The Attributes of God – Goodness

Yesterday my family and I read in our after breakfast Bible reading time the section on God’s goodness in Chapter 12, “The Character of God: ‘Communicable’ Attributes (Part 1),” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994). God’s goodness means not only that all that He is and does is good, but also that He is the standard of good. Although some systematic theologies consider God’s love, mercy, patience, and grace with His goodness, Grudem considers them separately from it, and my family and I will do so as well. Here I’ll consider God’s love tomorrow and His love, mercy, patience, and grace the next day.

Many Bible passages affirm that God is good and/or the standard of good, including:
– “Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, and his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 106:1,etc., ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV).
– “And Jesus said to him [the rich young ruler], ‘No one is good except God alone'” (Mark 10:18).

Similarly many Bible passages attribute goodness to things that God does, including:
– “And God saw that everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
– “You are good and do good; teach me your statutes” (Psalm 119:68).

The Bible also tells us in many places, including the following, that God is the source of all good in the world and especially to His children:
– “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
– “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).

That God’s goodness is communicable in part to us should encourage us to do good ourselves, as many Bible passages including the following encourage us to do:
– “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:33-35).
– “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Critics of God’s goodness often raise the problems of the existence of evil and suffering in the world and of God’s threatening unbelievers with Hell. Grudem considers those problems in Chapters 16, “God’s Providence,” and 56, “The Final Judgment and Eternal Punishment,” of “Systematic Theology.” My family and I will consider them when we read those chapters and I’ll report here on our readings. I’ll also report here on the study of the problem of evil that the Life group that my wife and I attend is going to start later this week, guided by Randy Alcorn’s booklet “If God Is Good Why Do We Hurt?” (Multnomah Books, 2010).


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