The Expository Files


God is Good

“For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5) In researching the doctrine of God and His characteristics, we could look at His holiness, power and love. It is important to note that all these attributes, and many more, belong to God. But none of them describe the completeness of God by themselves. God is love, but God is not only love. Any being that is only love, but not also holy, would not be God. That's the trouble with many misconceptions of God that exist today: They attribute to God only some of His attributes, denying others (i.e. love without righteous wrath… just as inaccurate as righteous wrath without love). They thus end up with a false idea of God.

We are going to consider God's goodness. As we begin, we must say that God is good, but that is not all He is! This is not a complete description of God, but merely one aspect of His nature out of many.

Understanding The Term "Good"
What do we mean when we say something is "good"? Do you think you know?

One defintion of good is "suitable for a function"; for example, a jeep is good for driving in mud. God is good for getting to heaven because He is as a Shepherd guiding His sheep (Psalm 100:1-5; cf. John 10:14; 27,28; 14:6)

Another definition of “good” is to be "beneficial"; for example, hot lunches are good for children; (Matthew 7:7-11; 5:44,45). God is also good in this way; He is beneficial to us.

But the word “good” has several other meanings as well. To be “good” can sometimes mean to be "valid, genuine"; If someone is “as good as gold” we mean thay they are worthy of our trust. God is certainly “good” in this way as well (John 14:1-3; 2 Corinthians 1:19,20).

Sometimes, the word “good” means to be "sound, healthy" as in the sentence “His eyesight is good.” Entropy effects all physical things; eyesight fails; but God is spirit and not subject to this. He is eternally good in this sense as well (Hebrews 1:10-12).

Then again, “good” could mean "honorable" as in “He has a a good name.” God fits this definition of “good” as well. (Hebrews 6:13-14; 17-20).

Sometimes, “good” means "enjoyable, happy" as in living the good life.” God provides His people with joy and gladness, so He is good in this respect as well (Revelation 21:3,4; Philippian 3:1; 4:4)

You probably didn't think of all these defintions when earlier asked what he term 'good” means. Well, do not relax yet because we're not finished. Occasionally, the word “good” is defined as "complying with a set of rules" such as it does in the statement “Her manners are good.” Of course, God is the One who wrote the rulebook (Isaiah 55:8-11).

Also, 'good” might mean to be “skilled" as in abeing a good singer. Detailed design in creation tells us much of God's skills (Genesis 1:31; Psalm 139:14; Romans 1:20).

Sometimes, “good” means "a considerable amount, degree." We might talk of a good amount of energy being spent. The Scriptures talk of God having a good amount of mercy (1 Peter 1:2-4).

The term “good” might refer to moral goodness; to be "morally sound" as in “He is a good person.” God is good in this way as well, absolutely (1 John 1:5).

God Is The Standard Of All That Is Good
When the Scriptures describe what is good, God is held up before us as the standard (Psalm 25:8, Nahum1:7). This is important for mortal men and women to understand: God determines what is good and what is not. We don't. Sometimes, men sit in judgment on God and His actions. Some have accused God of all kinds of evil, suggesting some of His past actions may have been too harsh or that His words about what will take place at the final judgement and in hell are evil. They are forgetting that their determinations are not the standard, but God's decree is.

God's works are good. Step by step, as God created the world, He examined it and declared it to be good. (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21). He then surveyed the whole of creation, and said it was "very good" (Genesis 1:31).

This creation is part of the way God reveals Himself to us, and we are told to look at it and learn something of God (Romans 1:19,20). All that God does is good. The Psalmist said, “Thou art good and doest good; Teach me Thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:68).

God's gifts are good, (some of our gifts are not good, or are good in some ways but not others. I suppose a gift of chocolates are like that; good in some ways but not others. But God gives good things.

God's gifts express his beneficience, love and mercy toward His creation. They are for the good of God's creatures, (James 1:17). He does good to all men (Acts 14:17); and He especially gives good gifts to His children (Ephesians1:3). God guarantees that for the Christian, "all things work together for good" and that even chastening is for our good (Hebrews 12:10). It is good when our faith is tested (James 1:2-4,12). The many promises and restrictions are all for our good, because God is good. They are designed to get us out of this mess we have made for ourselves.

God's commands are good, (many of our manmade laws are not good. It is not a good law to permit the killing of the unborn). God's laws are a reflection of His holy nature. They are holy laws. His commandments are a revelation of His moral perfection. Our God-given goal is to become like God, (Matthew 5:48) and His laws are given for that very purpose, (John 10:10, Hebrews 5:8,9; 1 John 5:3)

One of the greatest compliments a man can receive is that someone would say, "He is a good man" One soup company described its product for years with the slogan “Mmm Mmm Good!” Well, I can tell you "God is good" He set the standard by which we measure goodness. No one truly knows goodness until they know God.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 17.6; June 2010