Of God’s Justice
Q. 1. What is the justice of God?
A. It is that essential attribute of His nature, by which He is infinitely righteous and equal in Himself and in all His ways towards His creatures (Deut. 32:4).
Q. 2. How may the justice of God be considered?
A. Either as it relates to himself or to rational creatures.
Q. 3. What is God’s justice as it relates to Himself?
A. It is His making His own glory the fixed and invariable rule of the whole of His procedure (Isa. 42:8).
Q. 4. What is God’s justice in relation to rational creatures?
A. It is His righteous government of them according to their nature and the law He has given them (Rom. 2:12, 14, 15).
Q. 5. How is it usually distinguished?
A. Into legislative and distributive justice.
Q. 6. What is legislative justice?
A. It is His giving most holy, just, and good laws to rational creatures, commanding and forbidding them, what is fit for them to do or forbear (Isa. 33:22).
Q. 7. Has man a power to give obedience to these laws?
A. He once had power but by the fall has lost it (Rom. 3:23).
Q. 8. How does it consist with the justice of God to demand that obedience, which man has not power to give?
A. God cannot lose His right to demand obedience to His laws, though man has lost his power to give it; especially as man’s inability was contracted by his own voluntary apostasy and rebellion, Eccl. 7:29 “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.”
Q. 9. What is God’s distributive justice?
A. It is His constant will to render to rational creatures their due, according to law, without respect to persons (Job 34:11; 1Pet. 1:17).
Q. 10. What are the laws according to which God will distribute justice among men?
A. They are two, the law of works and the law of faith.
Q. 11. Where are they mentioned?
A. In Rom. 3:27 “Where is boasting, then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”
Q. 12. What is understood by the law of works and the law of faith?
A. By the law of works is understood the covenant of works and by the law of faith the covenant of grace.
Q. 13. What is due to the sinner in justice according to the law of works?
A. Death and the curse which include all woe and misery in time and through eternity (Rom. 6:23; Gal. 3:10).
Q. 14. What is the sinner’s due according to the law of faith?
A. Acquittance and acceptance on account of the surety-righteousness imputed to him and apprehended by faith (Rom. 3:24; 8:1).
Q. 15. Is God just in dealing thus with the ungodly sinner who believes in Christ?
A. Yes, His righteousness is declared in so doing, Rom. 3:25, 26 “Whom God hath set forth for a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”
Q. 16. Does God reward the sincere, though imperfect obedience of his people to the law, as a rule of life?
A. In keeping of His commandments there is indeed great reward (Psalm 19:11) but then this reward is entirely of free grace and not of debt (Rom. 4:4, 5), it is not on account of any worth in their obedience (Psalm 115:1), but only on account of what Christ has merited, by His obedience to the death (1Pet. 2:5).
Q. 17. How is this kind of justice called?
A. Remunerative or rewarding justice, Psalm 58:11 “Verily, there is a reward for the righteous.”
Q. 18. Is not God’s taking vengeance on transgressors a righteous act of justice?
A. Yes, for “every transgression and disobedience receives a just recompense of reward,” (Heb. 2:2). “It is a righteous thing to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you,” (2Thess. 1:6). Hence says the same apostle, Rom. 3:5, 6 “Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?”
Q. 19. How is this justice of God called?
A. Vindictive or punishing justice (Acts 28:4).
Q. 20. What is vindictive justice?
A. It is God’s inflicting the punishment upon sin which is threatened in the law (Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:4).
Q. 21. Could God of His own free will have pardoned sin without a satisfaction to His justice?
A. No, for He has declared, “that in forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin,” He “will by no means clear the guilty;” namely, without a satisfaction (Ex. 34:7).
Q. 22. How do you prove that vindictive or punishing justice is essential to God?
A. From the infinite holiness of God who cannot but hate and consequently punish sin (Hab. 1:12, 13), from His faithfulness in the threatening (Gen. 2:17; Psalm 95:11), from the remarkable judgments that have been inflicted on sinners in this life (Jude 5, 7), and from the sufferings and death of God’s only begotten Son whom He would surely have spared if there had been any other possible way of pardoning sin but through His satisfaction (Matt. 26:42; 2Cor. 5:21).
Q. 23. What improvement ought we to make of the justice of God, as glorified by the satisfactory death of His own Son?
A. To plead the perfect and full satisfaction of it by the Surety as the honorable channel in which we expect all mercy and grace to flow plentifully to us as the Psalmist did, Psalm 25:11 “For thy name’s sake, Oh Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.”