“If God told me to eat the dung from off the streets, not only would I eat it, but I would know it was good for me.” – Martin Luther
To me, this quote seems kind of silly. First of all, who uses the word dung? I guess that is the word of choice for feces in the 1500’s, but I digress. The statement is purposefully blunt and in your face; Luther is trying to make a point here. Luther so boldly says, no matter what God tells me to do, I can have faith that it is good for me. Even if it means eating the waste of animals.
Many of us have qualms with this statement. We look around at what is going on in the world and think, ‘Who said God is good?’ or ‘How come God isn’t showing his goodness now?’ In order to look at this truth of the Bible – that God is good – we must first examine some traits and truth of what God says about himself.
“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 ESV
God doesn’t change: “there is no variation or shadow due to change.” This verse reveals two important truths. First, God’s being and character never changes. Second, that there is no “shadow”, darkness, or evil in God. Hence, God is good. We learn from this verse that God is not only good altogether, but that He is consistently good. God cannot be anything but good, because anything opposed to goodness is contrary to God’s nature(if the topic of God’s omnipotence is hanging you up, read Kyle Hendrick’s last blog here).
God’s law reflects His goodness. God is not said to be good because he follows or adheres to some cosmic law outside Himself. In fact, the Bible says that God does adhere to a law, but the law He adheres to is the law of His own character. God always acts within His own character which is eternally and intrinsically good. Like we notice in the quoted verse above, God is not only the standard of goodness but he is the source of all goodness: “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above…”
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV
This is not only one of the most popular NT verses, but also one of the most difficult to comprehend. If God is able to make everything that happens to us work together for our good, then ultimately everything that may happen to us is good. We have to be careful about the word ultimately here. We cannot put evil things on the same plane as good things (genocide is not equal to love). Some of the life situations or events we find ourselves in may be evil (we cannot call what is evil good, and good evil). We will encounter injustice, hurt, pain, and many other evil things, yet God in His goodness transcends all! In His glory and power He is good, and works through even the dirtiest sins. We can safely believe, as Christians that God will work these sins, this evil, for our final good.
Post adapted from a chapter of R.C. Sprouls ‘Essential Truths of the Christian Faith.’