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)
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