ideal government must combine the principles of both justice and mercy.
Justice means equity, impartiality and the unerring application of
an inexorable law. But who could endure a stern justice where there
was no hope of mercy for erring men? Everyone who is conscious of
his own failings will be compassionate toward the mistakes of others.
The exercise of justice
and mercy appear to be inimical. "Justice" means to treat
every man as he deserves. "Mercy" means to treat him better
than he deserves. The human mind requires both, but finds them impossible
to combine. The ideal government will extend absolute justice and
at the same time will not fail to show mercy. And any system of government
that fails to combine justice and mercy will one day fall by the weight
of its own corruption. This is why human history knows of no enduring
system of law and order.
Yet the "impossible" has been achieved. Such an ideal system
of government has already been established. It will soon be set up
and, without question (as a great statesman once said), "it shall
Amazingly, this ideal government
was not established by force of arms or by popular vote. It was established
by one lone Man who died on a cross. But you will ask, "Why this
mysterious death? What did that have to do with establishing a perfect
government for all men?" The explanation deserves the serious
consideration of every man who wants to see the rule of equity and
compassion in society and in the family of nations.
The Almighty God, as Creator, Ruler and Judge of all, has a government.
It rests on two great pillars: justice and mercy.
"Justice and judgment
are the habitation of Thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before
Thy face." Ps. 89:14.
When some of His subjects
committed rebellion and treason, the Judge had a God-sized problem
on His hands. If He executed the rebels (which His righteous law demanded),
how could He satisfy His yearning desire to show mercy and forgiveness? On the other
hand, if He exercised compassion, how could He be true to His own
inexorable justice. Each principle was as strong as the other. God's
desire to show mercy was as strong as His desire to uphold justice.
How could He establish His government on the basis of eternal security
and be true to Himself?
This is what the cross
of Jesus Christ is all about. The Judge of all came to this planet
in the person of Jesus Christ. Though Lord of all, He became servant
of all. He left His throne because His love called Him that way. Though
innocent, He voluntarily stood in our place and assumed our guilt.
Justice demanded that sin be punished and the death penalty be executed.
This Son of the infinite God suffered as we deserve in order that
we may be treated as He deserves. Divine justice unsheathed its sword
against our Substitute. The suffering of Christ was incomprehensible.
Yet there was no relenting until justice was fully satisfied for the
sins of the whole world. Those who think that God is some easy-going,
indulgent benevolence should consider the cross and see that the Ruler
of the universe is clothed in terrible and impartial justice.
Not only did justice have
to be fully satisfied at the cross, but mercy too. Here God's mercy
was seen to be as great and as strong as His justice. At the cross,
God provided absolution and forgiveness for the race. "If
One died for all," says St. Paul, "then were all dead."
2 Cor. 5:14. That is to say, since Christ has died in every man's
place, He has paid the penalty for the sins of every man. It is the same as if every man had died and paid the penalty
for his own sins. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is God's
witness to us that, in Christ, 1.) God has taken away the sins of the world, 2.) that
we have been redeemed, 3.) that mercy higher than the heavens and deeper
than hell has been offered and extended to us for Jesus' sake.
Of Christ, the
ancient prophet declared, "The government shall be upon His shoulder."
Isa. 9:6. This is because justice and mercy met in Jesus Christ and
"kissed each other." Ps. 85:10. That is why God has appointed
Him to be Judge and Ruler of all. With Him and Him alone, there is
perfect justice and mercy. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins." 1 John 1:9. Justice himself
embraces the repentant believer in Jesus as a righteous man. If we refuse His
mercy and continue to trample on His law, mercy herself will punish
us with "everlasting destruction." 2 Thess. 1:9.
If Christ thought God's
government was worth dying for, we think His kingdom is worth living
for. We cannot help establish it. That is already done! Neither can
we help to set it up, for that will be done when Christ comes again
in power and great glory. But we can extol its virtues and the goodness
of Him who made it possible. And we do extend to you the King's invitation
to be part of His ideal society: "Whosoever will, let him come!" and "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!!"