The Character of God
John the beloved, in describing the character of God declared, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). The attribute of love is a true essence of God’s nature; without it He would not be “God.” And even when the Lord must judge His children for their unrighteousness, He does it in love not in hate and anger. For His loving-kindness is great and abundant (Isaiah 55:7; Romans 5:20).
The Lord revealed Himself to Moses saying, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6, 7).
The Plan of Salvation
Justice and mercy are the two fundamental attributes of God’s character. David, declared, “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies” (Psalms 25:10). These are the principles that determine all of His dealings with men.
Satan charged that justice and mercy are inharmonious, and that God is not merciful to His creatures in the administering of justice, nor was He just in His administering of mercy. So, the plan of salvation was designed to prove Satan’s charge false. The Father offered His Son to pay the penalty of man’s sin by His death on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). There is no greater love than this (John 15:13).
God’s justice was shown by condemning sin and His mercy was shown when He took upon Himself the atonement of man’s transgressions. Thus, justice and mercy were fully satisfied at the Cross. “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed” (Psalms 85:10).
God is merciful to repentant sinners, and He gives condemned sinners hope of eternal life (Psalms 103:8–14; 145:8; Jeremiah 29:11; 31:3). But He cannot afford to weaken His kingdom by not upholding its justice (Psalms 85:10; 89:14). Justice is a needed consequence of His love, for a God all mercy is a God unjust. And without justice to the evil doers, there could be no mercy to the righteous ones.
Although the Scriptures teach that the Lord rejoices in mercy (Micah 7:18), it doesn’t teach that He rejoices in judging His children. In fact, His judgments are said to be a “strange work” (Isaiah 28:21). But it is His mercy that controls His judgments and makes Him “longsuffering” (Lamentations 3:22; Romans. 2:4).
In His service,