The first attribute of God we will be discussing is His goodness. Why are we starting with the goodness of God? Well, it just so happened to be the first attribute brought up in our young adult’s Bible study. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone. Typically when asked to describe God the first characteristic that comes to mind is either His love or His goodness. Why would the goodness of God be one of the first attributes that come to our mind? Well, it is the one attribute that both leads to repentance (Rom 2:4) and excites praise in those who have experienced it. It is also the one attribute which unbelievers, given the reality of evil and suffering in the world, have the most difficult time accepting. There is nothing more polarizing than walking into a room and yelling out, “God is Good!” I dare you to try it.
The attribute of goodness is one which He shares (a communicable attribute) with us. The thing we need to keep in mind is that in God it exists without measure and without end. In Him, goodness is infinite, eternal, immutable, and functions in perfect harmony with all of His other attributes. To begin our conversation it is probably a good idea to define what we mean when we call God good. Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology textbook, defines the goodness of God as:
The goodness of God means that God is the final standard of good, and that all that God is and does is worthy of approval.
I particularly like this definition because it takes the ball out of our court when it comes to determining what is good. In a postmodern world where everything is relative, and there are no absolutes, it is a wonderful thing to have an absolute standard for something. God IS the gold standard of good (Luke 18:19). In other words we are not free to decide what is worthy of approval and what is not. All that He does is worthy of His acceptance, and by extension ours. Not only is God the standard of what is good, but He is the source of all good (James 1:17, Psalm 145:9).
There are plenty of scriptures which speak directly to the goodness of God, so much so that one would be hard pressed to come to any other conclusion. Goodness, in the scriptural sense of the term, is intimately linked to God’s benevolence, love, mercy, and grace. Although these can be classified as separate attributes, they are very much fruits of His goodness. If you take both the direct verses and those speaking of the fruits you will end up with a mountain of evidence pointing toward a God who is absolute in His capacity for goodness. I only belabor this fact because in times of trouble we might be tempted to believe otherwise. The weight of scripture informs our understanding that even in the midst of trouble God is good, and in the end those who love Him and are called by Him will see how He works all things together for their good (Rom 8:28). Here are some scriptures that speak of God’s goodness.
2 Chron 5:12b “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,”
Psalm 25:8 “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.”
Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 107:1 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”
Heb 12:10 “For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.”
James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
To Be Continued
More In The Series
9) Infinite God