God is Good – Doctrine 101

Standard

Discussion:
a) Rom 8:28 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible that speaks of “good”. How can we truly see “all things” that happen in our life (even the things we feel are “bad”) as promoting “good”?

I think the key is understanding “good” as meaning “effective in fulfilling a purpose” — in this case, God’s purpose. God’s ultimate purpose is His glory, which includes our glory. Our glory in turn includes our happiness, but also includes our health, holiness, and honor — which may at time be at odds with our happiness.

b) What’s the difference between mercy and grace?

The usual definition is that mercy is getting less [bad] than we deserve, whereas grace is getting more [good] than we deserve.

Journal:
Thinking of the story of Eve in Gen 3:1-6, in what areas do you approve of
things as good which perhaps God does not call good? Unlike Eve, how will
you overcome temptations that you are facing where the enemy has been
trying to persuade you that certain things are good?

Written work:
Summarize the conclusions to the class discussion questions above.

Homework:
Read RCS #17 (incl. Bible passages).

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Doctrine 101: Learning about God
Worksheet 8 – God is Good

1. After listening to the lecture and reading the text, write down what the Bible means in its proclamation that God as good.

I think the key message is both our understanding of good, and God’s actions, flow out of His character, which is the ultimate standard of goodness.

2. What two aspects of God’s goodness does Sproul discuss in his fourth paragraph on p.49 (first full para., p. 50, PDF)?

His character and His behavior.

3. Sproul’s summary statements (pp. 50-51) include three diagrams about the law and God. What important points is Sproul emphasizing?

God is not under or apart from the Law, but (in some crucial sense) is the Law.

4. The final summary statement (#5) states that “God is a Law unto Himself.”

5. Is it good for a person to be a law unto himself? Explain your answer.

That gets back to the definition of “good”. 🙂 The short answer (IMHO) is that this means they are ruled only by their own character — beliefs, desires, feelings — rather than an external standard. For fallible humans, this is always risky, and frequently disastrous.

6. What does Sproul mean by this statement? (See .p. 49, the last paragraph; second para., p. 50, PDF).

For God, the only thing He could be (and is) accountable to is His own character.
7. Read # 1 “Who says what’s good” in your lecture notes again. What most important realization about good does this paragraph present?

Um, I’m not sure. The idea of good as “approval” seems pretty weak, as it reduces goodness to some sort of power relation. I think it stronger to say “God’s character is the ultimate standard of good, and His approval is the final measure of our goodness.”

8. Look at # 5 your lecture notes: How does a believer respond to the fact that God is good?

We recognize that everything we think of as good is just a shadow of God’s ultimate goodness, and that we need to submit ourselves to pursuing the latter (rather than settling for the former).l

9. What important distinction is Sproul making in the lengthy paragraph on p. 50 (the third full para., p. 50, PDF)?

That what happens to us is not proximately good (there is real evil here on earth), but it all works for our ultimate good.

10. Read Exod 34.6-7. Write down each word or phrase that points to the Lord being good.
Indicate how each is an indication of good.

  • compassionate: He desires what’s good for us
  • gracious: He gives us good things we don’t deserve
  • slow to anger: He will not punish us unnecessarily
  • abounding in lovingkindness: He overflows with good deeds
  • truth: He acts consistently based on accurate perceptions of what is good
  • keeps lovingkindness for thousands: He is committed to being good
  • forgives iniquity, transgression and sin: He gives us a way to escape from badness
  • will by no means leave the guilty unpunished: He protects goodness with judgement

11. How does Ps 100 put a value on God’s goodness?

God’s goodness is sufficient cause for exuberant, public, collective celebration — even to our own abasement (as sheep).

12. Of the Scripture references listed in Sproul [cf. Ps 25:8-10, James 1:17], which offers the most vivid expression of God’s commitment to good?

I’d go with the next one, Romans 8, as it discusses the planning and sacrifice He went through to be good to us.

13. Look at Rom 8.28-39. As Paul discusses the good the believer receives, what different ways of experiencing God’s good does he present?

  • Being called, justified, and glorified
  • Being given all things
  • Conquering through all things
  • Never being separated from the love of God
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