In response to my assertion that it would have been more just if God had allowed Jesus to live and humanity to perish, Donald Sensing writes:

I don't agree with this at all because it uses a fallen, sin-ridden concept of "just" and justice. God is just, no doubt, but on his terms, not our own. God's justice is gracious rather than judicial because God's justice redeems and saves rather than condemns. In God's justice we do not get what we deserve, which is sort of the whole point of the Jesus story.
I think this is just quibbling over semantics; I think Rev. Sensing and I agree foundationally, but he's not using words the same way I am.

A distinction is generally made between God's justice and his mercy; God is always just, but apparently only sometimes merciful. For instance, all humanity has the opportunity to go to Heaven, but when someone continually rejects that opportunity God eventually abandons him to his fate. See also numerous examples in the Old Testament in which God executed rather swift judgement without any opportunity for repentance. There's a lot of context necessary to understand Romans 9, but consider verse 15:

Romans 9:15

For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."

To say that "God's justice is gracious" because "it saves rather than condemns" isn't really accurate. We aren't redeemed because of God's justice, we're redeemed because of his love and mercy. Justice would give us what we deserve -- death -- but because of love and mercy we are given life. Jesus' death was the supreme display of God's mercy, and his sacrifice allowed us to escape God's justice.



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