This is a response to a question I received concerning God’s justice. The inquirer referenced a diagram by RC Sproul in his book “Chosen by God” in which Sproul argues that the Mercy is “non-justice” and God’s condemnation on the unrepentant is “justice.” I had argued quite differently at our Tulip Class last Wednesday (see “Unconditional Election” lecture on our app/website/YouTube).
Hey, I appreciate the question, bro. Obviously I have a lot of respect for Sproul as a theologian and just recently read through, once more, Chosen by God. I smiled throughout this section you are referencing believing that RC and I would agree in conceptual theory and were only in disagreement over the definition of justice. Clearly, according to the diagram in the book, Sproul takes justice to equal fairness. I do not. I define justice as ultimate rightness. When we declare in song or word that Jesus will “bring justice” to earth at His return, what we are declaring – I believe – is that He will restore supreme order and ultimate rightness.
We all hopefully believe that all God does is right and (with Paul in Romans 9) agree that there is no injustice with the Lord. When the Lord brings down judgement upon the unrepentant He is bestowing upon them their wage or payment (fairness) for cosmic treason. In this He is fair and He is just – but His justice does not end with fairness.
When the Lord bestows sovereign mercy upon His people He is also completely just. I would here strongly disagree with Sproul’s concept of “non-justice;” there is no such reality with God. He is never unjust and neither is He absent of justice. He is the ultimate authority and as such, He is also right. Now, how can His mercy – according to His law – be justice? The answer of course is where we will arrive in our Tulip study this week: the cross. On the cross, Christ absorbed Divine wrath and satisfied cosmic justice for His people. God now justly declares His people judicially pure because of the redemption of His Son.
So I conclude, that for the elect and reprobate God is always just: just in unleashing fairness on the unrepentant and just in applying Christ’s righteousness and granting amnesty by faith to His people.