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by Dr. Christopher Cagan

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, August 5, 2001

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).


Scientists spent twenty-five years searching for a mysterious particle which the physicist Enrico Fermi had called a "neutrino." He chose that name because in Italian it means "little neutral one," which described what a neutrino was like – if someone could only find it. A neutrino was supposed to be among the least of all particles, and almost undetectable. Billions of neutrinos passed through our earth every day, they said, without reacting with a single atom inside the planet. In fact, a neutrino could pass through thousands of light-years of lead before it was stopped.

You might think that it wasn't very important to search for something as small and as a neutrino. But scientists all over the world spent twenty-five years furiously seeking to detect the existence of neutrinos. Why did they do this? Why did they have no peace until they finally found the missing particle?

In a nuclear reaction called beta decay, there was a tiny bit of energy that was missing. No one knew what had happened to it. No one knew where it had gone. But everyone believed that it had to go somewhere. Energy just didn't disappear! So, scientists thought there had to exist a very tiny and weak particle that carried off the energy, so elusive that it had almost no interaction with ordinary matter and could pass through endless miles of material without being found. Here was born the idea of the neutrino. And the scientific community searched without rest and without peace until they found the particle twenty-five years later.

Why doesn't energy just disappear? It's against the law. It wouldn't be right, it wouldn't balance, and it wouldn't make sense, if energy just appeared and disappeared without a reason. There's a law of fairness here.

This evening, we're going to look at how this law, this principle of fairness, works in science – and then at how this law of justice applies between you and God.

Scientists call this principle of fairness, this law of justice, "The law of the conservation of energy." It is also called, "The First Law of Thermodynamics." It says that in a closed system the total energy remains the same. Energy does not disappear or appear in the normal course of affairs. Informally, the energy principle says, "You can't get something for nothing."

The late Dr. Isaac Asimov, a famous science writer, described this principle as follows:

This law is considered the most powerful and most fundamental generalization about the universe that scientists have ever been able to make. No one knows why energy is conserved [wrote Asimov – but since he wasn't a Christian, of course he didn't know!], and no one can be completely sure it is truly conserved everywhere in the universe and under all conditions. All that anyone can say is that in over a century and a quarter of careful measurement scientists have never been able to point to a definite violation of energy conservation, either in the familiar everyday surroundings about us, or in the heavens above or in the atoms within. (Isaac Asimov, "In the Game of Energy and Thermodynamics, You Can't Even Break Even," Smithsonian, June 1970, p. 6).

Science has never found a violation of the conservation of energy, even on the tiniest scale. In accounting for energy, the books must balance. This is why scientists were compelled to search for the missing neutrino, until they found it. The books had to balance – and they did!

In simple language, the conservation of energy principle says, "You can't get something for nothing." In everyday life it has been said, "There is no such thing as a free lunch."

Many people in the inner city of Los Angeles say, "It's free." They get free food and free places to live, often better places than working people can afford. They get free medical insurance, which many working people can't afford. Many of them can call a taxi whenever they want and get a ride without paying. Can you get a taxi ride without paying? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to do that? They say, "It's free." During the riots in Los Angeles, people ran into stores and took whatever they wanted, saying, "It's free now."

But are these things really free? Do they appear out of nowhere? As people say today, "No way!" Other people who are working and producing have to give up much of their time, money and energy, to support a large government structure at federal, state, county, and city levels. The politicians who run this government structure use some of this money to pay themselves and then give the rest of it away as "free" benefits and boast to the public how compassionate "they" are and how generous "they" are to everyone. But someone else did the work. Doctors and nurses worked hard to give them medical care. Someone worked long hours and paid the tax money that went to the taxi driver. These things are not really free; they are paid for by someone else.

Just as money can pass from one person to another, so energy can change from one form to another, but the total energy remains the same. There are some kinds of energy you can see with your eyes, and some kinds you can't see – but the energy is there all the same. The energy of something moving, like a river running downwards, is called kinetic energy – and you can see this kind of energy. But you can't see the energy inside of a battery, although it's there all the time and you can get it out by plugging the battery into something. That's called potential energy. What does that mean?

When you get into a car, it isn't moving, but there is energy inside that car all the same – stored in the chemical potential energy in the gasoline in the tank, and in the electrical energy in the battery. When you start the car, the battery sends out a shot of electricity that starts the gasoline burning. Then, the chemical energy in the fuel is converted into the expansion of gas in the cylinders. The resulting mechanical energy is passed to the axles and wheels, accelerating the car. Along the way, some energy is converted to heat in the form of heating the engine (requiring a cooling system), friction with the air and road, and hot gases out through the exhaust pipe. When the car comes to a stop, the energy of motion of the car is converted to heat through friction in the brakes. In the meantime, some of the energy is converted through a generator to electrical form to recharge the battery and power electrical accessories such as the radio, whose speakers then produce mechanical energy in the form of sound waves in the air. The energy that was there at the start has moved from one form to another. But the energy had to be there in the gasoline in the first place. If there was no energy in the car, you couldn't start it or drive it. "You can't get something for nothing."

The atheist Isaac Asimov wrote that no one knows why energy is conserved. But there is a reason, namely the law and justice of God. You see, God is the Creator of the world. And when He set up the world, He set it up with a principle of fairness, of justice, because He Himself is fair, and this is His world. In a minute, we'll look at how the law of justice works between you and God, but first Mr. Griffith will come to sing for us.

(Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith sings "This Is My Father's World")


"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

The conservation of energy is the scientific expression of the fact that God is just, that He is fair. It is a picture, a shadow, an illustration of God's justice. Tonight we're going to look at three aspects of the justice of God.

1. The justice of God requires that your sin be punished.

2. The justice of God looks beyond this world and this life.

3. The justice of God can be satisfied by the payment Jesus made for you on the Cross.

I. First, the justice of God requires that your sin be punished.

God is just. God is fair. God has to treat everyone fairly, and He has to treat you fairly. God has to judge everything fairly and properly. The Bible says:

"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil"

(Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Jesus said:

"That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).

At the Last Judgment, you will stand in horror as your sins are read out of God's record books. Your sins will be read out one after another. Finally, you will get exactly what you deserve – eternal punishment in the lake of fire. The Bible says:

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works…And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:12, 15).

God has to be just. He has to be fair. Because God is just, because He is fair, He cannot simply overlook your sin. Many people think of God as a jolly good fellow who will let everyone (or almost everyone) into Heaven because He is a nice guy. They say that a God of love couldn't send anyone to Hell.

But one attribute of God (His love) cannot cancel or destroy another (His justice). All the attributes of God exist together in His nature, and operate in harmony and agreement, whether your limited human mind understands it or not. God must judge and punish every sin. Every sin must be paid for. Even a "good person" by normal standards deserves to go to Hell ten thousand times over for his sins. The Bible says,

"There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10).

God has to be fair. God has to punish sin. God has to punish you.

There is no way to break the law of justice without a payment. After all, it's the law. And there is no way that you, a sinner who has broken God's law, can escape without a payment for your sins. God's law is inescapable. Sin requires a punishment. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The punishment for the infinitely great sin of rebellion against and infinite and holy God is eternal Hell.

II. Second, the justice of God looks beyond this world and this life.

You may think, "Nothing too bad has happened to me yet. I think I'll get away with my sin." The Bible speaks of people like you:

"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

That's the way you are. You think you can do whatever you want. You think you can commit sexual sin, miss church on Sunday, and live only for yourself.

You see and trust only the immediate and physical: money, pleasure, friends, family, and all the things of this world. You count it foolish to cast aside riches, or the hope of riches, in the service of Jesus Christ. You have little or no time to serve God faithfully and regularly in a local church - for you have many other "important" things you'd rather do with your time. You see no reason not to have sex outside of marriage. This is because you have your "understanding darkened" (Ephesians 4:18) and do not see God, the Bible, or the local church as important.

But you won't get away with your sin. What you see right now is not what you'll get!

There are a lot of things you don't see. In this physical world, you don't see potential energy, but it is there all the same. You don't see the potential energy in a can of gasoline – but you'd better not put a lighted match inside, or the energy is going to burn you up whether you saw it or not. In the same way, God's judgment is going to burn you, whether you believe it or not.

We Christians do see the eternal reality of God, of Heaven and Hell. The Bible says:

"We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal"

(II Corinthians 4:18).

The Christian believes in a reality and a reward which we don't see right now with our eyes. But you don't think much about Heaven and Hell, because you cannot see them with your immediate senses. You do not understand that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). But the Christian sees the reality of God, of Heaven, of Hell, beyond this world and this life. The Bible says:

"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went...For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God"

(Hebrews 11:8,10).

Again, the Bible says:

“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).

The Christian does not live his life for selfish pleasure or for money, for he has seen the reality of God, "him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27). The Christian will, if necessary, give up his very life rather than deny the God who made him and the Saviour who paid for his sins, for the Christian values God and His rewards, not immediately perceived with the human senses, as infinitely more important than any passing pleasure or possession to be enjoyed "for a season" (Hebrews 11:25). The Christian has seen God's Heaven with his spiritual eyes, and can say with the apostle Paul,

"I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12).

The unseen reality of God and His judgments will become immediately real when you die. Jesus said, "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day" (Luke 16:19). This rich man paid attention to his clothes and his fine food – things which he could see and feel. But he had no time to get his soul right with God, for when he died, "in hell, he lift up his eyes, being in torments" (Luke 16:23). This rich man had ignored God's warning of Hell and God's promise of Paradise. He was more interested in his clothes and his food. But when he died, he was forced to physically experience the reality of Hell fire without even a drop of water, and the man cried out, "I am tormented in this flame" (Luke 16:24). The judgment of God, which the rich man had ignored on earth, was forced upon him after death. That rich man was put into Hell to be tormented there in flames, and he is still there today.

Oh, pay attention to God's eternal reality, as Abraham and Moses did! Don't be like the rich man in Luke 16. Pay attention to God, who you don't see with your physical eyes. Consider the reality of Heaven and Hell. Make it your supreme concern to enter Heaven through Jesus Christ, and to avoid the Hell of which He warned. Don't make the salvation of your soul a small or unimportant thing. Make time for God, to seek your conversion, and then to obey God after you are converted. Flee from the sinful pleasures of this world and from the wrath to come. Escape to Christ before it is too late.

III. Third, the justice of God can be satisfied by the payment
Jesus made for you on the Cross.

In this scientific universe, the law of the conservation of energy says that the record of energy must always balance. You can't live – or do anything else – without energy. And every bit of that energy must come from a definite source. None of it appears freely; all of it must be paid for.

Similarly, God's justice demands a strict reckoning and an exact payment for all of your sins. God cannot overlook sin without a sin-payment. If He did so, He would not be just; He would not be fair. The justice of God requires that you suffer for every sin of thought, word, and deed that you have ever committed, and for the infinite offense of rebellion in your heart against God and His dominion over you. If you have no sin-payment from Jesus Christ, you are bound to suffer eternally in Hell.

Is there any way out? You, in yourself, can't escape from the judgment of God for your sins. You've got a long list of sins on your record, in God's books. God has to punish you for your sins. You're in trouble. You're like a man who owes millions and billions of dollars and can't pay – you're bankrupt – you're in trouble! You're like a criminal running away from the police with a long record of crimes against you – you're in trouble! You need to be rescued by someone outside. In other words, you need to be saved!

That's why God sent His Son, Jesus, from outside, from Heaven, in His love and grace. That's why Jesus came to die on the Cross. Jesus said:

"For even the Son of man (Jesus) came…to give his life a ransom (a rescue payment) for many" (Mark 10:45).

Again, the Bible says,

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10).

The first part of this verse shows that God loved us, even when we didn't love Him. The second part of the verse shows that God's love comes without denying His justice, for God provided a propitiatory sacrifice, paying for sin and appeasing the righteous demands of His own law for punishment of sin, through pouring out death and punishment upon Jesus Christ on the Cross.

How does God's love operate? God does not simply say, "I love everyone, so everyone can come into Heaven no matter what they have done." No attribute, no characteristic of God, exists in contradiction to all the others. Rather, there is one God who has a nature; all of God's attributes exist together. The love of God does not operate without reference to His justice.

The Bible describes how the love of God could come to sinners like you and me:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus, the Son) should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

God in His love could not ignore or deny His own justice. The only way that a loving and just God could let any sinner into Heaven is to have the person's sins paid for, atoned for, through the sacrifice made by Jesus, the sinless Son of God and Son of Man. The Bible says:

"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:24-26).

Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, can God be both "just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26). Praise God for His justice – and for His love! Both are present in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Thank God that He did graciously provide a payment for your sin through the Blood sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus Christ, on the Cross. Either suffer eternally as God punishes you for your sins – or come to Jesus and have your sins cancelled by His Blood sacrifice. Which will it be?


Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "This Is My Father's World"

(by Maltbie D. Babcock, 1858-1901)

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."



by Dr. Christopher Cagan

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

I.   The justice of God requires that your sin be punished,
Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36; Revelation 20:12,15;
Romans 3:10.

II.  The justice of God looks beyond this world and this life,
Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ephesians 4:18; II Corinthians 4:18;
Hebrews 11:1,8,10,24-27; II Timothy 1:12;
Luke 16:19,23,24.

III. The justice of God can be satisfied by the payment Jesus made
for you on the Cross, Mark 10:45; I John 4:10;
John 3:16; Romans 3:24-26.