The Law of God and Public Policy: Justice (7)
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3.21-26
Justice and redemption
As God is just, it is His nature to pursue justice and to desire it for His creatures. We have been arguing that the Law of God reveals the justice of God in at least five ways. At the same time, we have insisted that keeping the Law does not justify or save anyone. The best that sinful people can realize from public policies based on the Law of God is a measure of peace, safety, decency, and abundance that characterizes a good society.
But God is not content with this. He wants people to be saved, and standing in the way of our being saved is out inability to satisfy the demands of God’s justice. Indeed, as can be readily observed in myriad ways, sinful people, rather than embrace justice will distort, ignore, flout, or deny it if it suits their ends to do so. We may—and should—work to realize public policies that match up with the character of God, as revealed in His Law and all His Word. But such policies are no guarantee that we will achieve some form of utopia. There will always be people—and we will frequently find ourselves among them—who prefer their own views, ideas, and goals to those of the Lord.
For true justice to be realized, God must act. He is just, as Paul explained. But He is also the Justifier of all who have faith in Jesus. All who believe in Jesus Christ are declared righteous—just: the word is the same in Greek—in Him. Declared, but not actually. All who are declared to be justified—the result of redemption and faith—begin a life of increasing righteousness and justice. All who are thus justified will, in an infinite debt of gratitude and out of a heart overflowing with love, work out their salvation for increasing justice and righteousness (Phil. 2.13; 2 Cor. 3.12-18).
Thus, while God has established the Law as our moral compass (Rom. 3.31; 7.12), we understand that the Law can do only so much to bring justice to the world. For justice to flourish, people must be justified; and only God can justify them. He does this through the Gospel, as we bear witness to the work of Jesus in fulfilling all righteousness so that we might be made righteous and just in Him (2 Cor. 5.21).
And it is with this in mind that we take up the calling of justice as part of our Kingdom lifestyle.
Micah 4.1-8 is a passage of such great importance that it was also preached by his contemporary, Isaiah (cf. Is. 2.1-4). To encourage us in the practice and pursuit of justice, let’s take a closer look.
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days… That is, the days, according to Peter, in which the Spirit has been poured out, the Gospel is going forward, and the Kingdom is coming on earth as it is in heaven (cf. Acts 2.14-17).
That the mountain of the LORD’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills…
The “LORD’s house”—which we are—will be highly exalted, visible, influential, admired, and even feared (cf. Ps. 48.1-7) in the last days.
And peoples shall flow to it.
Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
People from every nation and tribe will be drawn to the LORD’s house, like an unending flow uphill—contrary to natural expectations—with an eager desire to learn the ways of God so that they might “walk in His paths.”
This is an extraordinary vision, but it matches many of the other visions of the coming of God’s Kingdom which we find in the Old and New Testaments. Think only of the parables of Jesus: of the mustard seed, the wheat and the tares, the leaven in the loaf, and more. What Micah and Isaiah foresaw has happened before in human history, in periods when churches were a place to which people flocked as unto a Good Shepherd. There is no reason to think it cannot happen again.
But why does this happen? How can it be so?
For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
The Law of God, lived out by the people of God and accompanied by the proclamation of Good News in Jesus Christ, becomes the catalyzing agent for many people to find their way to the Lord and His redemption. When God’s people are faithful in living according to God’s Law, proclaiming justification in Jesus Christ, and working to bring the righteousness, holiness, and goodness of God’s Law to their communities, people will see, and people will respond.
For a good society
We do not expect our obedience to the Law and our working for public policies based on that Law to bring salvation to our world. But we do expect our good works to be so consistently seen, and ourselves to be so persuasive in working for good public policies, that people will know the grace of God as the Law works its way, like leaven, into the loaf of the public square (Ps. 66.1-3; 81.15)—that is, as we who are justified and understand the nature of justice, by our holy and righteous and good lives and our patient persuasion, work to bring the goodness of God to light in the land of the living through policies and practices based on the Law of God (Ps. 27.13, 14).
We can have a good society without everyone being saved. But we cannot have a good society unless those who are saved go forth with the Word of God, living and speaking it into every aspect of life.
1. How is the Gospel related to justice?
2. Righteousness and justice are the same word in Paul’s mind. What are the implications of this for your walk with and work for the Lord?
3. Keeping the Law will save no one. But living in a society based on principles from God’s Law can provide fertile soil for the Gospel to save many. Why is this so?
Next steps—Preparation: To what extent does your vision of the Christian life match up with Micah’s? How might you enlarge your vision to be more like his?
T. M. Moore
What is the place of the Law of God in the Christian’s life? Our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, answers this question and shows us again why Jesus taught us that keeping the Law is an indispensable part of our calling in God’s Kingdom. Order your free copy of The Ground for Christian Ethics by clicking here. To gain a better understanding of how the Law of God applies in daily life, order a free copy of our book, A Kingdom Catechism, by clicking here.
Support for ReVision comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.
And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.
Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.