About reveds

Occupation: Pastor, Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Lennox, SD Education: BS - Christian Education, Sterling College; MDiv. - Princeton Theological Seminary Family: Married, with Four children. Hobbies: Running (will someday run a marathon), Sci-Fi (especially Doctor Who and Sherlock), Theater, and anything else my kids will let me do.

The Goodness of God

Sometimes you try to communicate a powerful truth, only to do it a severe injustice in your presentation. Then, mercifully, God leads you to find someone who has put into words the very thing you were trying to say, but with such eloquence and sufficiency, you feel foolish for ever trying.

Last Sunday, I was preaching on the Goodness of God, and goodness in our lives as a fruit of the Spirit. I tried explaining how the very essence of God is goodness, and that everything that comes from God, and every dealing with God, is rooted in His goodness. I feel I fell short. Then, shortly after preaching, I came upon Wilhelmus à Brakel’s writing on the Goodness of God. It’s too good not to share. Enjoy:

Goodness is the very opposite of harshness, cruelty, gruffness, severity, mercilessness—all of which are far removed from God. How unbecoming it is to have such thoughts about God! Such sinful emotions are found in man. The goodness of God, on the contrary, is the loveliness, benign character, sweetness, friendliness, kindness, and generosity of God. Goodness is the very essence of God’s Being, even if there were no creature to whom this could be manifested. “The good LORD pardon every one”  (2 Chr. 30:18); “Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will He teach sinners in the way”  (Ps. 25:8); “There is none good but one, that is, God”  (Mat. 19:17).

From this goodness issues forth lovingkindness and an inclination to bless His creatures. This is to the astonishment of all who take note of this, which explains why David exclaims twenty–six times in Ps. 136, “For His mercy 15 endureth for ever.” In the following texts we read likewise. “Also unto Thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy”  (Ps. 62:12); “All the paths of the LORD are mercy”  (Ps. 25:10). From goodness and benevolence issues forth the doing of that which is good. “Thou art good, and doest good”  (Ps. 119:68); “Rejoice the soul of Thy servant: and attend unto the voice of my supplications. For Thou Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee”  (Ps. 86:4, 6, 5).

This goodness is of a general nature in reference to all God’s creatures, since they are His creatures. “The LORD is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works”  (Ps. 145:9); “The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD”  (Ps. 33:5); “For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust”  (Mat. 5:45). The goodness which is of a special or particular nature as it relates to God’s children is thus expressed: “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart”  (Ps. 73:1); “The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him”  (Lam. 3:25).

This goodness of God is the reason why a believer, even after many backslidings, is motivated by renewal to return unto the Lord. “The children of Israel shall return . . . and shall fear the LORD and His goodness”  (Hosea 3:5); “But I have trusted in Thy mercy”  (Ps. 13:5). This is why they call the Lord “the God of my mercy”  (Ps. 59:10, 17). In this goodness they rejoice and this goodness they magnify. “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever”  (Ps. 89:1); “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever”  (Ps. 106:1).

 à Brakel, Wilhelmus. The Christian’s Reasonable Service and 2. Vol. 1. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1993. Print.


Stand Firm in the Truth

When you live in a day where the prevailing philosophy tells you there is no such thing as absolute truth (an absolute statement if ever there was one) it is hard to know where to stand. Everyone is encouraged to claim “their truth,” but that only ends up in chaos, because what is true for you might not necessarily be true for me. We’re left with Pilate asking, “What is truth?”

There are certain truths passed along in your education that you can bank on, and don’t have to rediscover for yourself. Pythagorean’s Theorem, for example, used in finding the longest side of a right triangle, A2 + B2 = C2. There’s also Newton’s Third Law of motion, which seems to apply in every realm of life: for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.

There are also shared truths, or axioms, that you come to learn through experience. One that I learned early was, “broken people do broken things.” The venomous, toxic and hate-filled people you encounter in life are often unhappy in their own lives, and their lips show the overflow of their hearts.

I recently came across an interview with Tom Hanks, when he said that one truth he wished he would have known this earlier in life was: “This too shall pass.” When you’re feeling down, defeated or bad about yourself, remember that “this too shall pass.”  When life doesn’t seem great, work is challenging, or your personal life is challenging, remember that with hard work and discipline it will change and get better. All of this is momentary.  When you’re feeling good about yourself, your personal life is great, business is amazing, feeling on top of the world, guess what? “This too shall pass.”Sometimes we feel like we have it all together, then the next, we feel out of control and like things are falling apart. Both those feelings will pass. That’s why it’s good to stay confident during challenging times, knowing that you’ll work your way through it. On the flip side, when things are going well and you feel on top of the world, remember to stay humble. That too will pass, and you’ll be wondering where all the answers are.  

More that these scientific theorems and axioms of life, there is a greater truth upon which you can build your life: The truth revealed in God’s Word. Here are just a few:

  1. There is a God, and it’s not you. There is an Almighty God who is sovereign, gracious, good, faithful, and true, righteous in all his deeds. There is a center of the universe, and it is not you. God’s ways are higher than our ways, His wisdom is not ours. But God has made himself known to us in His word, and the Bible reveals all we must know for our salvation
  2. We, as God’s creation, have fallen from God in our sin, and are deserving of God’s righteous anger and wrath. Romans 3:23 tells us, “All have sinned and fall from the glory of God.” Also we read in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”
  3. God loves and saves His people from sin and wrath. In John 3:16 “God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have everlasting life.” Jesus came to demonstrate the love of God (Rom 5:8), and to show us how we are to love one another (John 13:33-35). The love of God was seen from the very beginning of the story of salvation (Gen 3:15; Deut 4:37; Isa 63:9), but His loving-kindness appeared in full in Jesus (Titus 3:4). 1 Timothy 1:15 “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
  4. We know that Jesus is the only way to salvation. 1 Tim 2:5 teaches, “There is one God, one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ.” Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one may come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And Romans 10:13 reminds us that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

These are just a few of the absolute truths of God’s Word, but this truth is the solid rock upon which we can build our lives. All the world may be like shifting sand, but this truth, the truth of Christ, is the very rock that will never be moved. Build your life upon Him!