From His book, “Believing Christ, Following Christ,” Stephen E. Robinson wrote:
“I often ask my students the following question, “When you stand before the bar of God at Judgment Day, how many of you would like the assurance that God will be absolutely fair to you?” Usually every hand will go up. Then I pull the rug out from under them. “You’d better think again. To be fair means to judge you by the law of justice and to give you what you deserve. But imperfect and fallen mortals like ourselves don’t want to get what we deserve; we should be hoping for more than that. We don’t want the Lord to be fair or just when he judges us—we want him to be merciful.” The atonement of Christ provides a way for God to be at the same time both just and merciful. Since Christ and I are one in the gospel covenant, and since in a covenant partnership it doesn’t matter which partner does what, Christ can answer the demands of justice for me, and I can then receive the benefits of mercy from him. This is an arrangement that satisfies both justice and mercy.
Yet some people are so addicted to the law of justice that they have difficulty accommodating the law of mercy or grace. They chafe at certain aspects of the gospel and of mercy that seem to them unfair (in other words, merciful rather than just). For example, it really isn’t fair that one person should suffer for the sins of others. It isn’t fair that some people can commit horrible crimes and then be completely forgiven and cleansed without having to suffer for them. It isn’t fair that those who labor for only an hour will get the same reward as those who labor all day. (See Matthew 20:1-16.) No, the gospel sometimes isn’t fair, but that is actually part of the good news. It isn’t fair—it’s merciful and thank God it is so, for no human being can stand acquitted before the demands of absolute justice. From the perspective of fallen, imperfect mortals like ourselves, being judged by justice alone is our worst nightmare.
Nevertheless, some of us can’t seem to turn loose of the law of justice. I have many people say to me, “Well, what you say about mercy and grace would be wonderful, if it were true, but it doesn’t feel right to me. It’s too easy—it doesn’t seem fair.” In other words, “I can’t accept mercy because it doesn’t feel like justice.” But that is precisely the point, precisely the good news. The gospel offers mercy to those who would otherwise be damned by justice.” What do the scriptures say? ” O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth the saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.” (2 Nephi 9:19; italics added.) ~Stephen E. Robinson, (Believing Christ—Following Christ, Deseret Book 2019) p 103-105 pocket book edition.