PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE: GOD SEEMS UNFAIR TO OTHERS
People usually don’t have trouble acknowledging God’s power, but they often have trouble accepting his justice. Common hang-ups about his justice are summarized in the following five objections:
OBJECTION 1 – God brings us into this world as frail beings with a sinful nature, a condition beyond our control, and then he blames us for not being perfect, and condemns us to hell for it. That’s not fair!
OBJECTION 2 – God offers salvation through Jesus Christ, but most people throughout the world and throughout history have been denied adequate information about him, and presumably they’ll go to hell for rejecting someone they haven’t heard about. That’s not fair!
OBJECTION 3 – God allows bad things to happen to good people and good things to happen to bad people. That’s not fair!
OBJECTION 4 – Someone can live a vile life but at the last minute before death accept Jesus Christ as savior and then have the same eternal benefits as others who have led good lives the whole time. That’s not fair!
OBJECTION 5 – If salvation is a free gift and there’s nothing we can do to earn or enhance it, God has humiliated us and reduced us to helpless beggars. That’s not fair!
In the minds of many people, these objections prove that God is unfair in his dealings with us, and this perception makes it very difficult for them to respond to his offer.
However, these objections are only hypothetical arguments because we don’t know how God is dealing with every individual. For all we know, he may be dealing fairly with everyone on a personal basis just as he’s dealing fairly with you (see below).
IMPERSONAL PERSPECTIVE: GOD IS FAIR TO YOU
The objections in the left column are valid ones, and they need answers. But answers make sense only when we understand that God is a personal God:
God has power and purposes beyond our comprehension, and therefore there are many things we’ll never understand. However, God is not a force or principle, but rather a divine person, with mind, will and emotion (see Topic 39). Everyone is made in his image (see Topic 7), and everyone is connected to him by a relationship, or disconnected for lack of one. A person doesn’t know about everyone else’s relationship with God, but he does know about his own, and to him that’s all that matters.
Therefore, because we lack facts and mental capacity, the real question is not Is God fair? but rather Is God fair to YOU?
Here’s how the objections look when you move from an impersonal perspective to a personal perspective:
With regard to OBJECTION 1, it’s true that you were born with a sin nature and destined for hell (see Topic 60), but there’s nothing unfair about it for YOU because others are in the same condition and because YOU can easily, instantly and freely accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and thus be pardoned from all YOUR sin. Never mind what God may do for others, or how he may do it, this is what he will do for YOU!
With regard to OBJECTION 2, the concern about people who have been denied information doesn’t pertain to YOU because YOU have essential information about Jesus Christ. In ways you may not understand, God will deal fairly with people who haven’t had an opportunity to hear about Jesus.
With regard to OBJECTION 3, is it not fair that God gives YOU (and everyone) free will? When we live in community and everyone has free will, is it not inevitable that we will often get hurt? The things that happen in this earthly life are temporary and random, in a sin-scarred world (see Topics 47-49). That’s why God offers YOU a savior and heaven.
With regard to OBJECTION 4, God’s justice is based more on love than on fairness, and thus his justice is more than fair (see Topic 51, where Jesus explains this principle in his own words). Regardless of the way God may express his love to others, he’s fair in his offer to YOU.
With regard to OBJECTION 5, YOU are a helpless beggar before Almighty God. That’s hard on the ego, but it’s the key point. Is it not fair for the creator to expect you to acknowledge him for his supreme majesty and holiness? Stubborn self- pride can be the deal-breaker for YOU and send YOU to hell. God is fair because he offers to adopt YOU into his own family, but it’s YOUR choice.
UNFAIRNESS ISSUES ARE USUALLY SMOKE SCREENS
People who have adequate knowledge of Jesus Christ but don’t accept him as personal savior because they say they’re hung up on fairness issues are usually just putting up smoke screens for their real reasons, such as: (1) too much pride to submit to God, (2) too busy pursuing personal ambitions, or (3) unwillingness to let God make life-style changes. The smoke screens may fool other people, but they don’t fool God.
WEʼRE ACCOUNTABLE FOR ACTING ON WHAT WE KNOW
Some people are privileged at this point in time to know more about God than others. God is just, and he takes this into account. ‘Progressive revelation’ is his method (see Topic 27).
God doesn’t ask us to accept him (Jesus Christ) as a world, as a nation, as a church or as a family, but as an INDIVIDUAL when we receive knowledge of his offer. It’s a personal thing.
It doesn’t matter what other people know or don’t know. What’s important is what we know and how we respond to our own personal knowledge.
Even if a person – like someone scanning this handbook – doesn’t have much information about the Bible and God’s offer, he’s at least been put on notice that an offer exists and should be investigated. God will hold him responsible for taking the next reasonable step in acting on the spiritual information he’s received so far.
WE MUST NOT JUDGE OTHER PEOPLEʼS SPIRITUALITY
In the Bible, God says that we must not judge other people with respect to the amount or quality of spiritual information they have received or with respect to what they are doing with that information. God alone is the judge, and it’s a personal matter.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself.
– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Chapter 5
Hereʼs a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.
I Corinthians 4:5
Leave the judging to God, who will bring to light everything thatʼs now hidden from us
Each of us will have to give a personal account to God for what we do with what we know; stop passing judgment about others
Everyone calling upon God in faith can be saved from hell
For help, see Topic 29.