Good theology is built on two premises.
It's God's perfect love that makes him worthy of worship. It’s his love that makes him Holy. God is a perfectly just judge because he is a perfectly loving father.
God always judges fairly and never punishes more than is necessary. Whenever God punishes a person he always punishes them for their good.1 If he was not perfectly loving he could not be perfectly just.2 (If you think the Bible does not support the view that everything God does is motivated by love, you would do well to read Chapter 7, "God is Love" in The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbott.)
1. It does not always appear that way to the person who does not know the depth of God’s love. (See Grace Saves All: The Necessity of Christian Universalism by David Artman. A sample can be read here.)
2. Many in the Church today think that God can be perfectly just without being perfectly loving, but that’s only because they’ve projected their idea of justice onto the character of God. Man’s justice requires payment; God’s justice requires repentance. (For a biblical critique of penal substitutionary atonement see here. For an in-depth look at what the Bible has to say about atonement see Atonement, Justice, and Peace: The Message of the Cross and the Mission of the Church by Darrin W. Snyder Belousek.)
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:7-9).
Where did this idea that God requires payment come from? It came from a theologian named Augustine. (Luther was an Augustinian monk, and Calvin rejected the theology of all the Church Father’s in favour of Augustine. See here.)
It’s time we scrap Augustine’s theology and start again (see the following interview with David Bentley Hart about Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa. See also Hart’s book That All Shall Be Saved ). When ever a person begins to trust God, he welcomes them (See Ezekiel 18, See also).
God is kind to the unrepentant as well as the repentant. He is always kind, and he is always just.
"His nature is always to forgive, and just because he forgives, he punishes." (George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons )
Once a person repents, punishment is no longer necessary.