God Is Good

God Is Good

A.W. Tozer said, “The goodness of God is infinitely more wonderful than we will ever be able to comprehend.”

In other words, God’s goodness simply can’t be nailed down. It transcends our understanding, yet it blesses us every moment of our lives. His goodness can’t be defined, yet we know its truth through Scripture and the Holy Spirit’s witness.

This raises a serious question: Is God’s goodness really what we think it is?

God has a lot of attributes that aren’t very popular, even among Christians. In the Bible, we read of His judgment, anger, justice, and wrath. The very mention of these seemingly “hard” traits of God causes a lot of people to either tremble in fear, or to deny that God is good, or even if He exists.

Yet, if God is good and these “hard” traits also describe Him, then we must consider them part of His goodness, too. Otherwise, we will be worshipping a God of our own design instead of the true God.

Jesus said in John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

To worship the Father in spirit and truth, we need to understand that God’s goodness is all His traits wrapped up in one singular, supremely good being. God’s all-prevailing goodness is what assures us that His justice and His wrath are righteous. Although, His trait of holiness is beyond our grasp, the goodness of God sends the Holy Spirit to us to transform our lives and conform us to Jesus Christ.

Still, when these unpopular traits of God are preached, some Christians think, “I’ll be glad when this sermon is over. I’m ready to hear something practical for my life.”

In truth, every aspect of God’s character has practical implications for our lives, including the unpopular ones, because each one proceeds from His goodness.

Psalm 73:1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

God isn’t split into different things. He’s not a little bit wrath and little bit mercy; He’s not more judgment and less compassion. Every attribute of God is wrapped up in His goodness. And as God purifies our heart, we can see His goodness more clearly in everything He has created and everything He does.

If God were only holy, He would destroy every sinful person without warning. But God is also merciful, so He gives us His Law to identify our sin, along with the grace to believe, to repent, and to receive forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ.

God’s goodness comes from His love, because He is love. This love is patient with us. However, His love and goodness also discipline us so that we do not continue in sin.

Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline, so be earnest and repent.

To illustrate how God’s goodness works, there is a book called When Helping Hurts. It talks about how merciful deeds can actually harm needy people if those deeds aren’t done with a justice-oriented goal in mind.

You see, a gift of money or supplies only helps an impoverished individual or community if it builds their dignity and self-sufficiency rather than feeding an ongoing dependency. Mission agencies have learned this the hard way over decades. Compassion without discipline lacks the power to change lives. It looks merciful, but ends up as an empty gesture that feeds dependency rather than dignity and an improved life.

An example of the failure of compassion without discipline is our government welfare system. Well-intended programs have made people dependent on the government for everything in their life. In exchange for a monthly check, they lose their dignity, they cease working, the family structure is destroyed, and the result is more poverty. Those who are dependent upon welfare payments must struggle to accomplish something better in their life because they often lack any knowledge of another way of life. Fortunately, if they have faith in Jesus Christ and decide to live according to God’s Word and discipline, there is hope for their future prosperity.

A common question is “If God is good, why is there so much suffering and evil in the world?” While Satan is the perpetrator of evil, the goodness of God uses the occasion to accomplish His greater good. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is a prime example.

The apostle Paul also had this view of trials. During an emotional moment, Paul testified to the church in Ephesus that the Holy Spirit would lead him directly into trials that would cause him great suffering, but it would accomplish God’s good purpose and benefit others.

Acts 20:22-38 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.

Paul knew that suffering is part of the Christian life. Indeed, it’s a significant part of taking up our cross daily. That’s why Paul said, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Preaching the whole Gospel gave Paul a clear conscience before God, knowing he did not mislead anyone.

Some people only see God’s goodness when He answers prayer. The scripture often quoted is Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. However, the whole counsel of God tells us that the request must be in accordance with God’s will.

1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

God may express goodness by withholding seemingly good things from us, even when we seek them from Him. Our timing may be off. After all, how good and loving would it be if the Father gives us something that could harm us or someone else?

In that case, God’s withholding is just as good as His giving. That’s the loving discipline of a caring, good Father. While He protects us from harmful requests, He also preserves for us what is truly and purely good. That is why the whole Gospel must be preached.

The whole counsel of God is essential in another way. For instance, if I speak of God’s mercy but refuse to acknowledge His justice, I am preaching a false gospel and leading people away from repentance that is necessary for salvation.

Biblical figures from both Testaments recognized this. They were acquainted with the tender love of God, yet they fell on their faces in awe-filled terror when confronted with His holy presence.

The righteous prophet Isaiah testified in Isaiah 6:5, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Something similar happened centuries later when the Father spoke from Heaven at the Mount of Transfiguration. It’s a scene of trembling, yet it reflects God’s goodness too.

Matthew 17:1-8 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

Notice the disciples may have been astonished when they saw Moses and Elijah, but the manifested glory and voice of God terrified them. However, Jesus—the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, and our Advocate before the Father—comforted the disciples with His goodness and gentle touch.

Only when God’s traits are seen as one—judging and forgiving, just and merciful, holy and compassionate—do we present the whole Gospel. God’s goodness is neither “soft” nor “hard”; it is profound, pure, and powerful.

The Bible isn’t a just a book about how to get blessings. It’s a book about God, who is wholly good, and its message about His goodness is highly significant.

Mark 10:17-18 And as he [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Jesus is pointing out that goodness is a characteristic of God—not man. Of course, the man was correct in calling Jesus good, but he did not know why. He did not know Jesus was God in the flesh. So, Jesus addressed him accordingly, saying God alone is good.

Jesus answered the man, as we read on in Mark 10:19-27,You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Jesus tells us there is only one good being in the entire universe. All of our so-called goodness and good works cannot save us. Only the grace of God enables a rich man or a poor man to have faith in Jesus Christ and be saved.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

While we might say someone is a good person; that person, if he is walking with God, will disagree with us. Because, when you are walking with God, you are aware His holiness and your unholiness.

The closer we get to Holy God, the more sinful we see ourselves and the more humble we become. When we are not close to God, we compare ourselves to each other and proclaim, “I am as good, or I am better than they are, for I don’t do what they do.”

The closer and longer we walk with Jesus, we realize like Paul, who said in Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability carry it out.

Despite His knowing that we will fail, God’s love and goodness toward us remains. For God’s powerful goodness has given us grace to believe in the forgiveness of sin through the blood atonement of Jesus Christ, and He has given us the gift of repentance.

Grace and repentance begin when the Holy Spirit convicts us, causing us to have godly sorrow. For many, conviction, godly sorrow, and repentance fall into the “hard” category of God’s commands. They avoid these things and seek preaching that will make them feel good about themselves. However, without conviction, godly sorrow, and repentance, we cannot be saved nor filled with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, [they were experiencing a strong conviction] and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Once again, the goodness of God leads us to repentance and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement for our sin. Is His goodness leading you?

Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

God desires for His traits of goodness, kindness, and mercy to bring us to repentance so that we will not experience His traits of justice and holy wrath.

God is entirely good, and He can choose any way He wishes to lead us to repentance (which, after all, simply means turning from self-determination and begin following Jesus). It’s time to accept both God’s discipline and His love. It is time to repent and be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we have grace to exhibit the goodness of God to other people.

Our job as Christians is to make the goodness of God apparent in every aspect of life. But we must not attempt to do it in our own strength, wisdom, or goodness. We can only do it as we surrender ourselves completely to Jesus Christ, allowing His Holy Spirit to work in us and through us.

If you are experiencing the Holy Spirit’s conviction, realize it is God’s goodness calling you to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross. Yield to that conviction by repenting of your sin and giving your life to Jesus through water baptism. You will be born again of the Holy Spirit and suddenly you will realize that God is truly good—all the time.