You see two people and you hear one say, “God is good…” and the other one finishes it with, “all the time.” Then in unison, they may say, “God is good all the time.”
Have you ever heard two people say this phrase? What’s that even mean?
What does it mean that God is righteous?
“God’s righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is Himself the final standard of what is right.” -Grudem
Easy enough to say, prove it.
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.”
In discussing Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham says to God, “Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)
This reveals God’s character. God did save the only righteous people there before dropping divine napalm on the rest. It’s harsh, but the next two months we’ll get into God’s jealousy and wrath. To set it up, we have to look at the standard of good He has.
“I have not spoken in secret,
from somewhere in a land of darkness;
I have not said to Jacob’s descendants,
‘Seek me in vain.’
I, the Lord, speak the truth;
I declare what is right.”
Psalm 19:8 tells us God speaks and commands what is right.
“The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.”
God’s righteousness means he treats people according to what they deserve. As a being of pure good and complete justice, he has to punish sin. Impurity cannot survive in His presence. To ignore sin is not just.
So this good God is going to send me to Hell because I can’t measure up?
This good God provided a way for you because He knows you will never meet His standard.
“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:25-26
Christ was punished on the cross instead of you because God has to deal with sin. Remember, Jesus is God, so God paid the price for your sin Himself. You only have to trust that God did that for you.
Sounds pretty good to me.
How is what’s right decided?
It’s determined by God’s moral character. That’s the final standard.
“But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”
“You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
“You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
“You know nothing”?”
This tells us about the power and sovereignty of God compared to us. In our minds, we’re usually the hero of the story. However, we are not writing this story.
We’re a side character with an essential role in this story. It’s a story of contrasts, of power, justice, and goodness. Or is it?
Consider this, if God was righteous but didn’t have His sovereign power, there would be no guarantee of justice.
Righteousness-power=no guarantee of justice.
If God has the power but not righteousness, we’d have a universe filled with despair. Like a universal Nazi death camp.
Power-righteousness=a universe of despair.
Be thankful God has both righteousness and power.
Next month, we’ll explore the confusing topic of God’s jealousy. How can that be good?
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Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
Chapter 13: The Character of God; “Communicable” Attributes of God Part 2