The good news of the gospel is cause for rejoicing. Our sins separated us from our God. In an act of supreme grace, Ephesians 2:4ff, God sent Jesus Christ to this earth to become the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus, then, willingly shed His own blood for us. As a result, we can be reconciled to God through our obedience. Our God is an awesome God who loves us and shows great mercy towards us. Ultimately, we are thankful and overjoyed at God’s grace. We know He loves us. He cares about us so much that He even knows the number of hairs on our heads, Matthew 10:30.
Those in the religious world are content to dwell on this aspect of God. They do so to the exclusion of so many of God’s other attributes. In fact, God’s love, they say, will save everyone. No one will be punished for the deeds he did in the flesh, 2 Corinthians 5:10. Or they say that there is no hell, but the wicked will be punished with annihilation. These are simply ways to concentrate only on the love of God and ignore other attributes He has.
One of these attributes is that God is faithful, 2 Corinthians 2:18; Hebrews 10:23. This quality is also a positive one, so no one has a problem acknowledging this as an attribute of God. Yes, God is love and He is faithful. What does it mean that God is faithful? The scripture tells us God cannot lie, Titus 1:2. He is all truth. As such, He must be faithful to Himself which means He must also be true to His word. If God has said it, it must be true; and He will hold to it. In this idea is the fact that God will do as He has said.
In fact, a third positive attribute stems from the faithfulness of God and is found in 1John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. We appreciate God’s faithfulness when it has to do with His forgiving our sins. Interesting, too, though, is that God will forgive the Christian’s sins , but He requires something of us. He will forgive our sins, but we must confess them to Him first. And that faithfulness of God will forgive us.
We would also agree with John in the above verse in that it is just of God to forgive us if we confess our sins to Him since He has said He would. Here we see that God is also just; and in this context, most people would have no problem acknowledging that God is just. It is only right for our loving God to forgive our sins.
While it is true that God is love, 1 John 4:8, that is not all God is. God is faithful. God is merciful and forgiving, too, but He is also just. What else does this idea of justice mean, though? A loving God offers the possibility of reconciliation to a sinful people; a just God rewards those who accept His offer and punishes those who do not. The reality of a loving God is also a just God. He is a God who wants all to be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9. At the same time, though, He is a God who will judge those who disobey Him. In this is justice. How could God be considered just if He not only rewarded those who serve and obey Him but also those who rebel against Him? Where would the justice be? A God who is faithful to what He has said must reward those who are faithful and must also punish those who disobey. If He did something else, He could not be considered just. If He allowed to enter heaven everyone who, in life, mocked His will; how could He be considered just? If He simply destroyed those souls who were disobedient, where would His justice be? He has said that those who are disobedient will be punished, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9. Paul says there that God will take vengeance on those evil people. See also Romans 2:5-9; 2 Corinthians 5:10; and Galatians 6:7.
We can be thankful that we have a loving, faithful, merciful, and forgiving God; but we should also be thankful that He is just even though the thought of God’s punishment of the wicked may sadden us. In Revelation, after the destruction of Babylon, we might expect to see mourning over her even though she was wicked; however, in Revelation 18:20 we read these words, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” Here we see that the just judgment of God is cause for rejoicing. It may seem paradoxical to us, but it is what the justice of God demands.