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Doctrine of God - Goodness and Faithfulness Print E-mail
The Doctrine of God
Sunday, 16 March 2008

I. Introduction:

 We have spent several weeks now focusing on attributes that teach us of the greatness, or transcendence, of God.  His immutability, eternity, sovereignty, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, and wisdom all speak of the greatness and ‘otherness’ of God.  He is transcendent over all His creation.  Tonight, we shift gears a bit and will be spending the next few weeks on attributes that speak of God’s immanence, or His closeness.  Now it should be stated that this distinction of attributes based upon transcendence and immanence is not accurate.  In other words, we need to avoid the error of thinking that God is sometimes sovereign and mighty and sometimes good and loving.  No, He is God (all attributes included) all of the time.  He is loving and good and gracious in His sovereign, omnipotent reign over all.  I simply note the distinction because we need to labor in understanding His greatness (transcendence) and goodness (immanence) all at the same time.  I will speak more on this later in this series, but I wanted to begin with a few thoughts about it tonight as we look at God’s goodness and faithfulness.

II.  Baptist Faith and Message:

 We see implications of God’s goodness and faithfulness in certain statements in the B, F, and M.  First, in the general section, God is described as the “Redeemer” and “Preserver.”  Second, in the section on God the Father, it states that He “reigns with providential care” and that He is “all loving.”  Likewise, in the section on God the Holy Spirit, the B, F, and M affirms that “His (Holy Spirit) presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ.”  Thus, each of these statements imply the goodness and faithfulness of God.

III.  Passages:

 A.  Goodness:
  1.  Character:
   a.  Ezra 3:11- This phrase is repeated throughout the Scriptures and highlights both the goodness and the faithfulness (‘steadfast love’) of God.
   b.  Psalm 34:8- We are to taste the goodness of our God.
   c.  Mark 10:18- Jesus says that God alone is good.
  2.  Actions, Works, and Deeds (which flow from His character):
   a.  Genesis 1:31- Creation is good, even very good.
   b.  Genesis 50:20- God meant the suffering of Joseph for good.
   c.  Psalm 106:1-2, 107:1-3, 136:1ff- All of these psalms and many others      praise the Lord for all of His good deeds.
   d.  Jeremiah 31:10-14- The Lord promises to be good to Israel.
   e.  Romans 8:28- God is good even in the difficult things (see below).
   f.  James 1:17- All good things come from God.

 B.  Faithfulness:
  1.  Deuteronomy 7:6-11- The Lord is keeping His promise to Israel’s forefathers to bless them and give them the land (as we see fulfilled in Joshua).  He is faithful to His covenant with them.  We will see over and over again the connection between God’s faithfulness and His steadfast love.
  2.  Psalm 31:5 (see ‘steadfast love’ in v. 7, 16, and 21), 40:10-11, 89:1-8- All of these psalms speak of God’s faithfulness and His steadfast love.  They call us to praise our faithful God who loves us with steadfast love.
  3.  Psalm 119:75- This is not what we would expect is it?  How can the Lord afflict us in faithfulness?  In the context, it seems that the psalmist is referring to God’s correction through the law.  As those under the new covenant, we might say it this way: God is faithful in afflicting, or disciplining us, to make us more like Christ (see Hebrews 12:7-11).
  4.  Isaiah 49:7- The Lord will be faithful to His chosen people Israel to rescue them from bondage and despair.
  5.  1 Corinthians 1:9, 10:13- Paul speaks of the Lord’s faithfulness as our hope in defeating sin in our lives. 
  6.  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24- Our hope for being kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is in the faithfulness of God to persevere us.  We see the same idea in 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
  7.  Hebrews 3:1-6- Christ was faithful to the Father and continues to be faithful over God’s house as a Son.  Who makes us God’s house?  And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
  8.  1 Peter 4:19- When we suffer for doing the Lord’s will, we can take hope in the fact that we are serving a faithful Creator while doing good.
  9.  1 John 1:9- The Lord is faithful and just in forgiving our sins because of the     sacrifice of Christ.  Thus, we can take great hope in the fact that our sins will be forgiven when we confess.
  10.  Revelation 19:11- When Christ returns, He will be called Faithful and True.

IV.  Implications:

 A.  God is the standard for all goodness and all that He does is good.  We do not hold God up to some separate standard to see if He measures up.  No, He is the standard.  All things are measured by Him.  This is what Jesus is teaching us when He says: No one is good except God alone (Mark 10:18).  Likewise, we can also affirm that all that God does is good.  Of course, we may wonder: ‘What about the hard things?  What about suffering?  What about death and disease?  How is God good in these?’  I think the best way to answer these questions is to say that there is a sense in which they are ‘bad’ since they are all the result of sin and the Fall.  Yet, in another sense, we can say that God means good even in these difficult things of life (see Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28). 

In the book that we are studying in Barry’s Sunday School class, John Piper tells about the sermon that George Mueller preached at the funeral of his wife.  Based on Psalm 119:68, the sermon had three points: 1. The Lord was good, and did good, in giving her to me.  2.  The Lord was good, and did good, in so long leaving her to me.  3. The Lord was good, and did good, in taking her from me.1  I pray for the type of faith that believes in the goodness of God in all things.  I struggle to believe because I struggle to see, but isn’t that the call of faith in the first place, namely to believe when we cannot see?  I pray that we will learn to be like the description given in Jeremiah 31, that we will be radiant over the goodness of the Lord and satisfied with my (the Lord’s) goodness (v. 12, 14), whatever our circumstances may be.

 B.  God’s faithfulness is meant to give us great confidence and hope in His steadfast love.  We do not have to wonder if God will keep His covenants or promises.  We know that He will.  And we do not have to wonder if God will love His people, because we know that His love is steadfast.  We see this connection over and over again in the Scriptures to encourage the Lord’s people.  When things are difficult and hard, we can trust in the steadfast love of the Lord.  We can trust that He will be faithful to the New Covenant that He has established with us through the blood of Christ.  And as we look to the future, we can have full assurance that He will be faithful to keep us blameless for the coming Day.

V.  Christ and the cross:

 The goodness and faithfulness of God is overwhelmingly displayed at the cross.  The good that God does at Calvary is immeasurable.  Think about it.  Through the cross, through the substitutionary death of Christ for our sin, the Lord has given us the good gift of forgiveness.  Not only that, but He has done it without compromising His holy character.  As John says, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  How can He forgive us justly?  Because Christ has paid the terrible price for our sins at the cross.  The Lord was faithful to His promise to send a Redeemer.  And it is at the cross that the New Covenant is established with all those who will repent of their sins and trust in Christ.  And what is the significance of this?  This is the covenant that God has established with the Church, the covenant that guarantees our justification, sanctification, and glorification. 

The glorious doctrine of God’s faithfulness teaches us that He will keep this covenant.  Our hope is not built upon us and our character, it is built upon God and His.  As the old hymn says: “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  In our battle of day to day living, may we find great joy in the goodness and faithfulness of our God.  May we remember the great promise of Paul: Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  Amen.

1 Quoted in John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Grand Rapids: Multnomah Books, 2000), p. 183.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 April 2008 )

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