say for yourself?" Can you imagine that man falling on his face, and pleading with the Emperor for mercy, that he not be executed? I can. It might be a stretch to imagine that he'd get the mercy.
That's amazing that he would do it. But now let me tell you something even more amazing. Can you imagine that man standing with his kind of legs apart like this, his hands on his hips and saying, "Give me mercy. I demand it." And suppose he even kind of supported his argument by saying, "You were merciful to somebody a year ago. You owe me mercy." No, he doesn't. Mercy cannot be demanded, and it's never owed. It's given freely as a gift or it's not given at all.
There's a story told in the Civil War, a soldier in Robert E Lee's army, the Northern Virginia, committed a crime and was brought trembling before Lee. Lee saw how afraid that soldier was and said quietly, "Don't be afraid, son. I'll see that you get justice." He said, "General, that's the very thing I'm afraid of." He's afraid of justice. Martin Luther was afraid of justice before he understood justification. He was afraid of God's justice, because he saw it as how God would send him to hell, and he knew he deserved it. Dorothy Sayers said something interesting. I was reading, and I found this interesting. "When we demand justice, it is always justice on our behalf against other people," for what they've done us. Nobody, I imagine, would ever ask "Give me justice in this case. I've done something wrong to somebody and I want justice." I've never heard of it, I'll have to ask our judge friends. Have you ever seen it in a court? It's always the other way. "I want justice for what was done to me."
And really she says in the end, what we want is revenge, and we want the judicial system to do the revenge for us. We have to understand justice and mercy a little bit differently. Our only hope, friends, is this, and that is the mercy of God. Psalm 130:10 says, "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities." Hallelujah, He doesn't. But, friends, that's mercy, and He gives it freely. Not under obligation.
VI. Reason #4: The Nature of Sovereignty
Reason number four is the nature of sovereignty. We don't need to spend much time on this because we saw it so clearly last week. But the nature of sovereignty consists in God's glory to be free and independent from His creation. A king is not a king if he has to check with his servant or his subjects to see if all of his decisions are the way they want. That's a democracy with the poll numbers and all that, where they're checking to see what the people want.
God doesn't check poll numbers. He is a king, He's sovereign, He does as He pleases with the things on earth, or in heaven, above, they are His. And this is the very freedom that He declared to Moses, when He said His name, and His name is Yahweh I am, I am that I am. We talked about this last week. He is the "I am." And what He's saying is no outside force defines Me, controls Me, dictates to Me. I am and there is no one like me, I am and there is no one before me, there will be none after Me. I am and no one can resist Me or stay My hand, I am that I am. And a corollary to that is I will do what I will do, I will be merciful to whom I will be merciful and I will harden whom I will harden. It's the very thing he says here in verse 16 and in verse 18. God has sovereign freedom in this. Later on Paul is going to elaborate on this in the matter of the freedom of the potter in verse 21 of Romans 9, "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purpose and some also for common use?"
VII. Reason #5: The Nature of Self-Revealed Glory
Reason number five is the nature of self-revealed or personal glory. You may not have thought about this one before, but it occurred to me. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. But what's happening between Moses and God up on the mountain is that Moses a sinner is standing up there. And when he says, "Now show me Your glory," he's saying, "I want to know you better, I want to be drawn into Your inner circle, I want to see more of You. Know more of You, be closer to You, I want to be close to You, God." Can you demand that? Is that a matter of justice?
I remember I shared with you the feeling that you might have if some total stranger came up and demanded to see more of you, you'd think, "This is a stalker and a dangerous individual, I need them dealt with quickly." That's one of the reasons we pay the police is people just like that. That's a little odd, alright, I demand to see more of you. I demand to know you better. I want to be close to you.
Well, if we, sinful small created beings, have that understanding of our personal space and our personal relationships that we give that freely or we don't give it, but it's not a matter of justice or anything that's owed. We give it to our friends, we give it to our husband, to our children. We give it, but it cannot be demanded as a matter of justice. Then we get at what's happening between Moses and God on the mountain. God doesn't have to show him His glory, He doesn't owe it to anybody. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 11:27, He said this very strong statement, "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and... " Praise God for the 'and', "And those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him."
It puts the choice on the Son, and if Jesus wants to reveal the Father to you, He will, and if He doesn't, He won't. He has that freedom. Now here's the thing, you operate that way, that's the way you are in your life, that's the way you are with people you know and don't know, it has to do with friends, it has to do with relationships, it has to do with personal self-revealed glory. It is not a matter of demand, it's not a matter of justice, it's given freely or it is not given.
VIII. Reason #6: The Nature of Humanity
And the sixth and final one has to do with the nature of humanity, there are two important aspects of humanity that I'd like to keep in front of us. First is that we're created beings, and the second is that we're sinful beings. First, in that we're created, we are in no position whatsoever to question God concerning His justice. The angels don't do it, we do it, and God puts up with it. He understands what sin has done to our brains and He is reasoning with us here in Romans 9. Fascinating to me how after the statement later in Chapter 9, He says, "Why does God still find fault, for who resists His will?" And God says, "Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?" That should end the chapter, but it doesn't, He actually goes on and continues to reason with us and give us more insights and more understanding.
That is the mercy of God, He is explaining Himself, but He wants us to know at that point, He doesn't need to tell us anything. And the angels in heaven don't question God this way. We are created beings, He is God and we're not. Like the book of Ecclesiastes says, "God is in heaven, you're on earth. So let your words be few." That's even if we're sinless and pure, but we're not sinless and pure. The fact of the matter is, we're corrupt and sinful and we don't understand justice very well, we think about it all wrong. We're very self-focused in all of our decisions and the way we reason, and not only that, but we're very prideful.
It's interesting to me. I was going out witnessing with Elijah, and the two of us were witnessing here in a neighborhood nearby, connected with the Health Fair. And this one man had read a book recently on the history of Africa, and he said, "Where are you from?" And Elijah said, "I'm from Nigeria." He said, "I know more about Nigeria than you do." Woah.
Elijah's been here a few years and spent the rest of them in Nigeria. He was born there, raised there, speaks several of the languages that they speak over there. To this man I said, "Well that's interesting. Have you ever been to Nigeria?" "No." I said, "This is an amazing study in human arrogance." It really is. "So tell us what you know about Nigeria." And he was going into the issues with the slave traders and some other things, and the importation of Christianity into Nigeria and he was trying to get at the fact that Christianity was not Nigeria's native religion. Well my friends it's nobody's native religion. We're all converted into it. It's not an American religion, it's not a European religions, it's God's religion, which was first revealed in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth.
But this man, I found it interesting the attitude, it's what some sports people call the arm chair quarterback, you know, the Monday morning thing. You have never ever faced what it's like to have a 320 pound guy who wants to kill you, bearing down on you late in the fourth quarter, you had 846 offensive plays to memorize, you had 11 seconds left, and you're trying to complete a sideline pattern… You've never been there, but you would not have thrown that key interception.
You never would have done it. I've heard these talk show people they think that they know better than the coaches that have spent their whole lives studying basketball. They think they know better than the 747 pilot who bounced a little as he landed. Would you like to try? I'd like to be off the plane when you do, but would you like to try? I don't have the right to offer you the airplane, but this is the human heart, this is our arrogance. Now, you say, "but I've known pilots that have made mistakes, I've known quarterbacks that have made..." That's true, but God has never made a mistake, and you're questioning Him. Note well then the arrogance and the pride.
Who are we? Who are we? We're like blind people trying to judge a painting contest, deaf people judging a recital, a piano recital, we don't know justice, we are unjust every day. If you don't think so, ask God, show me ways I've been unjust today. Show me ways. It would have to do with poverty, how you spent your money, how you spend your time, things you say to people, judgments you've had in your heart toward people. You and I, I'm not excluding myself, we are both unjust every day of our lives. And we're going to question God on the issue of unconditional election? We don't have the right. So now God has been on the dock today. We've been questioning Him about His justice. Can I say to you, case dismissed? "What then shall we say, Is God unjust? May it never be." Someday, if you are saved, if you're one of Christ's children, you will see and understand completely, and you will know then that God has never been unjust in anything He's done through the whole path of salvation. If you don't understand unconditional election, don't throw it out. Just say I don't understand it but I humble myself under it, but I know this, my God is never unjust. Close with me if you would in prayer.