The Expository Files

Is God Fair?

Acts 10:34-35

I recently had a discussion with a woman over the phone who used the text for a prop to brace a contemporary belief among many religious people. Many good folks believe that since God is not a respecter of people, that he can not look out into the sea of denominations and pick the one he thinks is best. If people are illustrating lives of reverence for God and good, moral lives, then he simply must accept all of the religious beliefs because he is "no respecter of persons". I thought this was a clever approach, but the unrelenting truth is that no person has ever been accepted in favor with God separate and apart from obedience to the word which he revealed and has commanded man to obey. Cornelius is a perfect example of a person who reverenced God and lived a good, moral life, yet was not saved or accepted into God's favor until he met the conditions of salvation. Erwin Lutzer, in his new book, "Ten Lies About God", mentions that a common thread among religious people today is that if God does not have some special arrangement for non-believers or non-Christians, then he is less loving than humans.

Therefore, if you extend this logic it would only demand that humans have transcended their Creator in character. However, upon this logic, it would demand that since God allows earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, and such like to be a part of natural law coupled with the fact that people die by the masses in such tragedies, that he is just as unloving. And if this is true, then he has always been less loving than humans because natural disasters have been occurring since the beginning of time. Remember the flood in Genesis? Does the modern logic of men imply that God created man with a superior character since natural disasters have been occurring since the beginning? Dear reader, if there is any common thread at all it leads directly to the spool of humanism! Those who are born into an existence of living in poverty will be justified in complaining of unfairness as long as God is considered to be unfair in some way. And if fairness (man's wisdom), is a criterion for man's direction, then when man arrives at judgment he can reply to God, "My environment was not fair, I did not get a fair shake in life". He may claim that he was abused or born into a penurious home life and never had a fair chance to prove what he could really be. In Matthew 7:21-22 we see an illustration of a judgment scene where people are pleading their cases before the judge. In this example, the pleading and indicting by these people could not sway the mind and justice of the Lord. When men look at this passage and claim the unfair nature of this scene, they are failing to see the irrelevance of whether it is fair in the wisdom of men or not. Call upon your memory of Isaiah 55:8-9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts". We have never been granted the liberty to become more broad minded in our thinking than our Creator is!

Men have for centuries tried every unorthodox method to reach God from the tower of Babel to assembling to babble! I watched with amazement on the television program 20/20, charismatic people who were drinking strychnine, handling snakes and other strange practices in order to create a proper fellowship with the Lord. I wonder if Paul had the same amazement when he entered the city of Athens and viewed the scores of figures representing the concepts of men and even to the point of erecting an image for the primary purpose of reaching a being that transcended all other gods (Acts 17). It is argued in many circles that religion is simply different perspectives of the same reality. In denominationalism, I have no doubt this is true. However, the Lord's church is not a part of man's devise or innovation. It is not part of the big picture, it is the picture! And standing alone amid the sea of religious beliefs, it is ambiguous to many because of their determination to rely on their gods whom they deem fair. Paul told the Athenians that God is not far from us (Acts 17:27). Yet the more we depend upon our own wisdom, the farther we wander away from Him, the true and living God.

How will God deal with the present religious world? I am convinced that he will handle all things in judgment. Man's flawed attempts to reach God and seek his approval will be made manifest in the day of sentencing. The record bears this out in such passages as 2Corinthians 5:10 and 2Thessalonians 1:7-8. The bottom line to all of this, is that fairness is not decided by man. The characters in Ezekiel 18 were reminded of this. God is truth and all that are in conflict with him and his divine revelation are in danger of eternal punishment. All of the arguments and complaining of men will not change the absolute precepts of the Holy One. And if God sends people to hell, it will be because people have prepared to go there, not because he is unfair.

By Tony Ripley
From Expository Files 7.8; August 2000