Did God have to save anyone? Is God obligated to show mercy? Could He have sent everyone to hell? And would it have been right and just? These questions bring up the issue of God’s justice. Being that God is holy, pure, sinless, just, and good, when sin enters reality as it has, God cannot be in its presence and He must render payment for all wrong done against Him and His glory in order to be just. So the question arises: Would it be just for God to render judgment to His creation that rebelled against Him? Absolutely. He could send everyone to hell and be totally right in doing that. This is a very important point to understand when approaching God in the Scriptures because many will assume that God is indeed obligated to show mercy. But this goes against the very meaning of mercy: not receiving what you deserve. We earned wrath. And He’s in no way obligated or contrained by anything within His creation, including us humans. He didn’t have to show mercy. God could have provided no chance for anyone to have been saved, we would have all stood before the judgment seat of God, and rightfully be sent to hell for our wickedness against Him. And we would know that it was right. Remember here that God must render payment for sin commited. So how is it that God can declare an unjust, unrighteous, wicked sinner like me to be just? How is it that God can now be in the presence of sinners at all? In order for God to be just in declaring sinners righteous, He Himself had to come in the flesh and live perfectly and die a sinners death and take the punishment for sin on Himself. Who was it that came in the flesh? Jesus Christ. He came in order that 1) God would be declared just and 2) that He would be the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:26). So God, pre-Christ, had passed over former sins, not rendering due payment for wrong done in declaring sinners righteous (Romans 3:21-26). If God passes over sins with no rendering of payment, then God is unjust. But in Christ, God is declared just because Jesus (the Son of God, equal with the Father) lived a perfect life, fulfilling the law of God, and by dying on a cross showed God to be righteous by taking the judgment of God within Himself on the cross. So first and foremost, God was declared to be just on the cross, and this is the single most important thing that occurred there, mainly because if God is unjust He ceases to be God and this cannot be. And of only secondary importance (though amazing and wonderful for us!), God declares sinners to be just by faith in Christ and is thus merciful in doing so. How is this so? He took the punishment, the just wrath of God, for the person who has faith in His blood. What is mercy though? It is not receiving what you do deserve. We deserve wrath, but in Christ, by belief in Him, we are made just. How amazing and incredible! So in summing up, God indeed does render all accounts paid in full in the end, either in the sinner or in Christ for the sinner who has faith in Him. He is just and does render due payment for sin done against Him. But it happens in one of two ways: it is either paid in the sinner for eternity in hell, or it is paid in Christ’s death and resurrection, for the one who has faith in Him. God is “just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” So the question is not, “Why doesn’t God save everyone for all time?” but rather, “Why does God save anyone at all? Why doesn’t He just wipe us out right now and be done with it?” This magnifies the mercy and grace of God when you see that God could indeed have sent you and everyone else to hell (and will if you reject Christ) but made a way for salvation from hell in Christ, by placing your faith and trust in Him and His work, not your own. How wonderful!