QUOTE TO PONDER: “People of Israel, if you want to enjoy a long and successful life, make sure that everyone is treated with justice in the land the Lord is giving you.” Deut. 16:20 (and see Jer. 12:14-17 where God says that nations that don’t follow the principles of Israel will collapse/be destroyed)
What does God think about social justice? There are at least ~2000+ verses in the Bible that deal with different aspects of social justice & Ellen White also writes about it extensively. Here are 10 introductory biblical principles.
- SOCIAL JUSTICE IS A TRAIT OF GODLINESS & LOVE: Working for Biblical social justice shows that we have genuine godly love for people in distress, a trait which reflects God’s sacrifice and love for us and is a major essence of Christianity.
**”Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27
**”The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.” Prov. 29:7
- GOD ADVOCATES EQUALITY: We are to imitate God and He advocates equality.
**“Native-born Israelites and foreigners are equal before the Lord…” Numbers 15:15,
**“…you are equal as brothers and sisters.” Matt. 23:8
- GOD HATES DOUBLE STANDARDS: God opposes all forms of unfairness. “Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.” Leviticus 19:15 “…the Lord detests double standards of every kind.” Proverbs 20:10
- INDIVIDUALS HAVE JUSTICE RESPONSIBILITIES/PRIVILEGES: Every individual is responsible to look around them and take care of those that are suffering just as the Good Samaritan did. Matthew 25:31-45 tells us that the difference between the sheep and the goats is largely based on how they treat the oppressed. Ellen White writes,
**“Each neglect of the needy poor, the homeless, the fatherless, the prisoner, is neglect of Jesus.” (A Call to Stand Apart, p. 93).
- GOVERNMENTS HAVE JUSTICE DUTIES: Some aspects of justice can only be dealt with at government levels. Godly people sometimes must protest harmful government policies in both believing governments and non-believing governments.
**“King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.” Daniel 4:27 (NLT)
**“Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.” Ezekiel 16:49 (NLT) (see also Nehemiah 5, Psalms 72, Jonah 1-4).
- CORRUPT CHURCHES IGNORE SOCIAL JUSTICE & PRODUCE ENEMIES: Sadly, churches have at times been corrupt and disobedient or far worse even assisted in causing oppression. At those times, God allowed enemies to come and harass believers (and others) & cause humiliation. This is happening now too.
** “I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:21-24
**”The people of Israel have rejected what is good, and now their enemies will chase after them…Even though I gave them all my laws, they act as if those laws don’t apply to them. ” Hosea 8:3,11
**’Had Israel been true to God, He could have accomplished His purpose through their honor and exaltation. If they had walked in the ways of obedience, He would have made them “high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.” But because of their unfaithfulness, God’s purpose could be wrought out only through continued adversity and humiliation.” Desire of Ages, p. 28
- SABBATH IS GROUNDED IN SOCIAL JUSTICE: God has called us to take action against injustice repeatedly. The Sabbath itself was designed to help people remember God’s action of social justice against the government of Egypt in freeing the slaves. Opposing injustice is a crucial aspect of Christianity and some of it can be done on the Sabbath as an act of worship. Jesus himself demonstrated this by repeatedly healing people on Sabbath to show the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, when he could have delayed the healing to another day if He had thought it wrong.
**“Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:15
**See also the context of Sabbath observance principles in Isaiah 58:6-14 which is explicitly social justice.
- BRINGS LIFE TO CHURCHES: When the church does not address practical issues in life and society, it loses its ‘saltiness’. A large number have left church because it failed to be a voice of hope and solutions in the face of injustices or disasters. This is disastrous for freedom, since the church is the greatest bulwark against oppression in all history.
**“I have been instructed to refer our people to the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Read this chapter carefully and understand the kind of ministry that will bring life into the churches…When you meet suffering souls who need help, give it to them. When you find those who are hungry, feed them. In doing this you will be working in lines of Christ’s ..All our praying and abstinence from food will avail nothing unless we resolutely lay hold of this work.”
- EVERY ACT OF LOVE IS REWARDED IN HEAVEN: The Bible tells us that every good act is rewarded in heaven. This is separate from salvation, but will be beyond our imagination.
**“If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet…if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” 10:41-42
**“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Cor. 2:9
- CONFIDENCE IN SALVATION: One of the common traits of those who are greedy and selfish is that they don’t have confidence that they can be saved. Since they think they have only a short time to live and are going to be lost anyway, they think that cheating and exploiting others isn’t a big problem and won’t make a long term difference. They might as well get all they can in any way they can now. This thinking that we can’t be saved is a virulent deception of Satan that spells disastrous for nations though and has caused most of the exploitation, crime, and wars throughout history. The documentary “China Confession” demonstrates this very explicitly in the history of China:
But everyone can be sure of salvation. The apostle John said, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13.
What had he written?
“…Everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:2-3 (see also Rom. 13:8-10).
Another verse says, “Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good…always do good to each person and to all people.” 1 Thess. 5:21,15.
If people do that, having a passion of love for God and for each person on earth, if they confess sins as they recognize them and ask for God’s help to overcome them, they can be sure of salvation. But biblical love was never just a feeling. It took action. We should for sure make sure to take care of our family needs and comforts first (1 Tim. 5:8). But don’t go into the area of greed, pride in luxury, etc. After your family is taken care of, look to see how you can help others become independent, NOT dependent on you or others. John said, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister[a] in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” 1 John 3:17 (NLT)
Ellen White wrote:
“Eternal life is the reward that will be given to all who obey the two great principles of God’s law,—love to God and love to man. The first four commandments define and enjoin love to God; the last six, love to our fellow men. Obedience to these commands is the only evidence man can give that he possesses a genuine, saving knowledge of God. Love for God is demonstrated by love for those for whom Christ has died….THE YOUTH’S INSTRUCTOR March 22, 1900
Ellen White also agrees that genuine love for God and others is the character trait that we need for heaven.
**“In the story of the good Samaritan, Christ illustrates the nature of true religion. He shows that it consists not in systems, creeds, or rites, but in the performance of loving deeds, in bringing the greatest good to others, in genuine goodness. ..Supreme love to God and impartial love to man are the principles to be wrought out in the life…Unless there is practical self-sacrifice for the good of others, in the family circle, in the neighborhood, in the church, and wherever we may be, then whatever our profession, we are not Christians.” Desire of Ages p. 497-8, 504.**
She gave a few other secrets of overcoming and being saved:
“You cannot be overcome of the enemy unless you press positive resistance against God’s will…The curse of the law is not upon those who are striving to fulfill God’s holy precepts through faith in the Redeemer. They are covered with his righteousness. They are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Ellen White, ST September 30, 1889, par. 7
“The great crisis is just before us. To meet its trails and temptations, and to perform its duties, will require persevering faith. But we may triumph gloriously; not one watching, praying, believing soul will be ensnared by the enemy.” Maranatha 96
Ellen White explains this process more and how we must not listen to our feelings in regard to salvation:
“it is by the word of God that we may obtain evidence of our standing before God. We are not to make our feelings a test by which to discern whether we are in or out of favor with God, whether they be what we consider encouraging or not. As soon as one begins to contemplate his feelings, he is on dangerous ground… It is not wisdom to look at the emotions, and try to test your spirituality by your feelings. Do not study yourself; look away from self to Jesus. While you acknowledge yourself as a sinner, yet you may appropriate Christ as your sin-pardoning Redeemer. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance…
There is a warfare in which every soul must engage who would have the crown of life. Inch by inch the overcomer must fight the good fight of faith, using the weapons of God’s word. He must meet the foe with, “It is written.” He must keep the armory well supplied with, “It is written.” In this way he must meet the advances of the enemy, and educate and train the soul for the still more severe attacks of the foe. Truth, the word of God, faith and righteousness, and the hope of salvation, must be the armor of the successful warrior, and his eyes must be anointed to be keen and sensitive to detect the devices of the enemy. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” …
When the enemy begins to draw away the mind from Jesus, to shut away His mercy, His love, His all-sufficiency, do not devote precious time to the consideration of your feelings, but flee to the word. In the Scriptures Christ is presented as the One by whom God made the worlds. He is the light of the world, and, as the seeker for light studies the word, he finds heavenly illumination. Christ, the all-absorbing theme, is revealed to his soul, and he sees the requirements of God to be of a Christlike character. He studies the conditions on which redemption may be his, sees the divinity of his Saviour, the value of His atonement, the efficacy of the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost; and Christ becomes all and in all to his soul. He sees in the Scriptures that which the casual reader does not see, a significance and value beyond computation. He comes with a teachable spirit to the word, and is instructed by both the Old and New Testaments….
What do we hope to accomplish by longing to have the whole world converted to Jesus, by believing in His pardoning love, when we do not ourselves believe in His love or find rest in His grace? How can we possibly lead others to a full assurance, to simple, childlike faith in our heavenly Father, when we are measuring and judging our love to Him by our feelings? We cannot be lifted up in thought, or know what it is to be the sons and daughters of God, unless we trust implicitly to the word of God, for Satan will ever be on the ground to dispute our claims. We must educate the soul to trust in God’s word with unwavering confidence. Let gratitude and thankfulness flow out of the heart, and cease to hurt the heart of Christ by doubting His love, which has been assured to us by most astounding evidences; for He so loved us as to give His own life for us, that we should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(see also: https://www.adventistworld.org/assurance-of-salvation/ and
Ellen White writes very eloquently about the full implications of the golden rule in ways that relate directly to missions. She says that as modern churches follow the practices of the church in Acts, we will see the same result that they did.
“The golden rule’s…truest illustration is seen in the life and character of Jesus…The influence of grace is to soften the heart, to refine and purify the feelings, giving a heaven-born delicacy and sense of propriety.
But there is a yet deeper significance to the golden rule. Everyone who has been made a steward of the manifold grace of God is called upon to impart to souls in ignorance and darkness, even as, were he in their place, he would desire them to impart to him. The apostle Paul said, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” Romans 1:14. By all that you have known of the love of God, by all that you have received of the rich gifts of His grace above the most benighted and degraded soul upon the earth are you in debt to that soul to impart these gifts unto him.
So also with the gifts and blessings of this life: whatever you may possess above your fellows places you in debt, to that degree, to all who are less favored. Have we wealth, or even the comforts of life, then we are under the most solemn obligation to care for the suffering sick, the widow, and the fatherless exactly as we would desire them to care for us were our condition and theirs to be reversed.
The golden rule teaches, by implication, the same truth which is taught elsewhere in the Sermon on the Mount, that “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” That which we do to others, whether it be good or evil, will surely react upon ourselves, in blessing or in cursing. Whatever we give, we shall receive again.
The earthly blessings which we impart to others may be, and often are, repaid in kind. What we give does, in time of need, often come back to us in fourfold measure in the coin of the realm. But, besides this, all gifts are repaid, even in this life, in the fuller inflowing of His love, which is the sum of all heaven’s glory and its treasure…
The standard of the golden rule is the true standard of Christianity; anything short of it is a deception.
Of the apostolic church, in those bright days when the glory of the risen Christ shone upon them, it is written that no man said “that aught of the things which he possessed was his own.” “Neither was there any among them that lacked.” “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 4:32, 34, 33; 2:46, 47.
Search heaven and earth, and there is no truth revealed more powerful than that which is made manifest in works of mercy to those who need our sympathy and aid. This is the truth as it is in Jesus. When those who profess the name of Christ shall practice the principles of the golden rule, the same power will attend the gospel as in apostolic times.” Ellen White, Mount of Blessing, p. 138-9.