Why are we still on the issue of a good God when we are looking to memorize Psalm 119? In Teth, we see in verse 68 that the psalmist has made a claim about God: God is good, and all that he does is good. We’re looking at how that works when all we see is violence, war, death, disease, and evil in all its manifestations. What role does Jesus have in God’s plan? Who is this Jesus that is supposed to be the Good News for the world?
Chaining off from my last post, where we learned that the charges against God’s goodness stemming from the Old Testament fail to account for his restrictions on evil (even now!) and his warnings that all evil will one day come to an end. We may be seeing the beginnings of that Day even as we speak. God is good because He has restricted evil out of His mercy, and He has warned us so that we may escape the coming judgment. In order to understand this more, we need to look at who was on the cross.
The Triune Nature of God
Bear with me. The word “tri-une” means “unity in three” or “three in unity”. Jesus claimed something about Himself that no one else on the face of the earth has ever claimed. He didn’t just claim to be God’s Son the way you and I think of father and son. Jesus claimed to be “one” (united; the same in essence) with the Father.
“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
This doesn’t mean that they are just agree with each other in concept. It means they are the same person.
Jesus had to be sinless in order to satisfy the requirements of the atoning blood sacrifice (death by the shedding of life-blood). Why? We understand that the guilty can’t save the guilty. We humans are guilty because we sin. Once symbolized by the shedding of the blood of a spotless (pure) innocent (sinless) lamb, the coming Messiah, the Promised Redeemer of mankind, had to be sinless and human. Tempted and experiencing life fully in every way that we experience life (intellectually, physically, emotionally), Jesus never slipped up, never did evil, never entertained evil in his heart. Jesus was born in the normal manner with the human DNA of his mother, Mary.
But the sacrifice had to also come from the Judge Himself. Only a judge who represents the Law can clear a guilty man of his charges and set him free. And we see that setting the guilty free requires that a price is paid or that would be unjust. Therefore, the coming MEssiah would be born of the seed (DNA) of woman (Eve, through Mary) and yet the Messiah would also be of the same essence as the Holy LawGiver in order for the sacrifice to be acceptable. And the Messiah would have to be sacrificed with the same punishment of both physical and spiritual death and separation from God. That Messiah was the Jewish Jesus, and the punishment was suffering and unjust death on a cruel Roman cross of execution.
Jesus was fully man, being born of a virgin (Mary), and fully Divine, being conceived by the very Holy Spirit of God.
Here we have three essences of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each distinct and yet all three having the same self-ness, the same essence and Personality. He that has seen the Father has seen the son, and he that has seen the Son has seen the Father. The Holy Spirit of God testifies to both the Father and the Son.[i]
Jesus was sent to show us the Father, who is invisible to our earth-bound vision. When we read of Jesus’ life, we are seeing the nature and character of the Father. When we fall in love with a wise and kind (and logical and powerful and authoritative) Jesus, we are, whether we know it or not, falling in love with the Father as well. Let me say that again:
We all agree that Jesus was “a good man”, but Jesus Himself points out that “No one is good, but God” (Mark 10:18-21). If Jesus is good (we are speaking here of pure goodness), then the Father is also good. Since God and Jesus share the same Personhood, if God is holy, then Jesus is holy. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are holy and good.
We say Jesus “is” because Jesus resurrected from the dead, defeating the powers of the curse of sin and death, and lives today, seated at the right hand of the Throne of God in heaven.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit was sent at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-31) to live with and empower us to do far greater things in His Name than Christ did on earth (John 14:12). The Holy Spirit confirms all that Jesus taught. The Holy Spirit is our “safety deposit” that when we believe in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, and we commit our lives to live for Him instead of for ourselves, we have the life of the Father through the Son and by the power of His Spirit living in us.
He guides us, convicts our hearts of ongoing sin so that we can turn from it daily and receive the forgiveness Christ purchased for us on the cross.
He comforts us in our afflictions, and gives us the power to overcome our trials and to grow in Christlikeness more and more as we life this life.
And it will be the Holy Spirit who brings us safely to the arms of Christ upon our physical death, such that our spirits pass from life to eternal life. This is the promise of God vouchsafed in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to all who believe!
The Holy Spirit is our “safety deposit” of the Father’s loving presence until Jesus comes again to judge the earth in His Holiness.
The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit, the same Spirit that descended in confirmation of Jesus at his baptism. At that time, God’s voice was heard and recorded: “This is my My Son, My Chosen One: listen to Him”.[i] At the time of Jesus’ baptism, God revealed Himself as a self-confirming unity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. When God said, “Listen to Him!”, God was telling us (and still tells us) that to hear Jesus is to hear the Father. And the Spirit of God attested to this truth by His presence and power to sustain and strengthen Christ for the mission ahead. Jesus suffered as we suffer through his wilderness trial toe-to-toe with very evil itself, his life ministry of Self-Revelation to mankind, and His atoning death and the power of His resurrection. If we believe ourselves to suffer, He suffered more. He knows our pain, not just intellectually, but experientially. He went through it in order to end it for ever.
Experiencing the Presence of God
I have suffered, and I still suffer. You do, too, or you wouldn’t have read this far. But I also have known the very near presence of the Lord’s Holy Spirit, walking with me all the way. I have bad days where evil overwhelms me, but I always have the solace of God’s Word at ready reference. In it, God reminds me of the Promise that to some extent in my personal circumstances now, but most fully and completely one Day, evil will have its recompense. Evil will not have the last word.
I have the assurance that my Savior is interceding for me before the Throne of God, even as I walk through this shockingly traumatic life. That knowledge gives peace “that passes understanding” (Philippians 4). Knowledge goes hand-in-hand with experience.
The Word of all creation (the natural world) is telling us with awful clarity that His Word is true. It speaks truth. If it speaks truth about evil, it speaks truth about the reality I see all around me, it speaks truth about myself and mankind in general, and it also speaks truth about a Good God. As we step out on that knowledge and prudently place our allegiances with that truth, we will begin to feel and experience the truth as well.
Have you never experienced tangible God’s nearness to you? Have you never experienced God’s love? I would ask the question: Have you never trusted His Word by knowledgable and willing faith?
All is not well in this earthly life.. But here is the key: We have the “Word made Flesh” (John 1) and the written Word to help us remember God’s promises to us concerning the coming end of this present darkness and the hope of a Reconciliation, Redemption, and Restoration for those who believe and trust in Him, and indeed of all Creation..
In fact, it was upon reading Lamentations 3 at a certain time of my life that gave me hope and kept me from devastation. God gave words to the the despair of my heart. He let me know that He sees and He feels my pain.
Moreover, I began to see God’s pain more than my own. Truly, He grieved for all of Judah (cf. Judah’s time of earthly judgment had come), and He still grieves for all, not just for me. God’s cares about our separation from Him. God cares very much about our physical, emotional, mental and physical pain and impending death, and he offers to comfort us in our temporal afflictions, but He is more concerned for the sin that separates us from Him, and for the salvation of many who don’t even know they are free.. He longs to see us grow in becoming more like His Son.
My prayers undergo a shift from praying for myself to praying His prayers after Him. The prayer of Teth and of Job (and all the psalms) are GOD’s prayers. This changes things! God’s Word reminded me of Who He Is. He humbles me before the vastness of sin (mine and everyone else’s), and yet He raises me up to know Him and love Him and experience His love. God has a plan for my life in those prayers of His, and this gives my sorrow meaning and purpose. It lifts me from the self-pity of despair and sets me to work being useful where I can.
God’s Goodness Makes A Way Through Christ — Now
Right now, we live in an “Age of Grace”. We have been given this moment to decide to accept God’s Son as our Savior and live with Him in joy, worship and grateful glad service. Or, we can choose against Him and remain under the curse of death for sin. As in the Garden of Eden, we are given the power to choose submission and obedience and life, or rebellion, disobedience, and death.
As in the Garden of Eden, as in the Days of Noah, as in the Days of the Conquest of Canaan—as in our own days of war, disease, fear, anxiety, anger, hatred, and death—there is coming a limit to the patience and mercy of God. Now, God offers salvation from the curse of eternal death that hangs upon mankind.
Christ, the Promised Redeemer, has indeed come in the annals of this world’s history, and has completed the work God ordained from the beginning. The way to restoration with the Father lies open to us through the shed blood of Jesus the Messiah.
There is equal surety that it is this same Christ Who is coming again to judge the living and the dead[ii] and to eradicate evil completely and forever from this earth[iii] and to recreate this earth in restored holiness and joy[iv].
What will you decide?
Next Post: What Do You Think of God?
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[i] Luke 9:35. See also Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; and Matthew 3:17.
[ii] Acts 10:36; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; 1 Peter 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ecclesiastes 12:14
[iii] 1 John 3:8; Romans 16:20; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 19:11-21; Revelation 20:10; Genesis 3:15;
[iv] Revelation 21
[v] Ephesians 2:10; Jeremiah 29:11; Zechariah 3:7;
[vi] Psalm 46:1-3
[vii] 2 Corinthians 5:17; John 10:10;