The other day Caleb was asking me if God is always gracious. I said, 'Yes, He is.' Then he asked if God is always just. I said, 'Yes, He is.' Then he said, 'Is God unchanging?' I said, 'Yes, He is.' Then he wanted to know how this can be possible - he views graciousness as being a little bit unjust. And then, if He is truly unchanging, well, how can He be doing both the grace thing and the just thing all at the same time!? Very confusing - not just for a 10 year old.
We discussed it a little bit and I said, 'Caleb, I have the answer. Do you want to know what it is?' 'Sure!' he said.
At first he thought it was a joke - kind of like where my Dad asks, 'If a chicken and half laid an egg and a half in a day and a half, then how many pancakes would it take to shingle a doghouse?' (If you want the answer, ask my Dad).
But it wasn't a joke - in that genre anyways.
Here is my answer:
Caleb, if God punished another person for our sins - a person other than Himself - wouldn't that be terribly unfair and unjust!? Of course it would. If God just forgave our sins because He's nice and kind and wants to do it, would that be just? Of course not. If God left us to flounder in our sins and provided no way of purification, would that be gracious to us? No. So, the answer is both the Trinity and the Gospel. If Jesus were not God, taking on Himself the punishment for our sins, it would be not only impossible for Him to die for our sins, but also incredibly unjust for God to do that to someone other than Himself. If Jesus, being God, voluntarily takes the punishment for our sins, in obedience to the will of the Father (but He is somehow one with Him), then we cannot accuse God of being unjust. By Jesus death on the cross for us, and Him being a person within the Godhead, we see both His unchanging nature full of grace and justice. This is both the Gospel and the Trinity at work! So that was my answer to him, in a nutshell.
What would you have said?