ATTRIBUTES OF GOD – GOODNESS

Another one of God’s intrinsic attributes is His goodness. We read about it in the opening verses of the Bible where we read of creation done by God simply at the power of His words.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good.”

Genesis 1:3-4. 

Waimea Canyon Kauai mountains
Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii

This continued throughout creation and then, in verses 26, 31 we read: 

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

When the Triune God was done with the creative work on the sixth day, He looked at His completed creation and said not only that each of the component parts were good, He declared that “it was VERY GOOD” and that statement included mankind, created in His image, for fellowship and relationship with Him.  God is good, and we were created in His image. 

A short look at the newspaper tells us that we are not good, however.  Sin entered the world and contaminated that which God had created.  But sin did not change the character or nature of God.  He is still Good.

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 100:5

God is not good because it is attractive for Him to be so, and He does not strive after following some standard for goodness that is outside of Himself.  God IS good.  J.I. Packer says that God’s sovereign redemptive love is just one facet of God’s goodness. Goodness underlies virtually all that He does.  [J. I. Packer, Concise Theology, p. 46]

He is the Source of all goodness.  In other words, goodness is not an abstract concept – it is personal – it is WHO — it is God.  The only reason we know anything at all about goodness is because God, who created us in His image, IS good.

The Jews knew that to call yourself good was to take an attribute of God and apply it to yourself, something that was clearly within the definition of blasphemy, as is evidenced by Jesus’ response to the man in Mark 10:18 where He says:

“Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.” 

Goodness is one of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul identifies in Galatians.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” 

Galatians 5:22

Due to sin, we have no inherent goodness within ourselves.  But, the believer has the fruit of goodness due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is part of the Triune God-head and thus the Spirit has the same nature as the Father and the Son.  Since goodness is intrinsic to the Father’s nature, it is also part of the Holy Spirit’s nature, so that it is a fruit that will grow within the believer as we give more and more of ourselves to the Lord.

Dr. R. C. Sproul notes, in the Developing Christian Character, CD Teaching Series from Ligonier Ministries, that when God’s goodness is evidenced in our lives as a fruit of the Spirit, there is a new ability to appreciate excellence and beauty because it is evidence of the beauty, order and exquisite detail of God’s nature and character.

 We have already spoken of God’s joy in His beautiful creation. A further example of God delighting in beauty can be found in Exodus 28:2 where God tells the people how to make Aaron’s garments for use in worship:

 “And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty”.

Even though they were in the wilderness, God did not want the priest to be clothed with normal garments.  Exodus 28 details what was to be made, including what materials were to be used.  A very partial listing includes: blue, purple, and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen; two large onyx stones engraved and set in gold filigree; chains of pure gold; twelve gems for the breastplate – sardius, topaz, cabruncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, jacinth, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx and jasper – each one being put in gold filigree settings.  And there is much more!  Clearly, Aaron’s garments reflected God’s glory and beauty!

Another example God’s goodness is appreciation for music.  Music was an integral part of worship in the Old Testament. 1 Chronicles 15:28, 2 Chronicles 7:6.  David talks of making music and singing to the Lord in many of the Psalms.   Psalm 101:1, Psalm 92:1.

More recently, Johan Sebastian Bach [1685-1750] composed his music to give glory to God.  Bach wanted his music to point to the existence of God when, during the “Enlightenment”, people were arguing that man was the be all and end all and that God was unnecessary.   Bach himself said:

“Music’s only purpose should be the glory of God and the recreation of the human spirit.” 

Listen to “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” as composed by Johan S. Bach and performed by the Choir of Sommerville College, Oxford. 

God’s goodness is just one of the intrinsic aspects of His nature, it is one of God’s attributes.  Goodness is truly the foundation for all that He has done for us. We should praise Him continually for the mercy, grace, and salvation that has been extended to us through Christ our Lord, all because of His goodness.

A GOD OF BEAUTY!

Beauty.  Our culture seems to idolize the beautiful people.  Mega-dollar industries have been built on providing cosmetics, beautifying potions, exercise machines to make the body sleek, to name just a few examples, all for making people beautiful.  But what is beauty, really? Is physical beauty really what is important?

 

The Merriam Webster online dictionary [found at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/] provides one definition of “beauty” as “The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit; loveliness.”   I like this definition.

 

In his book, The Holiness of God, p. 196-7, Dr. R. C. Sproul states that God is the source of beauty.  Indeed, that beauty is one of the attributes of our Divine Creator.

 

God Himself is the ground of all unity and diversity, of simplicity and complexity. His very being is internally consistent and harmonious and proportionate.  In him there are no distortions, no disorder, no ugliness.  His voice admits to no noise or cacophony. The works of his hands are cosmos, not chaos.  Chaos is marked by disorder and confusion; it is manifest irrationally. The beauty of God is a sane and rational beauty in that his being is one of perfect sanity and order.  Insofar as the beautiful bears witness to these qualities, they bear witness to Him. … To cultivate an appreciation for beauty is to set our course to follow after the sublime Author of all beauty.

 

Appreciation for beauty is a consistent theme throughout the Bible.  The Old Testament Scriptures are particularly appreciative of the beauty of nature. God announced that creation was good in Genesis and, after the creation of mankind, the penultimate act of creation, God declared it to be “very good”!   Then, in Exodus we read:

 

Exodus 28:2 – “And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.”

These words were spoken by God when He gave the instructions and directions for the Tabernacle to be built in the wilderness and for the dishes and implements to be used, even down to the detail to be included on the clothing to be worn by the priests.  Note, God included as a characteristic of the holy garments that they are “for beauty”.

 

The psalms exhibit an appreciation for God’s handiwork in numerous passages.  Consider Psalm 8:1, 3-4:

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens. … When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

 

Psalm 19:1 states:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”

 

Psalm 104 describes God’s mighty work in creation noting that He set the earth on its foundations and going on to describe the individual parts of creation all under the umbrella of the prayer “Bless the LORD, O my soul!”

 

Listen to Brentwood Jazz Quartet’s rendition of “All Creatures of Our God and King” from their album The Best of the Brentwood Jazz Quartet.

 

Take some time to look at the pictures as you listen to the music, and then meditate on the following Scriptures.  Renew your sense of the beautiful and praise God for His wondrous works.

 

Yosemite 2011 WRM 095 Overlook of Kings Canyon National Park (C)
King’s Canyon scenic overlook, California, USA. Majesty and power reflected in the glory of creation.

 

Psalm 96:6 – “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.”

 

Sunset and clouds 3
Sunset and clouds show God’s pallet of colors!

 

 

Psalm 104:19 – “He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.”

 

Brook trees and mountain Oregon 2009 141
Mountain, trees and brook in Oregon, USA.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

 

Bath Abbey (C)
The door at Bath Abby in Bath, England. Craftsmen creating a beautiful place for worship of a God Who loves beauty.

 

1 Chronicles 16:29 [KJV] – “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”

 

Baby girl 1 month old
A baby girl, full of promise and beauty.

 

Proverbs 31:30 – Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

1 Peter 3:3-4  – Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear– but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

 

 

Ocean verticle sun going down
Sunset over the ocean, an acknowledgement that the day is over but the ocean continues to roar and churn, as ordained by our Creator God.

 

Psalm 104:25 – “Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.”

 

Schmerhorn building in Nsahville Symphony and choir ready to perform
The Schermerhorn Symphony center in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Orchestra and choir ready to sing a sacred concert to the glory of God in their performance of Dr. R. C. Sproul’s hymn collection “Glory to the Holy One”.

 

 

Psalm 104:33 – “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.”

 

Snowy tranquility (C)
Snowy tranquility. Snow blankets our surroundings and causes us to stop and cherish the silent beauty of God’s world.

 

Psalm 51:7 – Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

 

 

Father, I pray that my meditation is pleasing to You, for I rejoice in You and your Holy Name.  (Psalm 103:34)  I pray that these pictures, this music and these humble words would be used by Your Spirit to encourage and strengthen those who read this post.  I pray that You would use Your Word to speak to the heart and minds of those who encounter these passages of Scripture.  Father, I pray that You would be glorified in all things.

OUR CREATOR GOD — THE HOLY ONE.

Scripture tells us at the very beginning of Genesis that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. The six days of creation are all itemized in Chapter 1 of Genesis.

Light — and the light was good.

Dry land and the seas– and God saw that it was good.

Colorado mountains, where earth and sky collide.
Colorado mountains, where earth and sky collide.
Oregon ocean waves and beach.
Oregon ocean waves and beach.

Vegetation, plants and trees – and God saw that it was good.

Yosemite Giant Sequoia Trees
Yosemite Giant Sequoia Trees

Lights in the heavens – and God saw that it was good.

Super Moon in Mississippi.
Super Moon in Mississippi.

All creatures that move, in the sea and in the air – and God saw that it was good.

Hummingbird getting a drink for nourishment.
Hummingbird getting a drink for nourishment.
Florida Spiny Lobster seen in aquarium along Florida's coastline.
Florida Spiny Lobster seen in aquarium along Florida’s coastline.

All beasts of the earth and all that creep on the ground – and God saw that it was good.

Caribou with large rack in Denali National Park, Alaska.
Caribou with large rack in Denali National Park, Alaska.
Pet pooches are under His care too!
Pet pooches are under His care too!

Then, in Genesis 1:26-27, and 31, God said:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’   So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Everything that He had made was very good. Simply put, God’s creation is good and it gives glory to its Creator.

Looking at the creation of God, it is clear that beauty is an attribute of the Creator God. David speaks of it like this:

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4 [ESV]

God’s desire for beauty is also expressed in Exodus 28:2 where God is telling Moses what garments the priests were to wear when conducting worship before Him even in the wilderness tabernacle.

And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. [ESV] (The emphasis is mine)

A review of the construction of the tabernacle is way beyond the scope of this post, but it was clearly a pinnacle of beauty, shining with gold, bronze, silver, precious jewels for the objects to be used in worship, and even for the thread used to create the curtains. The directions were explicit and detailed, and they were dictated by God. Beauty is an attribute of our Creator. Read Exodus Chapters 25 through 40 and see the incredible detail God directed for the construction of His tabernacle.  Then remember where it was built — in the wilderness.  Clearly, this was not the most beautiful of places, but His tabernacle was to be beautiful because it was to reflect our God and one of His attributes, beauty.

Beautiful music and singing are also part of God’s creation and an expression of His beauty.   Way back when David was king, we read that he appointed the priests to sing a song of thanksgiving to God. Read 1 Chronicles 16 aloud, to yourself or anyone else who would listen, and your spirit will be lifted as you, through David’s words so long ago, praise the Lord for His wondrous works. Verse 10 of this chapter directs that we are to “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.”

This past Monday evening, we were blessed to attend a concert sponsored by Ligonier Ministries for the performance of sacred music entitled “Glory to the Holy One.”  The concert was held in Nashville, Tennessee.

Downtown Nashville at night.
Downtown Nashville at night.

The venue was the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, a beautiful building that is dedicated to the symphony.

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tennessee
The Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tennessee

The building was beautiful with marvelous craftsmanship evident throughout.

Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tennessee
Inside the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tennessee
The symphony platform was ready.
The symphony platform was ready.

Of course, the acoustics were incredible. The choir was extraordinary and the symphony was wonderful. But the music touched your soul, heart and mind.

The choir and symphony ready for the music to begin.
The choir and symphony getting ready for the music to begin.

Our seats were much closer to the musicians than I anticipated … we were IN the music, not just listening to it! This picture was taken while we were sitting in our chairs.

Superlatives are inadequate to describe the event. The words to the hymns were written by Dr. R.C. Sproul and the music was composed and conducted by Jeff Lippencott. Tears streamed more than once as God’s glory was extolled in music and singing. The words to the hymns were beautiful and poignant, detailing the journey of faith and culminating when we see Jesus face to face.  Here is one of the hymns entitled The Secret Place, the words are below the link for your reference.

Excerpt from music on soundtrack of GLORY TO THE HOLY ONE

Who dwells within His most secret place

Is never far from His blessed grace

‘Neath His great shadow all will be well

No better place now for us to dwell

 

Refrain

The secret place of God Most High

The shadow of our mighty King

The dwelling place where angels cry

Is where our praise will forever ring

 

Fear not the terror that comes at night

Nor flaming arrows by morning light

His truth is always our sword and shield

Against His power, all foes must yield

 

Refrain

 

A thousand fall now at ev’ry side

Ten thousand more may have yet to die

Yet plague and sword can

Ne’er kill the soul

His angels guard us now safe and whole

 

Refrain

 

Refuge and fortress for all who trust

No safer pasture for men of dust

‘Neath wings and feathers of Holy Lord

No great comfort can He afford

 

Refrain

 

I pray that these words and the music will be a blessing to you this day.

Father, thank you for the gift of music and for the talents of those who can create, compose, sing and perform such magnificent works to your glory and honor. I thank you too for the truth of the words of this hymn. No safer place can find us than when we are in your care, now and forevermore.