Is God really good!

Introduction

On a beautiful Sunday morning, as you walk through a place of meeting you hear the sound of birds, drum beats, hands clapping and electric instruments, then the famous statement, “God is good” says the convener, and the congregation will normally respond, “all the time! and all the time God is good,”

This is one of the most frequently used statements within the Evangelical and Charismatic circles. Often, you will hear a church service leader shouting “God is good,” and the congregation responds, “All the time.” Sometimes a preacher recites the same statement in the middle of his sermon. This has become a statement for a feel good moment, as much as there is much truth in it; however, there is an underlining misconception in its application.

This article aims to help Christians see the biblical truth and the faithfulness of God in this statement, “God is good”, and it calls Christians to apply its true meaning in a God glorifying manner.

The misconception                                                            

Many use this statement in the moment of achievement in their lives; when there is a material blessing, graduation ceremony, wedding ceremony, promotion at work, or when circumstances in life are well. In those moments, people shout with joy, and excitement, “God is good”. And frankly, they only perceive God is being good to them in that moment. The implication of that thinking or shouting is that God is only good when everything is good. However people ignore the meaning behind the other part of the statement “all the time.” As we see in Ecclesiastes 3.

Moving from the streets, or and wedding halls, let’s move into cathedrals of the church and one would expect that the church will get this right. But lo and behold! This has become like the slogan of the day;

 It is used to excite the church today; unfortunately less emphasis is put on the true meaning of the statement, “God is good all the time”

This is born out of the deficiency on the attributes of God within the church, by both the members and the men standing on the pulpit. As a result when members face moments of adversity, and when things are falling apart, the statement “God is good! All the time!” becomes a contradiction, instead the kinds of questions they will ask are, “why me God?” or “Where are you?” and “if you are good, why are these bad things happening to me, a good person?” or why is Satan doing this to me?

Understanding the statement

Let me admit that, these questions might be natural reactions to the overwhelming circumstances of our adversities.   Knowing that God is good at all times can bring about two remarkable traits

  1. Comforting – it must be a comforting truth that is meant to be the anchor during the moment of despair, and this must lead people to rejoice in God even when things are not clear nor purpose understood of God in moments of difficulties. 
  2. It must bring about Contentment: when we say God is good at all times, it means that regardless of the circumstances, the goodness of the Lord is steadfast at all times.  “The LORD is good; a stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7, ESV, and when we have little or more, going in prosperous mean or humble means as with Paul see Phil.4:9-20).

Therefore, one way in which we can correct the misconception of this statement is through the lens of Scripture. Paul says in Romans 8:28 that, “…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This reveals the truth that all things whether bad or good, work for our good, even the most outrageous calamity. And this is the correct understand of this statement.  

To clarify this truth, let us look at two men who lost their properties and children and only their wives survived, one is a man who live in the late 18th century and the other lived in the patriarchal era of the biblical times.

Firstly, see what happened to the Spafford family

On November 21, 1873, the French ocean liner, Ville du Havre was crossing the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe with 313 passengers on board; among the passengers were Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters. Although Mr. Spafford had planned to go with his family, he found it necessary to stay in Chicago to help solve an unexpected business problem. He told his wife that he would join them few days later. About four days into the crossing of the Atlantic, the Ville du Havre collided with a Scottish ship. When he got the news that his family except his wife died in the accident, Mr. Spafford booked a passage on the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife, and Spafford wrote this grand hymn “ it is well” while on this journey. He says,

“When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot

Thou hast taught me to say

It is well; it is well with my soul”

And his wife said “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.”

The husband’s words “it is well” showed his understanding about the tragedy.

His words bring the real meaning of this statement “God is good all the time even when calamity strikes. He is faithful and in control. Oh! Lord give us the same heart towards you in all the circumstances.

Secondly, see what happened in Jobs family

When we look at the life of job there are many lessons we can grasp, but for the sake of this article let us focus on how the statement “God is Good, all the time”  and how this connects with the story of Job.

Job, righteous in the eyes of God, famous before men and before the courts of the heavenly beings, faced severe trials. Included in this was the loss of his children, possession. This was a massive recession and liquidation, led to bankruptcy in a single day. No man on the face of the earth has ever faced what he faced, his body was afflicted by boils, not even a medical aid cover would be able to sustain, neither medical doctors will diagnose the problem for it was of divine origin. All that overwhelmed him and his response to that was “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:22). 

Although, Job lost his children, servants and possessions, he remained faithful to God. He blessed the name of God and acknowledged that the Lord was in control (Job 1:13-14).  He recognized that in all circumstances God was faithful; he understood who God is: sovereign, Almighty, merciful and omniscient and ultimately good, and that, all the time He is Good (Psalm.90).

I believe that a right understanding of the attributes of God will lead us to strongly grasp the truth that God is good all the times.  Horatio G. Spafford and Job are examples for believers today in understanding the character of God and how we are to respond to trials in our lives.

Our understanding of the full nature and sovereign work of God helps us to trust in Him regardless of the circumstances. As it can be seen in Habakkuk 3:17-19, we get to understand that our joy in God should not only be subject to the circumstances around us, but even when things are well or not well.

HOW HAS GOD REVEALED HIMSELF TO BE GOOD

1. Creation of mankind – COMMON GOODNESS OF GOD

The common goodness o is the kindness and mercy of God available for all humankind and it does not last forever. The Lord rises the sun to both the just and the unjust; God provides rain for both the godly and the ungodly; all humanity benefit from the rainfall. (Matthew 5:45)

            God created the world with everything in it (Gen 1:1-27), and then He said, “lets us make man in our Image and likeness…” (Gen 1:27). Man was made unique above all creation; in Psalm 8:4-8 we see this truth unfold, and this is a staggering truth, for no one gives counsel to the Lord yet in his goodness, He made us in His image. From that point man enjoy sweet followership with God, but through the disobedience of one man (Adam), death enter the world (Roman 5:12). When Adam and Eve sinned they were naked and in shame they covered themselves with fig leaves (Gen 3:7), but God made a garment out of skin and covered them (Gen 3:21); again we see the goodness of God; they did not get what they rightly deserved which is physical death, instead an animal was killed to cover their nakedness; the innocent died for the guilt.

The Lord God has always been good to the nation of Israel, even when they were disobedient to Him and in many ways and almost impossible circumstances, God delivered them. We see that in the exodus from the land of Egypt until the conquering of the Promised Land, God was always good and faithful to them.

The common goodness of the God is for all humankind and it is momentary, but there is more to the goodness of God.

2. Redemption – SPECIAL GOODNESS

This is special because it is God’s redemptive goodness to whom he has called; only for those who believe in Jesus Christ, and this goodness is from everlasting to everlasting.

We see the Goodness of Good in His Son Jesus Christ. In that while we were sinners Christ died for us the ungodly (Romans 5:6-8). The Consequence of sin is death and eternal separation from God, but God brought us back to Himself by the death of His Son (1 Peter 3:18).

Paul in Roman 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  The redemptive work of Jesus Christ reminds us again of the goodness of God, for we did not get what we deserve (death).  Christ suffered and died to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18-20). Today we are not condemned because through Christ we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand (Romans 5:1-2).

For God so love the world he gave his Son and did not spare His son but gave him for us (John 3:16, Romans 8:32). God was willing to crush His only beloved Son (Isa 53:1), let him go through the horror of Crucifixion to Redeem sinners. On the cross Jesus cried to the father “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), and said “It is finished” (John 19:30), confirming the redemptive work. 

What more is there for us to understand the rich and the Goodness of the love of God? This truth should lead us to understand the Goodness of God in all circumstances.  For He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32).   In the person of Christ the fullness of the goodness of God is revealed. May we find comfort in Him and compel our hearts to make the statement God is God all the time a reality. This Goodness is forever and it is only available for those who would accept his gift.

People say “why do bad things happen to good people?”  Actually the right question is why do good things happen to bad people?  And that is what God has done for us through His son Jesus Christ, reconciling his enemies to Himself (Romans 5:10).

God is good; His loving kindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100:5). We can see the goodness of God in these two (2) events: creation of mankind and the redemption of mankind.

Therefore, whether, you are in agreement to these two points or you are not, I have one chief truth, and that is “God is God and He is in control.”

 I have no wisdom of my own in this regard and as such I would like to consult the dead who are still speaking; one man who has gone to be with the Lord, a faithful minister of the gospel, by the nameCharles Haddon Spurgeon preached his sermon from Matthew 20:15 saying:

There is no attribute more comforting to His Children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that the sovereignty has ordained their affliction, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their master over all creation-the kingship of God over all the works of His own hands-the throne of God and His right to seat upon the throne

That must be our conviction, knowing that God is sovereign, He is in charge so that we must stand firm amidst all the circumstances. When there is an understanding that God is in control of the circumstances in your life, it leads a person to trust God. Jerry Bridges says:

Rather than being offended over the bible’s assertion of the sovereignty of God in good and in calamity, believers should be comforted by it. Whether our particular calamity or adversity may be, we may be sure that our father has a loving purpose in it. God’s plan and His ways of working out His plan are frequently beyond our ability to fathom and understand. We must learn to trust when we don’t understand”.

Knowing that our God is in absolute control of all circumstances should result into praising and magnifying the goodness and greatest of our great God. He is good in all circumstances (all the times) and in absolute control; all the times indeed He is God. He is not subjective to circumstance; He is in charge, and this is a great encouragement for those who become His children through Christ (John 1:12). This gives assurance in that regardless of the circumstance, God’s purpose will prevail. James tells believers in diaspora saying “Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds…” (James 1:2).

Come and see the goodness of God

Maybe as you are reading this, this is still strange to you! You might still not see the light of the goodness of God. If you have been listening or reading carefully you would have observed that the goodness of God follows from his character. Therefore, if one does not see and know God, then his goodness may fade too. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). The end of your blindness has come to an end. Your “warfare is ended, that her [your] iniquity is pardoned” (Isaiah 40:2).

Conclusion

This statement is not merely based on emotions. But, it is a reality of the Character of God. Knowing that God indeed is good, sovereign and that he causes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust, and the rains to fall on the just and unjust, more specially, He gave us His only son; this should cause us to rejoice in God and boldly say: “though you slay me still I will worship you.” Therefore, let us rejoice, for the goodness of the Lord is from generation to generation. May we say this with the right biblical understanding that yes indeed our Great God is good all the time to the Glory and Praise of his Great Name. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1).

On the other side, the goodness of God, may appeal to you as merely good luck to you. And thus, the real question is, ‘Are you experiencing the goodness of God?’ Oh reader, come to Christ if this is not true of you; accept him as your Savior and Lord, and you will be saved.

Bibliography

  1. https://www.staugustine.com/article/20141016/LIFESTYLE/310169936
  2. https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/trials-job/
  3. The Attributes of God by Arthur W. Pink.
  4. Trusting God even when life hurts by Jerry Bridges.

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