"The goodness of God endures continually."
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In some churches it is common practice for the pastor to say, “God is good all the time” and for the congregation to respond, “and all the time God is good.” The goodness of God is something that is universally recognized by Christians, but what do we mean by God’s goodness? And more importantly, how are we to understand this doctrine beyond mere church-service sloganeering?
When we turn to the Word of God we read the following statement made by Jesus: “There is none good but one, that is, God” (Mark 10:18).
So what is Jesus saying?
To begin with let's point out that God’s goodness is one of His Attributes. Now, someone might ask, “why does this matter?” Well, it matters because, as Louis Berkhof (a very helpful theologian ) has said, “God’s attributes are God Himself as He has revealed Himself to us.
Therefore we might say that to know God well involves knowing His attributes well – it is to know all about what God has chosen to say about Himself in the Bible. As Christians we want to know God because knowing Him is, according to our Lord, the possession of eternal life (John 17:3).
"God is great.
God is good.
Let us thank Him for this food.
By His hand we all are fed.
Thank you for this daily bread."
How does that child’s prayer begin? It begins with a declarative statement about God. It says, “God is great. God is good.” And far from being merely simple or childish words, we would note that the statement "God is Good" is deeply profound. (Imagine if God were not good!) We further note that this statement echoes the words of Jesus when He says in Mark 10, “God alone is good.”
So let's explore God's goodness further...
In the loci of Systematic Theology called Theology Proper, theologians classify the goodness of God as one of God’s moral attributes.
There are three of these moral attributes:
- The Goodness of God
- The Holiness of God
- The Righteousness of God
It is often thought that these three attributes of God are the most exciting ones. I mean this in the sense that they are exciting – or perhaps glorious is a better word – because when we compare them with ourselves they shine all the more brightly. That is to say, when I compare God’s goodness to mine, or when I compare God’s holiness to mine, or when I compare His righteousness to mine, I am struck by the majesty and glory of God. Why? Because He completely outshines me and I see just how perfect He is. So as we consider of God’s goodness we ask this basic question: How do I know that God is good, and what authority do I have to establish this fact?
From a biblical perspective, when we say that God is “good” we don’t want to reduce God’s goodness down to meaning that God is merely “kind” – though He is, of course, kind. But the Goodness of God , as used in the Bible, is a far broader concept than that. Let me quote to you once more from Louis Berkhof who said: “We speak of something as good, when it answers in all parts to the ideal.”
So for example you might say that your new car is “good” because everything about it perfectly meets your car-related needs. And so “in all parts” or in everyway it is ideal.
Berkhof continues: “…in our ascription of goodness to God the fundamental idea is that He is in every way all that He as God should be, and therefore answers perfectly to the ideal expressed in the word God.”
"We Speak of something as good when it answers in all parts to the ideal." -Louis Berkhof
We mean that in every way God is the ideal of what Godhood should be. And, this is (at least in part) what Jesus meant in Mark 10:48. And here's something else that is very comforting; it is because God is good in Himself, that He is also good for and good to his creatures – you and me.
Therefore, let us rejoice that the words of the children’s prayer are profoundly true.
God is great... and God is good.