Justice demands that:
- Every soul will be judged by the same law. (D&C 88:34-39; 130:20; 132:5, 8-12)
- For every sin, or violation of divine law, there must be payment. (Alma 42; D&C 88:40)
- Every person will be judged and treated with perfect justice. (2 Nephi 9:46)
- Every blessing must be dispensed according to divine law. Justice will not allow unearned blessings. (D&C 132:5)
- Every soul will be treated the same. God is no respecter of persons, does not have favorites, and is not partial, which means He doesn’t give unfair preference to one person over another. (Matthew 5:48; Mormon 8:12; James 3:17)
- God does not bless us out of sympathy or because He just wants to. Everything occurs as justice demands, which is according to divine law.
- The mercy of Christ and the Atonement are the only things that stand between ourselves and the “demands of justice”. (Mosiah 15:9)
When it comes to receiving answers to prayers, and claiming the promises given in priesthood blessings, justice plays a governing role. To understand why, we look at the fact that no mortal is worthy in and of ourselves, to claim, by right of payment made, any blessing from the heavens, and justice will not dispense unearned blessings.
Since the fall of man we have been excluded from the presence of God and given a mediator, Jesus Christ, to intercede on our behalf with the Father. Without this intervention and intercession from our Savior, we could not receive any blessing from Father. Without worthiness to “earn” the blessings, it would not be just of Father to give us the blessing.
This is the reason that we are laboring so hard to develop and deploy faith in Jesus Christ. We covenant every Sunday to obey Jesus Christ’s commandments and always remember Him, and take upon ourselves His name so that we can “always have His spirit to be with [us].” When we obey Jesus Christ, subjugating our will to His, then Christ pleads with the Father in our behalf to dispense the blessing we seek and need. This is how we call “Upon the name of Jesus Christ”. We are calling upon our access to His atonement by virtue of our obedience to His will.
The Father then dispenses blessings to us “In the name of Jesus Christ”, because the Savior’s atonement has met the demands of justice. The price is paid. It is Christ’s merit which dispenses the blessing in our behalf. Blessings come from the Father, through and in the name of Jesus Christ.
It is just of the Father to bless one child when Jesus Christ asks it of the Father (due to the merits of our faith and His atonement) and withhold the same blessing from another child in the exact circumstance.
Consider these scenarios:
1) Ten different children run in front of a car in ten different places. Each circumstance is identical. The laws of justice demand that God not act to save any of them unless He saves them all. He cannot save them all because this would frustrate the cause of mortality and take away opposition in all things. (2 Nephi 2) He cannot act out of mercy for just one child, because that would frustrate the demands of justice for the other nine. Now, consider that one particular child knelt with his mother before leaving for school, and his mother righteously pled for the safety of her child. The mother’s faith triggers mercy through the atonement, and the child is saved without upsetting the demands of justice for the other nine.
2) Four young teenage girls are driving home from college in the same car. Before leaving they knelt down and prayed with faith to be preserved on the way home. Before one of the young girls left her heavenly home, we’ll call her Julie, she covenanted to perform an act of sacrifice for her family that would ensure their eternal survival as a family. She agreed to do this out of love, and because it would be the greatest act of her mortal life, for which she would be granted exaltation.
The teenager driving falls asleep at the wheel and all four are involved in a nasty accident. Everyone is miraculously spared, except for Julie, who is critically injured. Julie is given many priesthood blessings by faith-filled family. She is prayed for with faith and urgency while her name is placed every day in numerous temples. God does not intervene because her sacrifice, being her own choice, is just. Mercy stays the course because it would not be merciful to take away her reward to heal the hearts of her family.
Her family mourns and suffers her loss, but miracles happen, the Spirit testifies of her sacrifice, and doubting family members are healed and restored to greater faith not possible without her sacrifice. Julie’s life is complete and it was perfect. Her family is saved and Julie is exalted. Justice and mercy have been served.
3) Two faithful High Priests each perform their duties with equal diligence. Each has a wayward son who has rebelled, and is going about destroy his life and the lives of his associates with as much vigor and conviction as he can muster.
The first High Priest has sacrificed his will to the Lord’s through his lifetime and has evolved spiritually until he has heard the voice of God proclaiming exaltation for himself, and for his posterity. (Calling and Election) The second High Priest has served with equal energy, but has not yet grown into these greater promises from the Lord.
Each faithful man kneels down to petition the Lord for the salvation of his son. The second one pleads and begs, weeps and mourns, and calls down a blessing upon his son such as his faith allows. His son feels the pull of love and his parent’s faith, but resists. Justice is served, and mercy has been extended according to law.
The first righteous father goes to the Lord without pleading, but in deep humility recounts the promise, knowing that God cannot withhold His blessing, and places his son in Christ’s care – knowing with a perfect knowledge that God will do something to save his son. The second son is visited by an angel, and his course is altered forever. The son chooses to alter the course of his life and is saved.
Justice is served because each father altered the course of their son according to the degree of their faith, and the agency of their sons. Mercy is extended commensurate with the faith of the fathers.
We could cite a billion more examples. Here is the key: Everything that happens is keeping justice and mercy in perfect harmony. We cannot see these powerful forces with mortal eyes, and sometimes things appear unfair, unjust, and certainly lacking in mercy as we would dispense it if we had a magic wand. But, the divine geometry of justice and mercy is never violated.
With this powerful truth in our hearts, we may learn how to tip the scales of justice all the way in favor of mercy. It is by our obedience to the will of Christ, which enables the bloom of faith, which triggers the Atonement of Christ, which advocates before the father and answers the demands of Justice, which fills rivers of grace to overflowing.
© February 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.