I spent a morning in two completely different conversations. (I am assisting at Evensong this evening, so I have the morning free to drink coffee and perform my usual functions of listening to people online.)

Sometimes the most frustrating conversations are with fellow Christians, to be honest. Many of them get hung up on legalistic thinking, and they're usually proof-texting and taking the Bible as literally as they can, on all fronts. They comb through it looking for groups of people to picket, behaviors to condemn and feel-good passages that build themselves up. And this morning I see a post somewhere that rehashes a literally medieval idea about Christianity: that God, like a feudal Lord, must have his honor avenged for the transgressions of the people in his Fiefdom - and that he therefore pours out his wrath on Jesus, rather than us, to "put right" the wrong by inflicting a punishment. And that we should be thankful that Jesus "took the blow" to keep us all from eternal torture and hellfire.

(The concept, in passing, of an eternal hell is not borne out by the teachings of Jesus and wasn't part of church teachings until about the sixth century - and the person who put it into theological play liked the idea that people who disagreed with him would end up there.)

The other conversation I had was with a user here, and to preserve that person's privacy and the privacy of the conversation - it was about some people seeking justice in injustice.

And those two kind of gelled for me: I'd like to suggest an alternate reading of the Bible and some understandings about what Jesus said which might help with some of the problems we as a society are having.

If you think about the Bible as for what it actually is - a collection of writings by people inspired by God and talking about some of the things that happened - it works better than trying to stitch it all together into a cohesive, infallible rulebook. The very notion that Jesus had to come down from heaven to live amongst us and set things right is kind of proof positive that the first half (in the Christian worldview) missed the mark. Okay, so at first we had laws. Laws were rather necessary to avoid chaos and disorder - and a lawful society is infinitely preferable to a lawless society. One only has to look at what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina - where people sought security and safety and shelter in the Superdome only to be raped alongside buckets of human waste - to see that that was a necessary first step.

Note: first step.

The laws were really meant to limit retribution: to establish at least some measure of fairness in terms of how people treat each other. If one guy knocks another guy's tooth out, then you limit your revenge to knocking out ONE of that person's teeth, not all of them. And you set certain ground rules: don't murder someone, don't steal from them, lie to them, or commit adultery with his wife. This is a code so absolutely basic that it's replicated even amongst the criminal classes who have ostensibly rejected law and society: if you want to end up dead really fast, steal from a fellow gang member, or have sex with his girlfriend. In fact, if you substitute the idea of being loyal to the collective (gang) for being loyal to God, the ten commandments succinctly describe how most gangs work. Have no other loyalty but to the gang, don't disrespect its colors/flag/logo or treat them idly, attend the meetings, oh and yeah - don't kill, steal from, lie to or otherwise mistreat another gang member. Ten crack commandments, indeed.

But there are some fundamental problems with laws.

One article I read a while back dealt with the moral qualms some Islamic doctors had in certain parts of the Islamic world with requests from the legal and religious legal system to inflict retribution. Person A had struck person B resulting in partial paralysis of person B. How do we break the back of person A to cause the same degree of paralysis? Person A burned out person B's eye in an acid attack. Please let us know how to burn out HIS eye with acid but which limits the damage just to the eye, and is done in one penal procedure. Most doctors refused to be party to any of it on moral grounds but also on the practical impossibility of taking the principle of "an eye for an eye" in all cases, or even without unreal cruelty. It's one thing to gouge someone's eye out in a bar fight. It's another to gouge it out of someone who's tied to a post.

The second is of course with any legal system, we find people gaming it. There are innocent men in jail on a technicality, and there are evil, guilty men walking free on a technicality. Jesus himself pointed to the Pharisees and noted drily that they had memorized tomes and tomes of interpretations of statutes to know how to tithe rue and mint, and yet still managed to walk in on a woman who'd just lost her husband and take her house and property as well. All perfectly legal, and all perfectly monstrous. "Why did Moses say to write a ticket of divorcement and then discard a wife?" The response was something to the effect of "because he couldn't stop you from discarding women like used paper plates, but at the very least with a certificate of divorce she could prove she'd been left and therefore could prove it was legal to marry her and get her off the street." The word Jesus used here literally means "to send away/dismiss" - in other words, he was horrified that someone would marry someone, have that person dependent on him, and then say three times "Get out. Get out. Get out." and throw her out the door and lock it behind her. In Jesus' words, the only excuse to unilaterally throw a woman out of your house is if you caught her sleeping with someone else - but naturally that passage is only ever invoked these days to "prove" gay marriage is wrong. eyeroll.

The third, and here's the anecdote that starts to hint at the futility of law: is not only is it trying to repair things after the fact, it tries to fix the wrong problem.

I was reading, teary-eyed, a story on NPR about a young man named Thelonious Monk - after the jazz musician. The authors became aware of Mr. Monk after their stolen car had been recovered. They knew quite a bit about him after they recovered the car, but all they knew at the time they got it back was that he was a young man who'd been shot fatally in the chest. When the police went over the evidence they realized the car was theirs, not his, and called them up to come get it out of the Baltimore impound.

Mr. Monk had installed a subwoofer in the car, all the better to roll the window down and enjoy his preferred mode of music while riding around in his stolen car.

Mr. Monk had also installed a baby seat.

There were dozens of job applications strewn about the car as well. Mr. Monk had been very busy with that car - applying everywhere he could for work. He wasn't picky or choosy - he was just hitting the pavement trying to find some way to get started, to get employed, to rub two dimes together to make a quarter, in the parlance of some.

You got the feeling based on how they described the impression of Mr. Monk as they pieced his life together from the remnants of his death - that if they'd only known, they'd have given him the damn car.

The word for "justice" in the English language at the time of the translation of the King James Bible was "righteousness". The idea of the righteousness of God is something that the Bible talks about over and over, and it's something that many, many people have got horribly, horribly wrong.

To illustrate it, Jesus tells a story about some workers in a vineyard. It was the custom to go into the market and hire people, much in the same way some people these days pull up to a Home Depot and call out to some illegal migrant laborers to get in the back of the truck. Work gets done, cash changes hands, workers go home. The story is that there's more than enough work so the foreman goes back into the market twice: at mid-day, and towards the end of the day. The men in both cases are grateful for the work, despairing that they had found none for that day.

When it came time to pay these people, the people hired close to closing time were paid a full day's wages. The people hired at the beginning of the day were very excited - because if the people who had work an hour or two got a full day's worth of pay, surely they'd get much more. And they were crestfallen when they got a day's pay themselves. They complained - "this isn't fair, we worked more than they did and got the same wages". And the owner of the vineyard gives a speech saying something to the effect that everyone got to go home at the end of the day with enough to buy what they needed to eat and enough to be housed. Stop worrying about what's fair, and worry more about what's just. Nobody goes home hungry.

And that's increasingly our problem: we're terribly, terribly worried about things being "fair". Especially when things being "fair" is to our advantage. I've seen people calling for the equalization of money --- within US borders, naturally. Everyone can get on board with the idea of relieving Donald Trump of his wealth and having that "redistributed" to others. Nobody is on board to have their own net worth reduced by 90% so that people in Syria are no longer starving to death, that people in Guatemala have clean drinking water and shelter, and so forth.

One horrific implementation of this is in Europe, where they're musing liquidating all social services and giving EVERY adult $800 a month instead. Oh, were you expecting more in social security? Handicapped and need housing? Good luck with that $800. Of course, the folks with all the money are all for it, because that's an extra $800 they can use to buy wine. One young man who lives near me bitterly hates Obamacare - because sure, it made insurance cheaper for some older folks in the Democrat voting bloc, but it also took away the state aid that his sister depended on for care for her son - and there's precious little other help for a kid with cerebral palsy in the 'hood. What you had was the aid you needed. Now you get cheaper insurance. Good luck with that, oh, sure, at your income level it's subsidized now - but good luck with the deductibles. Meanwhile, two kids just down the road from me are happily using Grandma's perfectly serviceable electric wheelchair as a go-kart, Medicare bought her another one. I'm choking back tears thinking about what that field hospital we worked with in Central America had and didn't have. They didn't give one mad fuck, excuse my language, that the vitamins they had were EXPIRED, they were going to keep some small child with only corn tortillas and black coffee for a diet from having irreversible lifelong complications from malnutrition.

Everyone's on board with the idea of "taking from" group A to redress past wrongs from people of group B - that's another one. And yet this leads to some awful, awful tribalism for starters - and doesn't fix the problem in others. Down that path lies madness - and of course the further down that rabbit hole you go, the more you get tripped up by the shades of grey. Someone mocked the fact that one of the Black Lives Matters protestors on hunger strike a while back was worth several million dollars - still doesn't change a thing if a racist cop puts a bullet in the back of your head. Just this morning I read about an Atlanta rapper by the same of Blac Youngsta - on the floor with a gun in the back of his head after withdrawing $200,000 of his own money from a bank to buy a car. But again, we're trying once again to make things "fair" and many, many times making things "fair" doesn't fix what's just or isn't just. I'm not going to go further down that path because I'll get ratpacked in the messages box with people complaining about their group's personal slight. But put yourself for one moment in the place of God, hearing the complaints from every single person at once, having no partiality, hoping and wishing that they'd just get along and look after each other.

Jesus hung with Samaritans. He talked to women. He handled unclean people. You thought Princess Diana hugging an AIDS patient broke barriers? Try Jesus holding a leper, at a time in which doing so meant you were spiritually unclean, as well. One of the most groundbreaking things Christianity has said (a sentiment echoed by other religions, but hang with me) was Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." By personal example, Jesus upheld the core humanity of everyone concerned time and time and time again- even in a challenging passage where he appears to call a woman from another tribe a "dog". (My personal belief is that he knew her answer, he was asking for the sake of the assembled around them, challenging THEIR prejudices not showing his own).

And his message was about grace. About giving people what they need. About not necessarily being fair, but doing what's right. If a man is naked, GIVE HIM YOUR CLOAK. AND give him your tunic as well. Lose your attachments to your things (do not build up treasures on earth), lose your attachments to family (do not prefer your mother and father), and lose your attachment to yourself (or your own life also). Once you do that, you're going to be able to get out there and try and fix everything broken around you.

So no. God's "justice" was not fulfilled in him angrily nailing Jesus to a cross. WE did that. God's justice was in giving up every aspect of his heavenly glory to shine a light in the darkness and to get us to love each other.

By saying we're all sinners, Jesus isn't telling us we're all dirty, he's telling us we're all broken. We have no right to criticize each other, we haven't walked one step in each others' shoes, and we all have skeletons in our own closets.

Someone once asked me how forgiveness works. The best metaphor I came up with is a high school football coach. A kid runs off the field apprehensive and apologizing for dropping a pass - the last coach would chew out a player forever about something like that, and the coach says "forget about it, don't dwell on it, i believe in you - just get out there and make the next play." Another kid on the sideline is throwing his helmet and badmouthing that player about it and the coach says to him "either knock that off, or leave. There are 48 players on this sideline, I can't have you and your drama bringing that down. Play the game, or go shower."

That's grace. It's been extended to us, we need to extend it to each other.

 

Now, please, whether you're Jewish, atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu - whatever - please go out there, and be righteous to one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is justice missing in this world past and present? One wants to turn the news off these days. What law should we follow? Man or God's? Why do we need grace if humans have re-defined law and punishment for injustice, that man cannot even get right? When someone is wrongfully treated, do they not demand justice? What does Judgement Day mean? Divine retribution ---for what is deemed by God for iniquity {depravity} (ironically the similar word, inequity is unfair justice)--- is no more of a deterrent than within secular situations. (There are 66 bible passages mentioning the Wrath of God.) There's no mincing words when Nahum the prophet warned:

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. (ESV Nahum 1:2-6)
One hopes for a change of heart, that then they either will not commit transgressions (which are against God and man) initially, or thereafter.

Grace and Law are connected. As is Justice. Scripture makes the case way before supposed Medieval interpreters are to be blamed for putting the reader under conviction.

Law

Let's look at what "law" is first. The word is in scripture a whopping 670 times. According to the great 13th Century Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, there are:

Four kinds of law

1.) Eternal law. God governs the universe through physical laws, moral laws, and revealed religious laws. Eternal law includes all of these.

2.) Natural law (moral law). This is the part of the eternal law that applies to human choices and can be known by our natural reason.*

3.) Human law (civil law). We create our own laws, in order to apply the natural law to the specific circumstances of our society.

4.) Divine law (biblical law). In the Bible, God reveals a special law to guide us to our supernatural end of eternal happiness with Him.--(http://www.harryhiker.com/ms/aquina00.htm)

Aquinas taught, "Law is nothing other than a certain ordinance of reason for the common good, promulgated by the person who has the care of the community."

Now as to "The Law," as mentioned in scriptures there can be confusion (even by devoted Bible readers) with God's Law and Moses' law. Moses' law was the temporary, ceremonial law of the Old Testament; for example the food and clothes and other accouterments. Also there are the Ten Commandments, or the Decalogue, which are God's Law also termed the Royal Law, or the Testimony. Both are in detail in Leviticus. The former placed beside the Ark of the Covenant, and the latter inside it. The "Golden Rule" was summed up in Leviticus 19:18, "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." These 10 Commandments were not nullified, "The works of his hands are faithful and just;all his precepts are trustworthy; 8) they are established forever and ever,to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness." (Psalm 111:7,8)

This summation of God's law is further reiterated by Jesus in Mark (12:29- 31),

Jesus answered, "The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one, the second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Jesus warns us in Matthew 10:28 (ESV) {Additionally, look at the context from verse 32 which follows.}

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

32) So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33) but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."

34) "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35) For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36) And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39) Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Social equity is part of the plan. Isaiah mentions abuse of the poor along with idolatry. Jesus made it clear what fate befell the man who was forgiven huge debts, and then cruelly demanded what was due him from another. When the original master found out, the unforgiving one was turned over to the tormentors. In case the point was missed, when Jesus talked about the enemy's weeds sown into his garden, he finishes the parable in Matthew 13 (ESV) with this allusion:

28) He said to them, "An enemy has done this." So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29) But he said, "No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30) Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

There is an importance to know the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. The latter is that clinging to God and His word so that it will cleanse one with faith. The faith of the Old Testament saints was in a coming Redeemer, now the Good News has come, that, as Christ cried on the cross, "It is finished."

Daniel in the ninth chapter of his book verses 10 and 11 mentions both here:
Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which he set before us by His servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed Your law, even by departing, that they might not obey Your voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him.

 Daniel mentions justice in the 2nd verse of his 12th chapter, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

It is not fair to take too much of Paul's writings out of context, though his Romans 3:23 (original sin) is oft quoted, "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Hopefully you will forgive my extended quote (NASB) of all of Romans chapter 7:

1) Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law ), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?
2) For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.
3) So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
4) Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
5) For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
6) But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
7) What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet."
8) But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.
9) I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;
10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;
11) for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
12) So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13) Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
14) For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
15) For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
16) But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
17) So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
18) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
19) For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20) But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21) I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22) For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23) but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
24) Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord ! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Sometimes the term "flesh" is translated the "sin nature." What is sin? Dictionary.com helps us:

Sin

noun

1.) transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.
2.) any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
3.) any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense

This is what has been inherited from Adam, a propensity of the will to go its own way, and contrary to God Almighty. The Serpent (which later books reveal him as Satan {accuser} in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:4-6 NASB) sold everyone a bill of goods:

4) But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5) For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6) So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise...
The Devil and his fruit are lies, destruction and death. Lucifer (this once enlightened archangel's original name), the entity and his followers for whom Hell was made, speaks part truths which are as evil as a total lie. God now has to keep humankind from eternal life, (the Tree of Life) and their destiny is eternal death. The reason the mentioning of the fallen angelic beings is scarce for not wanting to give too much advertising to those who took part in the ultimate rebellion. This message of infinite consequences was from the very beginning, not some Dark Ages addition. We think we are all that and a bag of chips on our own without God and following his commands, but our pride, --passed down (nature/nurture) in the DNA and upbringing --kills for eternity. But, we are told later, "...that none should perish."

In Acts (of the Apostles) 13:38,39 the Apostle Paul explains how the Law of Moses was insufficient:

Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
Paul was clear when writing to his young protégé, Timothy about how the Judaic ceremonial laws were fulfilled, thus not only redundant, but heretical:
1) Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2) through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3) who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5) for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (Tim 4 ESV)
 

Justice

Oxford dictionary has this definition for justice:

1) Just behavior or treatment

1.1) The quality of being fair and reasonable

1.2) The administration of the law or authority in maintaining this
Synonyms:

fairness, justness, fair play, fair-mindedness, equity, evenhandedness, impartiality, objectivity, neutrality, disinterestedness, honesty, righteousness, morals, morality

The word justice is found 212 times in Scripture. Sometimes the ones pointing fingers at another meting out justice need to check themselves first. Jesus made sure we understood this relayed by Luke:

41) "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42) "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye."

Be very aware that in scripture God makes it clear that his justice is always fair. Of course, that doesn't always line up with our interpretation. But, it is written in Proverbs 16:25 (AKJV), "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."

Paul explained how we would carry out good justice within community in Galatians 6:2 (NIV); "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."`Habakkuk 2:4 was the inspiration for Paul's statement (which was Martin Luther's monumental answer to his continual concern about God's justice) in the 17th verse of the first chapter in that famous letter to the Roman believers that "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'But the righteous man shall live by faith.'"

Jesus talked about life, obedience, and wrath, (John 3:36 ESV ) "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."

Justin Martyr in about 150 AD seemed to see what the Alpha and the Omega Supreme Supreme Justice would do, “We have been taught that only they may aim at immortality who have lived a holy and virtuous life near to God. We believe that they who live wickedly and do not repent will be punished in everlasting fire. Hell is a place where those are to be punished who have lived wickedly and who do not believe that those things which God has taught us by Christ will come to pass” (First Apology, 21). --(https://gospellightminute.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/what-10-early-church-fathers-said-about-hell-bad-news-good-news-about-hell-1/)

12

Second Clement (150 AD) “But when they see how those who have sinned and who have denied Jesus by their words or by their deeds are punished with terrible torture in unquenchable fire.” Also Clement wrote, “If we do the will of Christ, we shall obtain rest; but if not, if we neglect his commandments, nothing will rescue us from eternal punishment.” (http://www.letusreason.org/Curren35.htm))

In 189 AD, Irenaeus of Lyons explained, "It is indeed proper to God, and befitting His character, to show mercy and pity, and to bring salvation to His creatures, even though they be brought under danger of destruction. 'For with Him,' says the Scripture, 'is propitiation.'" And to make it clear he stated, “The penalty increases for those who do not believe the Word of God and despise his coming ... It is not merely temporal, but eternal. To whomsoever the Lord shall say, 'Depart from me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire,' they will be damned forever” He writes also, We therefore have formed the belief that our bodies also do rise again....but as they departed this life, in sins or in righteous actions: and such as they were, such shall they be clothed with upon resuming life; and such as they were in unbelief, such shall they be faithfully judged." (Against Heresies, 4:28:2 and other).

Grace

Grace is cited 277 times throughout the bible. In the Gospel of John 1:17 this simple statement by the writer puts it in perspective, "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."

So a case is made that just our thinking we have been righteous enough is the root of damnable sin. If we are all under a death sentence, what can atone for it? No one can really follow the law. (look at the "Love God with all your strength.") They killed so many animals for sacrifice it beggars the mind to comprehend the amount of blood. When Adam and Eve first knew they were naked, they tried to cover themselves with a leaf, God demanded an animal skin, thus the first substitutionary life fluids were expelled. (The Israelites were told "The life is in the blood." See how bleeding to death works, or incompatible transfusions.) We have already learned that Abraham's faith in God's provision (the LORD provided the ram instead of Isaac his son that he initially was asked to sacrifice)

The love of God found a way to take care of the judgment of God, clarified in Hebrews 2:14, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--" Unmerited favor, we can't earn it, in fact many of Paul's letters warn against even embracing one's own works. He personally experienced grace, relayed here in the first chapter of the first letter to Timothy,

…13) even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14) and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15) It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.…

So, hopefully one can understand it is pride that causes many (it is the broad way) to not accept the savior's work of grace, and to keep on with our own. He told us we have to be born again from above, that new creature we are will follow God's moral laws (remember all of the pomp and ceremonial part was fulfilled in Christ) as a matter of heart, mind, and spirit, quickened (made alive) by the Holy Spirit sent to the believers. Be cheered, because everyone has been given a measure of faith, and the mustard seed size of it, looks to an everlasting, omnipotent source that created everything, and to Whom nothing is impossible. By implosion or explosion, at the end of the book (Revelation), everything is made perfect and is in God, and those that had their robes washed clean by His blood with be part of that ending that's an eternal beginning.


*"(Unlike other natural bodies {earth and animals for instance}, humans are not determined by natural law. Instead, God has instilled in us our sense of rationality. With this reason we apprehend and participate in His eternal law if we so choose. Like the Stoics, then, Aquinas thinks that lucid reasoning is the means by which to discern universal moral truth and, by acting in accordance with it, fulfill our destinies." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002).

On justice Aquinas quipped, "Moral science is better occupied when treating of friendship than of justice." Of course 18th Century philosopher David Hume had to counter this line of thinking since faith trumped reason in most religions (including Christianity.) Even though science in reality shows the almost infinite marvels of creation from the microscopic to the macroscopic. With some physics (quantum mechanics, etc.) bordering on the supernatural.

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