Few of us today have any meaningful connection to the sources of our food and the other products we consume. Most meet their daily needs, and much more, with the scan of a barcode, a click, or a swipe on a phone. If you want it, you get it—and often right away.
With the instant gratification of our age, we can easily lose sight of all that goes into the supply chain of our sustenance, the ultimate origin of which is God Himself. He is the one who “provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). James further tells us that “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).
The Bible tells us repeatedly that “the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8; 100:5; 135:3; 145:9; Jer. 33:11; Lam. 3:25; Nah. 1:7; 1 Pet. 2:3). He is the summation and very definition of what is good. In fact, God is goodness itself. We say with the psalmist, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you” (Ps. 16:2, emphasis added).
The Bible tells us repeatedly that “the Lord is good.” He is the summation and very definition of what is good. In fact, God is
Because of His goodness, God overflows with limitless generosity. Unlike human beings, who often give with a mercenary motive, God gives without any prospect of return. In truth, we could not repay the Creator’s blessing in any sense, for, as He informs us, “The world and its fullness are mine” (Ps. 50:12). What could we possibly add that doesn’t already belong to Him? What’s more, God’s generosity is not constrained by what His recipients deserve. Indeed, His generosity consistently extends beyond what we deserve.
Our God is the Father of heavenly lights. He created all the planets and stars and set them in their place (Ps. 8:3). He doesn’t change. He’s not fickle. He doesn’t ebb and flow like the tide. Says A. W. Pink, God “cannot change for the better, for He is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse.”1 God is never simply reacting to our needs. He knows what we need more deeply than we do (Matt. 6:8), and it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us what He knows we need most (Luke 12:32).
The Gift of New Birth
Though we may be stubborn at times, humans are, by nature of our finitude, fickle and subject to change. But we still like to think that we know what we need most, even though we’re prone to settle for something that ultimately is paltry, like a bigger house or a newer car.
After James holds up God’s immutability, he points us to our most essential need: new birth. “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth,” he writes, “that we should be a kind of firstfuits of his creatures” (James 1:18). This new birth is something God chose to do Himself. Unpressured by our helplessness and unimpressed by our supposed goodness, He acted in accordance with His sovereign will to grant us new life in Christ.
Unpressured by our helplessness and unimpressed by our supposed goodness, God acted in accordance with His sovereign will to grant us new life in Christ.
When we first become Christians, it appears that we have everything to do. Perhaps a loved one explained the Gospel to us, and then we asked, “How does that become real in my life?” Perhaps they responded, “You need to turn away from sin and turn to God in faith—in childlike trust. You need to believe in Jesus; you need to receive Jesus.” Sometime later, we may have thought to ourselves, “You know, it seems like we have to do everything!” But later still, when we put the pieces together, we discover that our choice of Him is predated by His choice of us. He chose us at His own initiative.
Second Corinthians 4:6 tells us that in the same way God spoke forth light at its creation, so He speaks and opens our souls to the beauty of Jesus Christ: “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” As they old hymn puts it, “He speaks, and listening to His voice, new life the dead receive.”2
His Good Pleasure
Out of the overflow of His goodness, God “made the world and everything it” (Acts 17:24). Out of an abundance of His grace and mercy, our unchanging Father called us “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). We possess no good thing—whether material or spiritual—that we have not received from our heavenly Father’s benevolent hand (1 Cor. 4:7).
God dispensed His great love to us first, and only after we have received it from Him can we expect to give to others (1 John 4:19). In fact, it is God Himself who works in us and through us as we live to love Him and others in all that we do (Phil. 2:13). Such a high calling will rarely prove easy, but thanks be to God that our source of love and strength is an inexhaustible fountain who will “supply every need … according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
This article was adapted from the sermon “The Goodness of God” by Alistair Begg.
1 Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1975), 37.
2 Charles Wesley, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” (1739).
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