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 CHIME IN THE DARK NIGHT

Since Halloween is approaching, I decided to file a repost of one posted on July 25, 2015.   I pray that you will enjoy reading this and that you will be encouraged to be a chime in the dark night of your family, church, community, country, and world.  The Christian voice needs to be a clarion call in witness to what our Lord has done for us.  

A Chime in the Dark Night

We are fortunate to live in a city that has an incredible symphony orchestra and, as a result, we have ready access to classical concerts, pops concerts, chamber music concerts, etc.  Last year we had tickets to the classical concert series.  I love to listen to the orchestra in a live performance – it is a real treat.  But I don’t know what to expect just from reading the advertisement for the concert.

We arrived at the theater and found that the program was three selections, all written in the 1800s by persons of whom I had no knowledge, given my relatively insufficient knowledge of composers and their works. The concert was in late October so the selections had a Halloween theme.

The first selection was A Night on Bald Mountain written by Modest Mussorgsky, a Russian born composer who was born in 1839.  The work is based on a Russian legend describing the witches who go to Bald Mountain the night before the feast of St. John the Baptist.  While there, Satan comes and it becomes a night of passion and frenzy.

used-halloween-costume-c-2
Grandson in Halloween costume.

The program notes included an explanation, written by the composer himself, detailing what to expect in the performance.

So far as my memory doesn’t deceive me, the witches used to gather on this mountain, gossip, play tricks and await their chief – Satan.  On his arrival, they, i.e., the witches, formed a circle around the throne on which he sat, in the form of a kid, and sang his praise.  When Satan was worked up into sufficient passion by the witches’ praises, he gave the command for the Sabbath, in which he chose for himself the witches who caught his fancy.  – So this is what I’ve done.  At the head of my score I’ve put its contents.

  1. Assembly of the witches, their talk and gossip.
  2. Satan’s journey
  3. Obscene praise of Satan and
  4. Sabbath.

If the work is performed, I wish this program to appear on the bills for the enlightenment of the audience.

 

[From the Program Notes by Ken Meltzer, The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra program for the concert on October 17, 2014 entitled Symphonie Fantastique, Sameer Patel, Conductor.]

The orchestral work ranged from fluid and enticing to frenetic and frenzied.  The entire orchestra was involved; violins, woodwinds, two harps, brass, and of course there was, my personal favorite, percussion!  What struck me, however, was that just before the end of the piece, chimes were struck, clear and sharp.  The chimes pierced the frenzy of the scene and peace came in their wake.

The program noted that

“At the height of the Sabbath, a distant church bell sounds.  The spirits disappear, and A Night on Bald Mountain concludes with the arrival of dawn, and the return of peace.

Sunrise (C)
Sunrise at Sea

I have attached this link to a YouTube post by The Wicked North which is a performance of part of A Night on Bald Mountain, this clip coming at the height of the Sabbath toward the end of the piece.  The YouTube clip is a little over 9 minutes long, but at 7:20 on the clip you will hear the change in the music following the ringing of the chimes.

 

As I applauded the skill and talent of our orchestra in its rendition of A Night on Bald Mountain, I thought of the symbolism in the music.  It was a beautiful reminder that our Lord is supreme.

We need to be reminded of this as, in our own country, innocent people have been killed, just in the past month, as they prayed in a Charleston, South Carolina church, as they did their assigned duties at the Marine and Navy centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and as they watched a comedic movie at a theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Clearly, Satan has his way in the world [Ephesians 2:2], but we know that the ultimate victory belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56:

“Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [ESV]

Oh that we would live our lives hearing the bell’s chime through the din of the world’s clamor.

Oh, that we would live our lives in a manner that we would be like a bell chiming out the love that the Lord gives us for this fallen world.

Oh, that when people meet us, they would see Jesus.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO WITH MENTORING?

Mentor.  Life coach.  Guide.

All these, and more, are terms we hear in our culture today reflecting the need for persons to come alongside younger, more inexperienced, people so that they can be taught and encouraged to persevere in their chosen endeavors.

According to Merriam-Webster, a mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person; a trusted counselor or guide, a tutor or coach.  The term comes from literature of ancient Greece.  In The Odyssey, written by Homer, Odysseus had an infant son when he went to war, and he was gone 20 years.  During that time, his son, Telemachus, was supervised and taught by an old and trusted friend named Mentor.  Thus, today, we use the word mentor to describe anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another, usually younger, person’s life.

 

Mentoring is discussed in Scripture as a way of life for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Titus chapter 2, Paul is advising the church about personal relationships within the church, i.e., mentoring:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Titus 2:3-5.

 

In thinking about what mentoring is, I realized that there is much more to it than meets the eye.  Yes, there certainly is an aspect of teaching to it, but there is also gentle guidance, attentive listening, and there is attention to the example that I am setting for others.  Indeed, mentoring is more “watch me and do as I do” not just “do what I tell you to do”.

 

So, what are some of the things that we can teach others?  Here are a few ideas.  I am confident that there are a host of other things, so please give some additional ideas for those who read this post.

At the office (C)
At the office working on the keyboard, just like you do, Dad!

 

The value of mental exercise and work.  When there is a puzzle about something, work it out … stay with it and keep thinking about it until you come up with a solution.  If there truly is no solution, then identify the way around the roadblock so that you can continue on toward the goal that you have set.

 

JDD playing keyboard
Making music and feeling happy with the sounds!

The value of music and of expressing yourself in ways other than speech.  Let music speak to you if you are emotionally drained, and let music reflect your feelings when you are elated!

 

Evans Day 041
Investigate and ruminate on what you see!

The value of being inquisitive and of exploring the world around us.  Think about something new every day.

 

Go cart with grandpa
Grandfather and grandson having fun together on the go-cart track!

 

The value of play.  Take time to do something fun and if you can share the fun with others, that is even better.  Also, take time to be alone and play, read, take part in some hobby, think about your goals and aspirations, learn who you are in the solitude of quiet time.

 

The value of relationships within the family.  Cherish the older generation and listen to the stories they can share about the relatives who no longer are with us, and about you when you were young!

 

graduation from kindergarten
Kindergarten graduation emphasizes the importance of learning and of doing well in school.

The value of an education.   College is not for everyone, but learning most definitely is!  Never stop learning and always cherish the opportunity to enlarge your mind without losing your focus!  Keep up on the news.  Read fiction for fun and non-fiction for fun and to expand your outlook and perspective.  Study and learn daily, even if you are not “in school” – there are always lessons to be learned if we keep our spirits attentive!

 

 

Garden - Monticello
The vegetable garden at Monticello, Virginia. Beautiful and well maintained, and thus it is productive!

 

Plant something, even if it is only a few flowers in a pot.  Watch God work in His nature as they grow and bloom, providing food and beauty for you.  [But, don’t forget to water it! J ]

 

The value of setting a goal and working hard to reach it.  Once you have identified the goal, then go after it, even if it is a tough climb!

 

Falling off
Falling off the rock, with the risk managed by the rope!

The value of taking risks, while being responsible in how you do it.  Be prepared to fail, but try to minimize the damage if failure does occur.   And, remember that failure does not have to be permanent, unless you let it define who you are; it might just be a setback from God which is designed to redirect your focus to get you on the path that He has ordained for you.

 

Cannon at Jamestown
One of the cannons on the battlefield at Jamestown, Virginia.

The value of restraining your anger and providing a peaceful resolution to difficulties.

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Proverbs 14:29

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 19:11

 

Bible
The Holy Bible, God’s Word to us for our edification, training and instruction in righteousness.

The value of honoring the Word of God.  Read God’s Word every day, think about it and learn it.  Study it and learn it so that it is not just in your head but also in your heart.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

A child once told his father that he knew what the Bible was:

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

 

Church with steeple
Church with steeple stands as a reminder throughout the week that worship occurs here. “Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” I Chronicles 16:29.

 

The value of sharing your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Invite others to church with you.  Take your children to Sunday School and church and attend with them, don’t just drop them off for a free babysitter!  We cannot give anyone else salvation; that is a work of God through the Holy Spirit.  But, we can testify to others about who Jesus Christ is and about our relationship with Him as our Savior.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:8-11.

 

Mentoring – a Scriptural activity that is worth our time and attention.

 

Father, I pray that you would lead me as I contemplate mentoring.  I read your Word that this should be done, and I pray that you would guide me as I reach out and seek to honor your Word.  Forgive me when I have ignored your prompting to do this in the past, and give me strength and wisdom to move forward in Your strength through the Holy Spirit, for Your honor and glory alone.