Suppose a non-Christian murders another unbeliever. The victim would go to hell (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:11-15). If the killer later receives Christ as his Savior, he would go to heaven. Is that fair?
From a purely human standpoint, we respond, “No, it isn’t!” But God’s ways are far higher than our ways (Isa. 55:9), and He does not deal with us according to our sins (Ps. 103:10).
If God were to execute justice without mercy and grace, we would all be lost. In His mercy He does not give us what we deserve, and by His grace He gives us what we don’t deserve. Even though God demands perfection, He doesn’t leave us without hope.
God has designed a plan of redemption in which He can both “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). His perfect standard is satisfied by the perfect sacrifice—His own Son Jesus Christ. The result? “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
No one can rightly accuse God of being unfair. His free offer of salvation is open to everyone. If we do not receive His gift of mercy, we will surely face His judgment. God’s grace makes it fair.
Favor to the undeserving,
Love, when from God we have turned,
Mercy, when His love we've spurned—
That's God's grace! —Anon.
Grace: Getting what we don't deserve. Mercy: Not getting what we do deserve.