When We Assume | Retributive Theology
If your children have sinned against him,
he has delivered them into the hand of their transgression. — Job 8:4
So now we move to the counsel of Job's next friend. His name is Bildad. And after reading this verse, I bet you wonder if Bildad is really a friend.
Here are three things we notice about Bildad and his position. First, he will build on the opinion Eliphaz supports, which is that "righteous people don't suffer." Second, he is far less sympathetic to Job than Eliphaz. Third, he's way more direct in how he states things. Bildad's point of view is that God punished his children for their sin and is now punishing Job for his sin. And that Job needs to repent so that God will save him and restore his previous blessing.
His conclusion is, of course, wrong.
The theological name given to this position is Retribution Theology. It's the belief that one gets what one deserves. Think of it like Christian karma. It presumes a connection between good people and good things and bad people and bad things. Thus, this type of theology concludes that God rewards good people with good things and punishes bad people with bad things in this life. For example, if you get Covid, in this life, it’s an indication that God is punishing you for something bad you’ve done. On the other hand, if you become wealthy in this life, it’s an indication that God is blessing you for the good things you have done.
But there are all kinds of problems with applying this understanding of retributive theology and justice to the good and bad things that happen to us in this life. One problem is this — it's that bad things happen to good people. This is the lesson of Job's life. This was also the lesson of Christ's life. And sometimes this is the lesson of our life. Sometimes bad things happen to all people.
In fact, at the end of this life, there will be retributive justice, and it comes with some very bad news. It's found in Roman 3:23, which reads, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." In other words, at the end of this life, we will all pay retribution for our sin because we are all sinful and fall short. The very wrong assumption of retributive theology is that we can be good enough to earn or deserve a blessing from God in this life and thus at the end of this life. This is just not possible. The only thing we deserve or earn is punishment for our sin. Even Job is not going to be able to earn his way back to a blessing from God.
But here is the good news. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin, buying us back from the retribution we deserve at the end of this life. Because eventually, at the end of this life, there will be retribution for wrongdoing. God will both punish sin and reward righteousness. But his retribution for sin was paid for in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the end, we are all sinners who need redemption by God, who was willing to pay our retribution for sin so we can spend eternity with him. Now that's good news.
Today God will redeem you from the retribution you deserve. The bible says, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9). If you want to make that confession for the first time, let me know, and I will pray with you and for you.
ASK THIS: Do you need to be bought back from your sin?
DO THIS: Share how I can pray for you below. (Share in the comments below).
PRAY THIS: God, I need you to forgive me and buy me back.
PLAY THIS: Redeemed.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.