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The Doctrines of Goodness
God is good! The Bible affirms this truth from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of the Revelation. God is good in His essential character—the impeccable standard of moral excellence. God is good in the providential benevolence He bestows upon both the just and the unjust. God is good in His redemptive work on behalf of sinners, enduring on the Cross of Calvary the rigors of substitutionary sacrifice, wherein He tasted death for every man! The fact that God is good made it inevitable that He would lavish goodness upon His creatures as an antidote for all the badness inflicted upon them by sin.
We will focus our attention upon the Greek word chrestotes, which is translated in the NT as “goodness”, “kindness”, and “gentleness”. It speaks of moral excellence with an inherent usefulness toward those who are impacted by it. Our purpose is to examine its usage in four different texts, and set forth an equal number of affirmations regarding the goodness of God. Let us call them The Doctrines of Goodness.
First, the scripture states that true goodness is totally absent in the unregenerate sinner. In Romans 3:12, Paul declared: “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Doeth good could be translated is practicing goodness or is practicing kindness. The point is there are no traces of chrestotes (moral excellence or inherent usefulness) to be found in fallen humanity. Its presence in the life of any man, woman, or young person must be attributed solely to the redemptive power of God’s goodness and grace.
Secondly, the goodness of God is akin to the grace of God. According to Paul, God raised us up together with Christ, and made us sit together in heavenly places, so that “in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness [chrestotes] toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). The kindness (goodness) of God given to us through Jesus Christ flows from the inexhaustible treasure trove of grace. Goodness and grace are two peas in the same pod! The man who says “God has blessed me with His goodness” could express the identical meaning with “God has graced my life!”
Thirdly, the goodness of God leads sinners to repentance. In Romans 2:1-5, the apostle Paul issued a stern rebuke to those who sat in judgment of others while committing the very same sins themselves. He warned the hypocrite that he shall in no wise escape the judgment of God, and then rebuked him for despising “the riches of his goodness [chrestotes] and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness [chrestos] of God leadeth thee to repentance.” According to scripture, God displays His kindness, tolerance, and patience toward the hypocrite (and all lost sinners) in an effort to lead them to repentance (i.e., to salvation by grace through faith). Leadeth is present tense, suggesting an ongoing activity on God’s part. God’s goodness is effectual when met with a faith response. But when met with a calloused heart that refuses to repent, the spurning of God’s goodness results in one “treasuring up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
The scripture teaches that God’s goodness is resistible in the matter of salvation. It is therefore a gross contradiction to declare that God’s grace is irresistible since goodness and grace are inseparable, and appear to be used interchangeably by Paul. Moreover, the treasuring up of wrath is the business of the sinner alone. God never bestows goodness upon a lost man for the express purpose of compounding the severity of his damnation, as some Calvinists teach! What God would lead a sinner toward repentance only to libel him at the same time by denying to him the very repentance that his goodness was intended to produce? That God does not exist within the pages of Holy Writ! Sinners libel themselves by despising the goodness of God!
Fourthly, the goodness of God manifests itself in Spirit-filled believers. The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness [chrestotes], goodness [agathosune], faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23). The word gentleness in this context is weighted toward the idea of kindness—a gracious God-like spirit founded upon moral excellence, rendering one useful in impacting the lives of others, especially in evangelism. Jesus was the embodiment of gentleness! Pulpits lacking in gentleness will eventually empty the pews! A marriage void of gentleness will likely end in divorce court!
Brethren, may God grant us both the wisdom and wherewithal to embrace The Doctrines of Goodness. O how we ought to praise God daily for the goodness that led us to repentance, and brought to us that which we could never possess outside of grace! Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!