How do you define “good”? I could say, “This pizza tastes good” and “My wife is so good to me” and my frame of reference and meaning are clearly not the same. Andrea is WAY better than pizza. Howeverf, if I could eat pizza with Andrea, that is even better.
Okay, back to the topic at hand.
God’s holiness is not the same as God’s goodness. God’s kindness is not the same as God’s goodness. God’s love or compassion is not the same as God’s goodness.
Goodness means “worthy of approval.” It means everything God does is right and should not be second-guessed.
God’s goodness drives him to be holy, be kind, be loving, and be compassionate. God hears prayer because He is a good God. Our exercising of faith depends on a good God. God creates us because goodness compelled Him to.
God’s goodness permeates the Bible. I challenge you to find a page in your Bible where you cannot find an example of God’s goodness.
Listen to these worship descriptions of the goodness of God from A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy: “Divine goodness, as one of God’s attributes, is self-caused, infinite, perfect, and eternal. Since God is immutable He never varies in the intensity of His loving-kindness. He has never been kinder than He now is, nor will He ever be less kind. He is no respecter of persons but makes His sun to shine on the evil as well as on the good, and sends His rain on the just and on the unjust. The cause of His goodness is in Himself; the recipients of His goodness are all His beneficiaries without merit and without recompense.” (pg. 83)
How good are the works of God!
Before You Vote: Seven Questions Every Christian Should Ask by David Platt (published by Radical Press, 2020). 125 pages. I was really hoping to find a resource on voting that I could hand out to Christians every election cycle. And while I didn’t disagree with Platt’s conclusions or find any of his main points anti-biblical, this isn’t the book I’ve been looking for. I found his voting gird in the last chapter to be very confusing. I can’t help but wonder if this book was rushed to print in order to be available before election day, because it didn’t really equip Christians voters for voting their conscience as I had hoped. One highlight of reading this book was the backstory of how Pres. Trump ended up at Platt’s church and how he came to bring him out on stage to pray for him at the end of a worship service. BOOK RATING: 7 out of 10 stars.
Two Views on Women in Ministry edited by James R. Beck (published by Zondervan, 2005). 359 pages. You won’t find any books that are more thorough in wrestling with an ecclesiological issue than the “views” books where scholars are asked to write an opinion and then are critiqued by others. And then, each scholar in the book does the same thing by writing their own opinion and then are critiqued by everyone else. This book wrestles with egalitarianism (equal ministry opportunity for both genders) and complementarianism (ministry roles differentiated by gender). You will find the tone to be gracious and the conclusions to be exegetical. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.
From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race by J. Daniel Hays (published by InterVarsity Press, 2003). 240 pages. This is a slow read, because it is more like a series of encyclopedia articles than a narrative theme weaved through the chapters in the book. That will be the most significant challenge for any reader. But, what will benefit you is being educated or reminded of the ethnic diversity at the roots of Christianity. The influences of Africa and the Ancient Near East are too often overlooked. The author helps us see that our faith is a racially diverse faith in its roots and in its climax in heaven. To avoid it or prefer to worship with only people that look like us is to worship in ways that God did not design the church for. BOOK RATING: 8 out of 10 stars.
Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible by Erwin W. Lutzer (published by Moody Press, 1998). 216 pages. The author works through 7 arguments for why the Bible is worthy of our consideration: the Bible’s own claims (logical), archaeology (historical), prophecy, Jesus, creation, the canonization of the Bible (providential), and personal reasons. Each reason is simply explained with persuasion for why the Bible is trustworthy. This book would be a helpful asset to any non-Christian skeptic who is open-minded about salvation. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.
Maturity: Growing Up and Going on in the Christian Life by Sinclair B. Ferguson (published by Banner of Truth Trust, 2019). 231 pages. This is a “how to” book on how to grow spiritually. The author explores what Paul meant with the phrase “mature in Christ” as he explains subjects like abiding, assurance, seeking God’s will, sin, temptation, suffering, patience, and service. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.
Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection by Edward T. Welch (published by New Growth Press, 2012). 337 pages. I bought this book because of the theme and application to the counseling room. I encounter many Christians who wrestle with guilt and shame over past sins and circumstances, and this book looked (or looks) like it would be a tool for help. I didn’t find conclusions to be disagreeable, but the author rambles quite a bit that I struggled finding the meat of this resource. The frontside and the backside of the book were clearer than the middle. The author did a good job showing the way that humanity shamed Jesus and His godly response to it. I will probably keep looking for counseling books on the same them that are more clear. BOOK RATING: 7 out of 10 stars.
The Christian Ethic of Love by Norman L. Geisler (published by Zondervan, 1973). 127 pages. If you believe in self-esteem, this is your book. I do not believe that the Bible teaches self-esteem but warns against loving self. When Jesus referring to loving as we do ourselves, He wasn’t commending it but using it as a frame of reference. Therefore, I disagree in fundamental ways with the author of this book who promotes a love of self. BOOK RATING: 5 out of 10 stars.
“Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways!” (Psalm 128:1)
When we fear God, we can expect His blessing. The Hebrew word for “blessing” is esher, which means “happiness.” And this word is interesting, because in the original language it is in the plural so is should be translated twice: “Blessed, blessed” or “happiness, happiness.” The man who fears God is doubly happy and blessed.
Fearing God involves reverence or respect or awe to Him. It is possessing a reverent submission to Him that leads us to careful and consistent obedience.
If fearing God is not prevalent in your life, then your view of God is misaligned, misinformed, or missing something. Some would say, “Your God is too small.”
Ed Welch, a biblical counselor and faculty member of CCEF, writes, “The problem is clear: People are too big and God is too small. The answer is straightforward: We must learn to know that our God is more loving and more powerful than we ever imagined. Yet this task is not easy. Even if we worked at the most spectacular of national parks, or the bush in our backyard stared burning without being consumed, or Jesus appeared and wrestled a few rounds with us, we would not be guaranteed a persistent reverence of God. Too often our mountain-top experiences are quickly overtaken by the clamor of the world, and God once again is diminished in our minds. The goal is to establish a daily tradition of growing in the knowledge of God.” (When People Are Big and God Is Small, pg. 113)
In short, Welch says that we don’t fear God because of our ignorance.
Okay…philosophically, that all makes sense, but make evidences of fearing or not fearing God can I visualize? Here are 3.
- If you fear God, you will always be content – “Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!” (Psalm 34:9). God will give us all we lack or need if we fear Him. Isn’t that what we want in life? To not lack anything? Psalm 34 does not promise luxuries; rather, it promises satisfaction and even fulfillment in life.
- If you fear God, the mercy of God will be poured upon your life – “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; … But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children” (Psalm 103:11, 17). Do you have a heightened awareness of God’s mercy?
- If you fear God, honor will be bestowed upon you – “The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life” (Prov 22:4).
The man who fears God is deeply revered and blessed by God. So, yes, the fear of God can be both an internal posture and outward manifestation.
Do you fear the One who created you?
“Subjection is the act of a ruler to force obedience. He uses fear or force or intimidation to break the will of the people so they eventually surrender to him. They give up and wave the white flag. They’ve been conquered. They are not in subjection to this leader. Submission is the act of someone who acknowledges legitimate authority and willingly arranges himself or herself accordingly. Submission is voluntary, never force. It is responding to the divine order of things first in the heart and then in life.” (“It’s Submission, Not Subjection”)