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What Is God Really Like?
The Attributes of God
Part 4 - Goodness
One of my favorites among Paul’s prayers is found in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12. There he prays for the Thessalonian saints that God will fulfill with His explosive power all of the purpose of His goodness in them, among other things. (to understand some more about that power, see Ephesians 1:19-20). Psalm 25:8; 34:8; 100:5; 135:3; 136:1; 119:68; 145:9; and Nahum 1:7 plainly teach that God is good. In the New Testament, Jesus, in Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18; and Luke 18:19 did not even claim His own goodness but declared that only God is good. There we witness His humility.
In the N.T., in the King James Version, there are 44 Greek words translated as ‘good’ and 4 words translated as ‘goodness’, all with various nuances in meaning. This word in 2 Thessalonians isagathosune, pronounced as ag-ath-o-soo'-nay, is a different word than the others in that it signifies a sternness, as illustrated by the act of Christ in cleansing the temple, Matthew 21:12-13, and in denouncing the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:13-29.
Goodness does NOT mean or imply weakness or cowardice or softness, or timidity. His goodness is strong, resolute and daring, firm and unshakeable, and fearless. And in those occasions described above, Jesus demonstrated His Goodness in Power, righting wrong and demanding righteousness. Read about His goodness in Hebrews 12:5-11 as He applies it to us, the saints of God. In 1993 and the years following, I experienced His goodness to me in His chastisement. It wasn’t fun, but I am grateful for it because, today, it is my absolute proof that I belong to Him, even though I had spent years living in gross immorality and other sin. As one pastor friend has said, God doesn’t discipline the devil’s children. Agathosune as a kindly activity on our own behalf, sometimes doing the hard things we wouldn’t ordinarily do for ourselves, like conviction of sin, correction, and discipline.
A familiar verse to us is Romans 8:28. Read it and then read Jeremiah 29:11 – “11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Everything God does has 2 purposes, guaranteed! He Will acknowledge His glory and He has, does, and WILL work everything together for our good, i.e. our benefit!!! Understand that promise is for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Thate declare His goodness.
Maybe you’re going through some hard times. Lots of folks are. And throughout the world Satan is working evil - stealing, killing, and destroying. And the perennial question that is thrown at those who proclaim the goodness of God is How can a good God, IF He is omnipotent, allow so much evil in the world? And that’s meant to blow the evangelist away. It’s an idiotic question, first of all. And I say that after having spent years studying philosophy and religion (and have the degree to prove it.) and then having been blessed by the Word of God instructing me in doctrine and correct thinking. There are many long and many short answers to the question that have been detailed by many people a lot more intelligent and expressive than I am.
However, I always have a statement and a question to respond to that question. Ok, Here’s the solution, God is going to force and enforce total goodness in all people on the earth. You do not have any choice except to do exactly what is right and correct in everything you do, all the time, everywhere. How will you enjoy being deprived of your choices, having been forced into being a robot rather than a human? Let’s start there because the real issue here is what about the evil things you have done, continue to do, and will do??? Let’s take the issue out of hypothetical generalities and apply it directly to your real life and my own. And take a few minutes to consider Romans 2:4-5, “4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.”
Just for your information, that word, ‘kindness’ is one of the other words for goodness and refers to the kindly kind of goodness. The KJV asks, “4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness … ? ‘Despise’ is the better translation because it means literally to exercise the mind against or disesteem something as unworthy of our esteem.
You see, the Word of God tells us, in Romans 1:18-23, that God Himself has revealed to all of us all that can be known about Him with just our limited intelligence, i.e. His eternal power and divine nature. The entire universe around us declares these to us. But humanity suppresses the truth and refuses to glorify Him or give Him thanks for the blessings He has given to all of us freely. Every good gift and every perfect gift in this life comes directly from His own hand personally to us.(James 1:7) We deserve destruction forever because we have, in our arrogance, refused to glorify and thank our Creator for His goodness to us. We despise His kindness and His tolerance and His patience and refuse to repent, i.e. turn away from refusing to acknowledge the truth and glorifying our own goodness. (Check out 2 Timothy 2:25 and Hebrews 6:1)
He patiently tolerates our own evil and bestows His kind goodness on us to give us time to repent and turn to Him in faith for what He has already done for us on the cross, begging us to quit being His enemies and be reconciled to Him. Consider Romans 5:10-11 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. “20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
You may be unsaved or you may be saved. There are many professing Christians who live as enemies of the cross according to Philippians 3:18. We beg you Be Reconciled To God. Make peace through faith in Him. You do NOT have to live as His enemy. He’s NOT your enemy. His will is that all people become saved and have a knowledge of the truth according to 1 Timothy 2:4.
Maybe an explanation about the will of God is in order here. There are things that God has willed and determined long ago that they will happen according to His will. There’s a specific word for that. There’s another word used in 1 Timothy 2:4 that means something He wants and prefers, i.e. wishes, but does not force this will on anyone. He wants only good for you. What do you choose??? Continue as His enemy or make peace and be reconciled to Him?
I pray for you that God will fulfill, with all His mighty power, the purpose, literally the delight, of His goodness in you and also the work of faith He has begun in you. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
What Is God Really Like?
The Attributes of God
Part 3 - Omniscience
Turn in your own Bible, if you will, to Hebrews 4:13. We are going to consider the omniscience of God. I’ve been doing short studies about What Is God Really Like? on the attributes of God such as kindness and immanence. So, now omniscience in Hebrews 4:13 – It describes for us one thing about What God Is Really Like.
Verse 13 says this, “13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” That’s the ESV translation.
Omniscience simply means that God knows everything about everything all the time, infinitely, before it even exists or happens. Isaiah 46:9-10 makes that clear. Let’s read that. It says “9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’”
Every thought (even the most fleeting idea that crosses your mind and you barely notice it), every intention (even the slightest unformed plan or purpose you conceive but never really intend to do, you just imagine it), and every motivation (ambition, dream, goal, inspiration) you have is transparent to God. Our innermost feelings are transparent to God. There’s no place to hide, not even in your own mind. You can’t go where God doesn’t know everything, down to the most miniscule particle about what you think, consider, feel, do – everything about you.
The Contemporary English Version reads, “13 Nothing is hidden from God! He sees through everything, and we will have to tell him the truth.”
There IS Someone we WILL have to give an account to. And are you ready to give an account for everything that you have ever done, thought, felt, wanted, dreamed about, etc. to The One Who knows it all about you????
Allow me to explain something about the original word for “exposed” or “opened” or “laid bare” in Hebrews 4:13. It describes a combat technique. It means to seize and twist the neck or throat of an opponent in a fight to bend back the neck of a victim to be killed. In the context of verse 12, now is the time to apply that two-edged sword to cut off both the air and blood flow. That’s pretty graphic, huh??? I’m talking about slitting the opponent’s throat.
On the internet you can see videos of muslim terrorists beheading a person. It’s gruesome, folks. But if a person isn’t right with God, THAT’S even more gruesome.
Hebrews 4:13 describes a victim who is helpless and defenseless to attack. That’s the reason that this is the most frightening verse in the Bible to me – for an enemy of God, that is.
An enemy of The Lord Jesus Christ is helpless and defenseless in His sight and He can according to Matthew 10:28 “28 … destroy both soul and body in hell.”. You can’t make ANY excuses for your behavior. NOT TO HIM. The Lord Jesus sees and knows everything about us, down to the smallest part. We can’t scam Him. We can’t run some game on Him. You might fool me. You might fool the next guy. BUT, you can never deceive Him.
Well, I hear a bunch of folks saying to themselves, “I’m certainly not an enemy of God. I like God. I try to live the best I can, ya know. Heck, I’m only human, I’m not perfect. I do the best I can, ya know? He knows I’m trying hard to be good.”
If I were addressing this issue separate from the other attributes of God, I would entitle it something like, “The Most Frightening Thing the Bible Has to Say.” Frankly, the omniscience of God is both the most frightening attribute of God to me and the most comforting.
Maybe you should know how the Bible identifies the enemies of God - “4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4
BTW, The Greek word for enemy here is used to identify Satan in Matthew 13:39 and Luke 10:19. Friendship with the world is as dangerous a life as it gets.
Consider Philippians 3:15-18 “15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:” where Paul talks about two kinds of professing Christians. One group conducted their lives like Paul, imitating him, and the other group lived like they did before becoming “Christians”, i.e. as enemies of the cross of Christ. Maybe 1 John 2:15-16 (“15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”) will shed some light on this for you – some professing Christians love the world and the things of the world, rather than living like Paul talks about in Colossians 3:1-3 “1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Setting your affections literally means to exercise your mind, being disposed to consider and be interested in those things in Heaven where Christ is King. Philippians 3:15talks about how we think – it is the same word used in Colossians 3:1-3 about setting your affections.
Instead of loving and being involved with and interested in and focusing on the world and the things of the world, these passages mean to approach your life interested in and intent to do the things that interest and concern the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ask yourself this, If I treated my spouse like I treat the Lord of Hosts, what kind of relationship would I have with him/her? Checking out all the other people that might interest you as a relationship partner instead of exercising your interest in your significant other certainly damages your relationship with the one with whom you have a significant relationship. Doesn’t it? Look, we’re all adults here. Ladies, if you’re checking out those other guys, how manly they appear and comparing them to your man, how does it affect the relationship you’re supposed to have with the man who is supposed to be significant to you. Men, if you’re checking out those other ladies’ figures and their other attractions, how is it affecting your relationship with the woman who is supposed to be significant to you?
But you say, I hear it, well, he or she, as the case might be, doesn’t know about me checking out that other person’s attractions. But that IS the point here – The Lord Jesus Christ DOES know what you think, feel, are attracted to, etc. etc. etc. Understand??? He is omniscient. The Word of God tells us what He thinks and how He feels about that. But what effect does loving the world and the things of the world have on YOU??? It changes how you feel about the one who is supposed to be the most significant to you and so it changes how you behave.
First thing -
Living as an enemy of the cross is dangerous business, folks, because God knows the truth about you. You are an open book to Him, with pictures and diagrams and all the explanations. Remember that there are going to be a lot of people wanting into Heaven and Jesus is going to tell them “Go away, I never knew you” like He said in Matthew 7:23 and 25:12 & 41 and Luke 13:27.
Do you want there to be any doubt about whose side you are on??? Do you want to risk being an adversary of The Lord Jesus Christ????? Do you really want to love the world and the things in the world, i.e. be a friend, and put yourself in the same category as Satan???
Second thing –
Jesus didn’t come to judge the world, but to save the world. Right? That’s John 3:17. But when He comes back, He WILL come back as a warrior and ruler. He IS going to be the Judge of the whole world. In John 5:22 Jesus said that God the Father has committed all judgment to Him. Consider Romans 2:2-3 and how about Hebrews 10:30-31? - “30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
The Lord Jesus Christ will be our Judge. Remember the Word picture here in Hebrews 4:13 is of an enemy/adversary of Jesus of Nazareth having his hair seized, his head jerked backward, exposing the neck to being sliced, cutting off both the air supply and the blood flow. THAT IS a fearful prospect to me for people I care about that are not at peace with God.
Third thing -
Have you wanted a closer walk with God? Have you wanted the joy Jesus promised in John 15:11 and 16:24? Do you want the joy Jesus prayed for you to have in John 17:13???
Listen – it’s pretty simple here. You can’t be a friend of the world and a friend of God at the same time. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t walk according to the Spirit and walk according to the flesh at the same time. You can’t set your affections, exercising your mind, on worldly things and on spiritual things at the same time.
Those three things make Hebrews 4:13 the most frightening verse in the Bible to me.
1. Living as an enemy of the cross
2. Risking judgment from the Lord Jesus
3. Denying myself the joy of a closer walk with God daily, here and now
If you are not right with God, these verses should make you very, very afraid. If you practice sin, conducting your life according to the flesh, you should be very, very afraid. The Lord Jesus Christ IS the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the Alpha and Omega. AND everything in between besides. And if you’re not right with Him, your future is full of hopeless desperation. And your present itself isn’t worth living either.
However, knowing the omniscience of God and knowing that I am never alone, knowing that He knows everything I am experiencing gives me great comfort. Colossians 1:27, Christ in me, gets me up in the morning. As Paul described Him to the Athenians in Acts 17:28 “28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being…” gives me great hope when I face the struggles of everyday life. The Lord Jesus Christ has bound Himself to me, to you if you are born again. We can’t escape, thank You Lord!!! I don’t want to. Like the hymnist wrote:
I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for making me Yours for eternity.
Copyright - I claim no copyright to anything I’ve written. Mostly I agree with and claim the sentiment of John Bartlett, “I have gathered a posey of other men’s flowers, and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own. ”If I’ve written truth, then it belongs to God. If I’ve written untruth, it belongs to me. I claim it. Let me know if I have erred and how. “23 Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”
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