God’s Mercy: Our Freedom and Our Judgment

St. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:4-10 –

God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 Biblical scholar L. Ann Jervis in her book At the Heart of the Gospel: Suffering in the Earliest Christian Message comments

God’s mercy, not our sense of justice, has always defined God’s relationship to God’s people. In other words, God’s freedom to have compassion on whom God will have compassion (Rom 9:15) is at once God’s righteousness.

While we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), when we were dead in trespasses (Ephesians 2:5), God showed His love for us, dying on the cross in order to save us.  The Cross – the place where the Crucified Lord dies – is His very throne of judgment and His righteousness.  This is the great mystery of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.  

In the end, God has no desire for the death of the sinner (Ezekiel 18:32), nor does He take any pleasure in such a judgment.  God however does, as He always has, allow us humans to make our our choices even about eternal things.  As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce  – 

 There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done’, and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’