Monday, 11 November 2013

The Goodness of God (2)

In a previous post, we looked at the ways God’s goodness is revealed in creation and providence. There are other ways by which he reveals his goodness and here are some suggestions.

Jesus came for our deliverance because God is good. He lived his life of perfect obedience and died his atoning death because the good God wanted each of his people to experience the forgiveness of their sins and to have the obedience of Jesus imputed to them as their righteous standing in his presence. Jesus was raised from the dead because the good God wanted him to be the forerunner of a countless number who would experience resurrection glory because of his triumph. Jesus was exalted to heaven and given the Holy Spirit because the good God wanted each of his people to know the benefits of being adopted into his family and to experience the process of sanctification. Jesus will return to the earth because the good God wants his people to be raised from the dead and to enter into the fullness of eternal life. Jesus will yet sit on his judgement throne because the good God wants each of his people to be publicly honoured and acquitted. Jesus will yet bring into existence the new heavens and new earth because the good God wants his children to share the inheritance of their Elder Brother, an inheritance that includes their experience of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Surely we should respond and praise the Lord for his goodness.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies believers because God is good. The range of activities of the Holy Spirit in God’s people indicates the extent of God’s goodness. He convicts them of their sin, he reveals to them the Saviour, he enables them to believe in Christ, he indwells them despite their sinfulness, he gives to them assurance of salvation, he teaches them to confess their sins, he confers on them spiritual gifts, he provides them with foretastes of heaven, he makes them Christlike through the fruit of the Spirit, he renews continually their inner man, he empowers them for witness, he engages them in God’s service, and much more. Surely we should respond and praise the Lord for his goodness.

God only works good for his people and only allows to happen to them experiences that will result in their eternal good. We are familiar with Romans 8:28, that all things work together for good to them that love God. This does not mean that all experiences are pleasant or beneficial in themselves. The important factor is what God does with them.

The brothers of Joseph were wrong to sell him to foreigners, but the good God overruled it for their future benefit. Joseph was unjustly treated on that occasion, but it was a stage in the path to prominence that the good God had planned for him. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was unpleasant, was administered in spite (it buffeted him), had Satanic origins, yet was the means by which the good God kept him from pride. It’s not only the positive aspects of life that bring good into the present and future experiences of God’s people. There is not a second of time in a Christian’s experience which will not contribute to his final good. He will experience God’s forgiveness for his sins, his guidance out of problems, his presence through storms, his enlightening of the Bible, his answers to prayer, his peace in the heart, and many more blessings. Surely we should respond and praise the Lord for his goodness.

God’s goodness will be displayed in the eternal state. In this life we experience much of God’s goodness. Yet in the eternal state we shall experience much more. He will give to his people their inheritance of the new heavens and new earth, he will give to them the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that they will know depths of peace, heights of joy and surges of love that they cannot yet imagine. They will live in an environment of beauty and glory, with no trace of sin or fear. And it will last for ever because the good God will be a fountain ever overflowing with goodness for his people.

There, God will bring to final excellence the good that he has been producing throughout the lives of his people. There, each Christian will enjoy the full results of the weary nights they spent in prayer; there, the martyrs will see that their suffering for Christ was worth it as they wear their crowns of glory; there, the weak in body will see that their afflictions endured by trusting in Christ have contributed to their state of bliss; there, the Christians who were mentally disturbed will see that their inner pain has worked for them an eternal weight of glory; there, the mentally handicapped who were born unable to express themselves will find that they too have a valuable place in proclaiming eternally the praises of God. All this, and much more, will be the experience of God’s people. Surely we should respond and praise the Lord for his goodness.

His goodness is what makes God so attractive. God is beautiful in unbounded measure, eternally revealing every pleasing feature, continually providing every blessing, and is therefore of invaluable worth to his people. Our response must be to praise him with our minds, hearts, wills and lives.

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