Friday, October 01, 2010

The Question of Goodness

An "Anonymous" blogger has been quite bothered by the blog post of September 21, 2010 entitled: What Yes on CA Prop. 8 & Restore Honor Rally Have in Common

You can read the comments at the link to catch up on the controversy.

In Anonymous' latest comment, he/she wrote:

Anonymous said...
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering ("without bending"-Vines); (for he [is] faithful that promised;)

"Without wavering" means "without bending". It is talking about picking up some other hope. Like picking up the hope of Glenn Beck instead of keeping Jesus.

1 Peter 1:3 ¶ Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

Our inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled and fadeth not away. Glenn Beck is not my hope.

September 30, 2010 9:47:00 PM PDT

My response:

Christinewjc said...
Anonymous @ September 30, 2010 9:47:00 PM PDT (That you, Sothenes?)

You seem highly bothered by this post. I thought that I explained WHY I included Dr. Garlow's article very well. It is NOT because I agree with his conclusion about Beck being a born again Christian. It is because the CAUSES that evangelical Christians, and Mormons, and Jews etc. see as important (e.g. the Prop. 8 issue and the need to restore out nation back to the Constitutional Republic that our Founders intended) are political/social/moral issues that we can all agree on.

You ended your comment with two sentences that I agree with - and I would guess most people who genuinely follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior would also agree with:

Quote: "Our inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled and fadeth not away."

Absolutely true.

Quote: "Glenn Beck is not my hope."

Beck isn't my hope, either! Jesus Christ is the only true hope in this world and in eternity.

October 1, 2010 9:57:00 AM PDT


One of the reasons why I cannot personally support Dr. Garlow's conclusion that Glenn Beck is genuinely saved is because:

1. Only God knows for certain - but we can "know them by their fruits."
2. Beck continually says that "most people are good."

But then again, I could be wrong.

Now, this post will not be an extensive expose' on "the question of goodness." That would take many pages. However, what I want to share here may help explain why what man regards as "goodness" within himself, may not be in line with what God describes as Good in His Word.

I realize that Beck's claim of people being good may be more of a socially acceptable, politically correct motivated comment which is meant to bring people together in a positive way. I mean, people DO good things in this life. However, the Bible says something very different about our "goodness."

Please see The Good Test in order to understand the details about our spiritual condition without Christ.

This week, I started reading Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God written by Francis Chan. I have only completed reading chapter one, but the message fits with this post.

Chan encourages us to stop talking at God for a while and instead, take a long, hard look at Him before you speak another word.

I read that section on Wednesday night. By Thursday evening, I was on my way, in traffic and in the rain, to pick up something that I would much rather have picked up on another day. The situation was such that I was told that I must get these items today. [Grrr....!]

During the drive, I said to myself, "If the person asks me 'how are you today?' I thought about saying, 'Do you want a typical response of fine or the truth about how I'm really feeling?'" I had a complete diatribe ready to be unleashed towards the unfortunate person who would be handing me the items that I really didn't want to pick up in the first place.

My trip already started out bad. First, the road to the freeway was jammed and backed up. Who leaves their house at 5:00 p.m. during rush hour traffic and expects not to hit traffic? Then, it started to rain again on the way there. Next, the sun started to break through the clouds and the glare into the car and on the wet pavement as I was driving west on a side road made it difficult to see. I proceeded to turn left again and traveled the speed limit of 25 mph around a park playground area. My final turn approached and I headed up the hill to my destination. I had just about completed what I was going to say in my mind, but became absolutely awestruck when I witnessed one of the most beautiful (and complete!) rainbows I have ever seen! I chuckled to myself. My heart melted my pride, anger, and annoyance that had built up over the 35 minute ride to my destination. I got out of my car and tried to take a picture of the rainbow with my old and crappy cell phone camera (small voice: complaining again, Chris?) Of course, I could not capture the beauty in a photograph that I was witnessing! A man approached and was saying how awesome the rainbow looked! He asked me my name and went inside to get the items that I came to pick up.

When he and an assistant came back out to the car to put the items in my trunk, he asked, "so how are you today?" "How is your family?" My planned diatribe turned into a confession that some individuals in my family were experiencing difficulty, but God is so good! Look at that rainbow! It is a symbol of His eternal promises for us."

God -- He's something isn't He??? He keeps teaching me every single day. That rainbow was a gentle reminder that I am slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to become angry.

Francis Chan writes:

The wise man comes to God without saying a word and stands in awe of Him. It may seem a hopeless endeavor, to gaze at the invisible God. But Romans 1:20 tells us that through creation, we see His "invisible qualities" and "divine nature."

I realize that how a rainbow forms can be explained scientifically. But can its beauty be explained? Or, is it a representation of God's "invisible qualities" and "divine nature?"

Chan goes on to describe how God is holy, God is eternal, God is all-knowing, God is all-powerful and God is fair and just. He quotes Colossians 1:16 - which tells us that everything was created for God: "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him."

Chan asks:

Can you worship a God who isn't obligated to explain His actions to you? Could it be your arrogance that makes you think God owes you an explanation?

Wow. That gives each of us a verbal whoopin' - doesn't it?!

But the Bible takes it even further:

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?" - Daniel 4:35

Chan asks:

Do you really believe that compared to God, "all the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing," including you?

These are hard sayings. But some might wonder, can it get any worse?

Answer: yes. Just take a look at Chan's section about God is fair and just:

One definition of justice is "reward and/or penalty as deserved." If what we truly deserved were up to us, we would end up with as many different answers as people who responded. But it isn't up to us, mostly because none of us are good.

Let's hold up here for just a moment. Going back to Anonymous' concern over my post about Glenn Beck, we can see here that Chan disagrees with Beck's claim that "most people are good." Again, it is possible that Beck was simply using the term "good" as a political term and not in the moral or spiritual sense. We all want to perceive ourselves as good, but compared to Holy God, we are not good.


God is the only Being who is good, and the standards are set by Him. Because God hates sin, He has to punish those guilty of sin. Maybe that's not an appealing standard. But to put it bluntly, when you get your own universe, you can make your own standards. When we disagree, let's not assume it's His reasoning that needs correction.

It takes a lot for us to comprehend God's total hatred for sin. We make excuses like, "Yes, I am prideful at times, but everyone struggles with pride." However, God says in Proverbs 8:13, "I hate pride and arrogance." You and I are not allowed to tell Him how much He can hate it. He can hate and punish it as severely as His justice demands.

God never excuses sin. And He is always consistent with that ethic. Whenever we start to question whether God really hates sin, we have only to think of the cross, where His Son was tortured, mocked, and beaten because of sin. Our sin.

No question about it: God hates and must punish sin. And He is totally just and fair in doing so.

In the final segment of Chapter One, Chan describes the reactions of both John in the book of Revelation and Isaiah who saw God on His throne. We learn that there are many facets of God that expand beyond our comprehension. God cannot be contained in this world, explained by our vocabulary, or grasped by our understanding.

I would imagine that each and every one of us will be speechless at first - admiring the King of the Universe with awestruck silence when we see Him! Both John and Isaiah found it difficult to describe seeing God in mere words. They tried to describe Him and the experience in ways that they, and we, could relate to and understand. For example - in Revelation, John describes the One seated on the throne with two gems, "jasper and carnelian," and the area around the throne as a rainbow that looked like an emerald.

Isaiah describes the seraphim appearing above and said they called out to one another saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

Yes! It certainly is! And we only get just a glimpse of His glory in all that He has created!

Recall that Isaiah's reaction was, "Woe is me...I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Isaiah didn't feel worthy. But as the Scriptures report, one of the seraphim touches Isaiah's mouth with a hot coal and tells him that his guilt is taken away.

Mercy is God withholding what you (we, I) deserve.
Grace is God giving you (us, me) what you don't deserve.

As Isaiah believed in God the Father and was waiting expectantly for the Savior of the world, he reminds us of what our only response to God's provision for our salvation - Jesus Christ should be!


GMpilot said...

Christians must embrace an incredible double standard to believe a God of the universe is perfectly good. They must say that many good things happen because they understand God’s ways and he wanted those things to happen, but they must also say that all bad things happen for reasons we can’t know because we don’t understand God’s ways.

I've certainly been told that often enough over the years.

Christinewjc said...

Generally speaking, we DO know why bad things happen on this earth. It's called sin.

Man knew good because God declared in Genesis that His Creation was good. But when man chose to know evil, the perfect goodness of Creation was marred by evil, sin and death. In fact, the Bible states that the entire earth groans for redemption.

All of Creation was affected by the knowledge and acceptance of sin.

If God swept away all sin, He would have to include every one of us because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

The free will given to the first man and woman allowed them to make the wrong choice; just like every man and woman today can still make the wrong choice(s) - especially when it comes to the decision to repent of one's individual sins and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

I can't claim to know all of God's ways. But what I do know is that He is in the business of redeeming every soul on earth. The redemption offered and given through Christ is the only way for sinful man to be reconciled back unto God the Father.

We may not know about all of God's ways while here on earth, but we have been given enough knowledge through God's Living Word - Jesus Christ, and His written Word - the Bible to make the most important decision one could ever make.

Gary Baker said...

Hi GM,

"Christians must embrace an incredible double standard to believe a God of the universe is perfectly good."

Not at all. We simply accept the definition that God is good and sets the standard. The reason that people such as yourself feel that God has acted in mean, arbitrary, or capricious fashion is that you believe that you have a more correct understanding of "good" than God. As long as you believe that you are correct, and anyone, even God, who disagrees is wrong, then it is impossible to convince you otherwise.

As for the matter of people treating the claim that "we can't understand the thoughts and motivations of God" as though it were an excuse or cop-out, liberals can't even understand that most of their policies (universal health, modern education policies, wage and price controls) have been tried time and time again and have always failed. How can people in general be expected to understand a mind that can create a universe? The answer is "you can't." Of course, that doesn't stop you from criticizing. It merely demonstrates how petty and self serving the criticism is.