Why is God good?
How do I know God is good?
This has been the theme question of this past week as I have been fashioning my final belief statement of Foreknowledge, Election and Predestination. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, they essentially mean this:
Foreknowledge- God knows everything before it happens; nothing that has ever happened has been a surprise to God.
Election- God’s sovereign and righteous choosing of certain people to be his own through Jesus.
Predestination- God predetermining certain things for certain people, as well as certain people for salvation. Those people predetermined for salvation are called the elect.
Squirming yet? Hang in there. We are getting to God’s goodness, remember?
This past week at the Institute Chad Hampsch led our class headfirst into the book of Romans, which covers all three of these topics. Up until this past week I felt like I was always on an emotional roller coaster when it came to the book of Romans. If you’ve read it before, you’ll remember that chapters 8,9, &10, the ones that cover predestination, election and foreknowledge, have a tendency to rub people the wrong way. Some people even believe that these things challenge God’s goodness– that if He does elect some and not others, He mustn’t be the good, loving, merciful God we have always heard about. Chad shed a lot of light onto this letter that has forever changed the way I think about the entirety of Romans and particularly those 3 chapters.
Chad broke the letter down into these 7 major sections :
1. Introduction: Romans 1:1-1:17 #gospel=powerofGod #fromfaith4faith
As to be expected with any letter, Paul begins his letter to the Roman believers with a greeting. Verse 16 casts the vision for the rest of the letter. He writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” I love that Paul defines the gospel like he does! Imagine how that would look in a dictionary:
Gospel– (Gaw*spull) noun. The power of God for the salvation to everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Paul goes on to say in verse 17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed, from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Paul lays the foundation for the remainder of the letter, which is all about God revealing righteousness, not man finding it on his own.
God is good. His gospel is a manifestation of his goodness; it is his goodness in action.
2. Condemnation: Romans 1:18-3:20 #allhavesinned
Paul uses this section to let the Roman believers know that everyone– Jew and Gentile alike– is sitting in the same boat. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 3:23. The Jews in Rome, along with the Jews everywhere, believed that because they were God’s chosen people, they were good to go regarding salvation. Paul breaks the news to the Jews that salvation is a matter of the heart, not just of heritage:
“For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.” “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” Romans 2:28-29 & 2:1
God is good. God sees past the outward activities of man and sees to the heart.
3. Justification: Romans 3:21-5:21 #byhisgraceasagift
In this section Paul explains that everyone has sinned. Period. There is no distinction. Zero ifs, ands, or buts. Everyone has sinned, and therefore everyone falls short of the glory of God. It more or less took Paul 3.5 chapters to tell the Jews to get over themselves. Check it out:
“The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”
God is good. While we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
4. Sanctification: Romans 6:1-8:39 #It’saprocess
At this point in the letter Paul sheds some hope for the Romans. So far, he has broken the news to the Jews in Rome that they are just as much sinners as the next dirty rotten scoundrel (guess what, this still applies to all of us!) and to put the cherry on top, he told them that they can’t do any amount of works to change it… it’s grace, baby.
“For when you were slaves to sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 3:21-23
I love sanctification because it means that I get to be transformed and look less like me and more like Jesus every. single. day. That’s something to celebrate!
Here’s a great quote about sanctification:
“This life is not godliness, but the process of becoming godly, not health, but getting well, not being, but becoming. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed.”
– Martin Luther
God is good. He carries out and will continue to carry out the good work he began in me until completion. (Philippians 1:6)
5. Restoration: Romans 6:1-11:36
This section of Paul’s letter holds the dense material. While this section of the letter deals primarily with Israel’s reception of the gospel, chapters 8-10 have a bit of a reputation independent from the rest of the letter. In chapters 8-10 Paul addresses God’s sovereign choice, also know as Predestination/Election. This topic is so controversial because some people think that it is unfair of God to predestine some for salvation and not others, specifically when in context with the Jewish nation and the Gentile nations.
Here’s what God has taught me this week in less than a nut shell:
Man has destined himself/ we have destined ourselves to eternal condemnation in Hell because of our sin. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23) By our sin we have earned death, I have earned death; there’s nothing else to say about it. Man as a whole is hell-bound unless individually predestined by God otherwise.
Therefore, the fact that God would predestine anyone for salvation is an act of mercy, divine, unmerited mercy and grace.
So when someone argues that God is not “fair” because of his predestination, I encourage you to humbly, yet confidently, refute his or her argument by reminding him or her that God is Holy, just, loving, merciful and entirely perfect, and if we got what we deserved, what we earned because of our sin, we would all be toast. And it would, in fact, be entirely “fair” of God to give us exactly what we deserve.
Paul sums up this tense section with a rich little 4 verse conclusion:
“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? for from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Romans 11:32-36 #preach
God is good. He withholds the fullness of what we deserve while on earth. (John 1:16)
6. Application Romans 12:1-15:13
Paul concludes his letter to the Romans with several ways to apply what life should look like as a believer. Three of my favorites are:
12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
*bonus* 14:7-8″For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. SO then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
What a great reminder… I am the Lord’s. We are the Lord’s. And the Lord is good.
Going back to the question that I had at first, ‘Why is the God good?’ or ‘How do I know that the Lord is good?’
I know that the Lord is good first and foremost because his word tells me that he is good. (Psalm 77:13, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 135:3) His word is truth (John 17:17, 2 Timothy 3:16).
Therefore, God is good regardless of whether or not I ever see evidence of it because his word tells me he is. HOWEVER, I get to see this truth confirmed every single day, and I have gotten to see a wealth of evidences through the study of Romans.
If anyone would like footnotes/ verse references for any of the claims throughout this, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s to laughin’ at ’em,