In an article in By Faith Online (Feb, 2021) Megan Fowler writes, “Moses Lee believes Gen Z isn’t asking philosophical questions about epistemology [the theory of knowing]. Gen Z wants to know that the gospel is beautiful and true, and that it is deeply concerned about justice.”
Gen Z needs to know that the gospel is about justice but not the sort about which they may be thinking. It is about God’s justice toward sinners, which justice was poured out upon God the Son incarnate, Jesus of Nazareth, at Golgotha. It was that outpouring that caused our Lord to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46) Paul says that either we are covered by Jesus’ justice (iustitia, righteousness) for us or we shall stand before God on our own:
For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus (Rom 2:12–16; ESV).
Paul says that God’s law knows nothing about doing one’s best. He says that if you intend to stand before God on the basis of your performance, get cracking. God demands perfection (Gal 3:10; Deut 27:26). Of course you must fail. Only Christ’s obedience is that perfection. It is imputed/credited/reckoned to all who believe and only to them and only through faith (Rom 5:12–21). He is the Last Adam (1 Cor 15:45). There is no righteousness before God apart from Christ’s righteousness (i.e., his justice) for us.
When we make the gospel about social justice we turn the good news into bad news. The genuine good news declares that God has been gracious toward us sinners. As a consequence of his grace toward us we are free to seek relative civil righteousness (among other goods) in this world but let us not drag the gospel into it. Civil righteousness is a matter of mercy and God’s moral and natural law and that is enough. (HT: Christopher Drew)