Dr Martin Johnson. Former Royal Air Force pilot, retired Charity CEO. Director, The Thalidomide Trust 2000-2014. Degrees: Divinity (BD Hons), Management (PhD), and Behavioural Science (MSc). This review was posted February, 19, 2021 on Amazon.
Ron Smith has set out some ways of showing how we, living in a fallen world, can relate to and comprehend the Holy and Almighty God who offers us salvation in the person of Jesus. He tackles the problem of evil in the world by explaining the nature of God’s love for us, and the freedom we have to turn away, as this love means God would never enslave us (and thereby prevent us from doing wrong). He tackles some complex matters, such as the nature of time (dealing with how God’s foreknowledge is not incompatible with our linear experience of time). He discusses heaven and hell, and the nature of the Trinity in understandable terms, and throughout supplies explanations from scripture and great writers such as C S Lewis.
Not until you get to the end of the book, however, do you learn the driving force which has propelled Ron through this deep and comprehensive learning. This is that his first child, Laura, was born with severe birth defects caused by the prescription medication Accutane. Ron and his wife then cared for Laura for the rest of her life until she died in 2012. I worked for many years with people born damaged by the drug Thalidomide, and witnessed at first hand the lifetime struggle of many parents whose child was born with brain damage as well as the more familiar limb defects, so know just how hard it can be for families in this situation. So Ron’s devotion to God and understanding of His great love has been forged on one of the toughest anvils this world can supply.
If you are wondering about such things as “how can there be evil in the world if God is love,” or “why are bad things happening to me if I’m a Christian,” then this is the book for you. Written by someone who’s “been there, done that, got the T-shirt.”
Foreword by Thomas W. Langford, Sr., Retired Pastor, AA, BA, Mdiv, September 28, 2020
To grasp and experience God’s justice and mercy and understand what is between the two, one first must accept the fact that God is sovereign.
Ronnie Smith explores the benevolent aspects of God’s sovereign mercy and grace. He believes God’s love does not demand something in return from his creation. He allows his creation to decide to respond to his love—and return love, trust, and obedience. This begs the question: can a rejected sovereign really continue to bestow mercy, grace love on those who reject him? Smith’s answer to the question is yes, but often the justice, mercy and love do not come in the form we desire or expect.
Smith briefly works through an accepted truth: there are certain codes for behavior (rules, laws, etc.) which everyone is expected and required to adhere. Governments, kings, and sovereigns all have them.Violation of those codes of behavior requires justice. Justice—a penalty or price to make or erase the violation as if it had not happened—is set by the offended. Smith gives Bona Fides to God that he is the offended and humanity is the offender. We owe something to God.
Humanity has violated (and still does) God’s laws. Even though God loves us expecting nothing in return, a violated law still requires justice. There is a price to pay. Thus argues Smith, God cannot be a just God without requiring justice. We owe something to God, but what? Scripture tells us the required price, and that makes us turn to him and cry, “Mercy!”
Mercy doesn’t mean there is an easy fix. Mercy from a sovereign God still requires justice and payment.
Yet Smith explains that. God’s love for us reverses the order of justice and mercy. Rather than us paying the price, he satisfied his own justice with the life of his son Jesus. His life, teaching, death and resurrection reach between mercy and justice. He proves he will give everything he has for us.
In the first Passover, justice and mercy were both served. The blood of a lamb spared the Hebrews in Egypt. The blood of the LAMB, Jesus, spared Christians’ lives in the Second Passover.
Ronnie’s research of the Second Passover details the timeline of Jesus’s life. It dives deep into his teaching about the Old Testament prophetic fulfillment, identity, and purpose of the Messiah. This book explains how Jesus bridges judgment and mercy.
Knowing Ronnie Smith as I do, his genuine faith in Jesus Christ, his love for God, his search for Biblical truth and his desire to share those truths, I highly recommend this book. I may have repeated myself several times, but he has satisfied the title of his book. I highly recommend it to you.
—Thomas W. Langford, Sr., Retired Pastor, AA, BA, Mdiv, September 28, 2020
Editor's Note by Shauna Perez, September 22, 2020
I appreciate Dr. Ron Smith’s intensive research to address a couple of “stumbling blocks” that have arisen for those examining the Christian faith. First, as depicted in his title, Between Justice and Mercy, is the erroneous dichotomy of the God of the Old Testament versus the God of the New Testament. Many get caught up in seeing God as a wrathful, Zeus-like god in the sky, ready to strike us down. But Dr. Smith goes to great lengths to show that God’s mercy is and always has been present, even from humanity’s first act of disobedience.
The other difficulty for a thinking person is reconciling the three days in the tomb that Jesus himself predicted with the “Good Friday” scenario most widely taught. I commend Dr. Ron for digging deep into the Hebrew calendar and culture of the time to help those unfamiliar with these to see the timeline from the right perspective. He carefully constructs a thorough argument for the crucifixion happening on Wednesday so that a full three days in the tomb take place, then—glory to God—Christ the FirstFruits offering arose on the first day of the week.
—Shauna Perez, editor and fellow student of the Word for twenty-seven years, September 22, 2020