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God’s Faithfulness, or God’s Justice, or God’s…What?

September 2, 2016

If we confess our sins,

God who is faithful and just

will forgive us our sins

and cleanse us from all unrightousness.

— 1st John 1:9

Where we stopped here yesterday: Do you lean more on God’s faithfulness or God’s justice?

Since then, I’ve been flashing back to a conversation with my first District Superintendent. Much was in the news and in theological debate at the time about Righteousness as Justice, Justice with Righteousness, and other permutations involving those two words.

I asked him what he thought about it all.

“Justice?! I don’t want justice!”

I turned in the car to look at him. Never had heard him so agitated.

“If it’s all about justice, we’re all doomed!”

Where was my stoic supervisor? Who was this, thundering away behind the wheel?

He caught his breath.

In a voice and volume closer to his normal tone, he said, “Grace. It’s grace. I want grace. And I’m grateful for God’s grace.”

We rode along in silence for awhile.

I might have imagined St. Paul leaning forward from the back seat and chiming in with something like no one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it. 

But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight–not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins.

And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. 

For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty.

He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.

That’s what St. Paul wrote in Romans 3:20-24.

My District Superintendent would have glanced over to the rear view mirror, made eye contact with him, and given him a quick nod.


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