Justice and fairness.
I read Psalm 98 this morning. Another great set of verses that encourage us to praise God because he is so worthy of being praised. There is nothing about God that is not absolutely glorious and worth praising. He is omnipotent and yet full of compassion, mercy and grace. He is omniscient, knows us all and knows all about us and yet loves us. God created and owns everything and yet is generous with it all.
If we doubt his love for us we can read John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 -NIV
God loves us enough to sacrifice his only son.
At the end of Psalm 98 there is a spot that caught my eye. Something about judgement.
“let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.”
Psalm 98:9 – NIV
Knowing I am going to be judged doesn’t usually make me want to sing, well maybe sing the blues…”nobody knows, the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows, my sorrow…”
But God’s judgement is about justice and fairness. We don’t have to fear.
Sometimes we equate judgement with condemnation. A judge can condemn a person but Jesus didn’t come to condemn us. There is proof of that in John 3:17-18
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:17-18 -NIV
From these verses it looks like we are responsible for our own condemnation by choosing not to believe in Jesus and what his death on the cross has accomplished, forgiveness of sin.
In Matthew 25 Jesus tells us a story about a judgement coming where God will divide all of humanity into two groups.
“31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Matthew 25:31-40 -NIV
Those who believe in Jesus and have trusted him as their savior can now live without fear of judgement or condemnation. Let me rephrase that. We will be judged; we will not be condemned. And our judgement will happen from the safety of the sheep pen.
Paul said this in his letter to the Romans:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Romans 8:1-4 -NIV
We have the righteous requirement of the law that should condemn us to death, met in us, through the perfection of Jesus. His perfection covers our imperfections like a cloak or a blanket or a robe. We are robed in his righteousness.
Back to a Psalm 98. Here are the last two verses this time from the new living translation.
“Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.”
Psalm 98:8-9 -NLT
It isn’t the greatest of news, like waking up during our days at school on Monday knowing we have a test coming. But that is actually the good part. We know ahead of time. There is judgement coming, we know it’s coming and we have a friend in the courtroom, Jesus.
I believe the test only has one question and because we read these verses this morning, we know the answer. Here is the question: God just asks one thing, “Why should I let you enter my heaven?”
What is the answer, I’ll give you a hint. It starts with J.