************ Sermon on Belgic Confession Article 1i ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 5, 2019
Belgic Confession Article 1i
"God is Good and the Overflowing Source of All Good"
"I learned the meaning of a word this week." That's what my cycling friend Rod said as we were cycling up the other side of Rocky Hill. "I learned what an agnostic is." He went on to explain an agnostic believes that nothing is known or can be known about God. An agnostic claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.
That certainly is not the teaching of the Bible nor of the sound doctrine of the Belgic Confession. Among other things, we declare we know God is good.
"Good" is a word so common we use it without thinking. I asked Kent & Julie this morning, "How you doing?" "Good," was their reply. I ask the grandkids, "How was school today?" "Good," they say without thinking.
We use the word "good" often enough, but what exactly does it mean? If something is good it measures up to the ideal, the ultimate. When applied to God it means that God is absolute perfection and perfect bliss in and of Himself. This is what Jesus has in mind when He says to the young ruler, "No one is good -- except God alone" (Mk 10:18b). God is good in Himself.
God is good. The chief concern of Scripture is not God's goodness in and of Himself; rather, the chief concern of Scripture is how God's goodness touches the lives of His creatures. For His creatures, says the Belgic Confession, God is the "overflowing source of all good." Every good thing which we and all creatures enjoy in the present and expect in the future, flow from the fountain -- the inexhaustible fountain -- that we know as God.
God is good. He is our overflowing source of all good. Tonight I want to mention three ways in which God is good to us -- realizing that there are other ways in which God is good: God provides, God is gracious, and God is patient.
I God Provides
A To be "good" means, in part, that you want to share what you have with others. When a husband and wife want a baby to share their life, their love, their laughter, their faith, their home, they are being good. Those who share their food with the needy, who give of themselves to the sick, who visit the prisoner, who care for the elderly, they are being good.
God is good, says Scripture. God is good so He wants to share Himself, His life, His love, with others. In Genesis 1 we read all about God's goodness. God decided, at the beginning of time, to share Himself with fish, birds, livestock, insects, wild animals, and man. Says the Psalmist, "The LORD is good to all ... he has made" (Ps 145:9). In making all His creatures we have to say God is good.
Did we deserve to be created? Of course not! How can a mankind that wasn't yet created deserve to be created? God created us out of His goodness.
B God is good. This means He not only shares His life with us. It also means He satisfies us, fills us to the brim, and meets our God-created needs. God is good, so He satisfies the needs of all His creatures. The Psalmist says,
(Ps 145:15-16) The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. (16) You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.Every science student learns about the laws of nature. The Bible knows nothing about these laws. The Bible only knows that God is there. When it rains, God is watering the hills from His chambers. If there is lightning, it is God. Thunder is the voice of the Lord. We all experience this good care of God. We all have food, shelter, and clothing.
C God is good. This especially means He satisfies our biggest and greatest need. Do you know what that need is? Psalm 42 speaks of this need:
(Ps 42:1-2) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (2) My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?It is God Himself Whom we need. God is our biggest and greatest need. None of us have really experienced life, none of us have come to know life's purpose and meaning, unless we have come to realize that God is our greatest need. That is why the Psalmist can say, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want" (Ps 23:1). If I have the Lord, I have the most important thing in life. If I have the Lord, nothing else is really needed.
A Sunday school teacher asked her group of children if any of them could quote Psalm 23. A little girl answered by saying, "The Lord is my shepherd, that's all I want." She may have overlooked a few verses, but that little girl captured David's heart in Psalm 23.
God is good. So He satisfies our need for Himself. Says the psalmist:
(Ps 145:18-19) The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (19) He fulfills the desires of those who fear him ...
To satisfy this need, our need for Himself, God had to come to us in Christ. There was a time that man could come to God without Christ. In fact, he lived and talked and walked with God. He was so completely in God that he had no knowledge of life without God. But then came the tragic fall into sin. After that man was incapable of coming to God on his own. After that man was incapable of satisfying the deepest need of his heart -- fellowship with and in God. So God had to send Christ Jesus. Christ took on human form and died on the cross so that we could again fellowship with God and satisfy the deepest need of our heart.
D God is good. He is so good. Think of God's goodness in connection with His immutability. God is faithful or immutable in His goodness. He continues to share Himself with us, He continues to satisfy all our needs. He doesn't change course in mid-stream. God is always good. For us He is always the "overflowing source of all good."
Think of God's goodness in connection with His almighty power. Because God is almighty we know He is more than able to satisfy our needs. He's got the whole world in His hands. He is able to do anything. He is more than able to be the overflowing source of goodness for us.
Think of God's goodness in connection with His perfection. God is perfectly good. He is not somewhat good.
Thing of God's goodness in terms of His eternity. God is eternally good. He is always good. He is never anything but good.
Think of God's goodness in connection with His infinity. This means God's goodness, like God Himself, knows no limits, no bounds, and no end.
God's goodness combined with His other attributes means we can trust God; it means we can have complete confidence in God; it means we may not and can not doubt that God will provide whatever we need for body and soul.
E God is good. He is so good. He is the "overflowing source of all good." Jesus reminds us that God's goodness is not restricted to believers alone; unbelievers too -- whether they admit it or not -- also experience the goodness of God. God is the overflowing source of all good for the believer and the unbeliever alike:
(Mat 5:45) ... He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.But the Christian alone appreciates every good thing as a gift from God. And, we alone know that we must praise and thank God for all His goodness. So, with the psalmist we say and we sing,
(Ps 145:1-3) I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. (2) Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. (3) Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
II God is Gracious
A God is good. The greatest goodness God shows to us is grace. Now, no child of God should be able to hear that word "grace" without getting a lump in the throat.
What is grace? Grace is the greatest and best display of God's goodness. Grace is the source of all God's spiritual blessings. It is by grace that the Gospel is proclaimed. It is by grace that sinners listen and believe and are justified. It is by grace that sinners will one day be glorified. Grace is the key to salvation.
B There is a very important question that we all must ask and answer. This question is, "How am I saved?" There is only one answer you can give: "By grace!" That's the only answer to this most important question. The Apostle Paul says, "it is by grace you have been saved" (Eph 2:5). And, in one of my favorite answers the Catechism says,
without my deserving it at all,
out of sheer grace,
God grants and credits to me
the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and
holiness of Christ ...
(Q & A 60)
God is so good. Like a bookkeeper He credits to our account the work of Jesus. When you get a credit slip from a bank, or a store, you have money added to your account. God credits to us the work of Jesus on the cross. And this He does out of "sheer grace"! He does this because of His goodness. It is out of goodness that the Eternal Son died for us and lived for us.
Do we deserve this goodness of God, this grace of God? Of course not! If the sinner deserves grace it is no longer grace -- because grace is unmerited, unearned, undeserved. The sinner deserves nothing -- except for condemnation and judgment. In grace we get exactly the opposite of what we deserve. Grace is the goodness of God for condemned people.
III God's Patience
A The last element of God's goodness I would like to mention is His patience, His longsuffering, His forbearance.
God is good. He is so good. He postpones the judgment of the unbelieving. Says the psalmist:
(Ps 145:8) The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The apostle Peter can say,
(2 Pt 3:9) The Lord is ... patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. It isn't because we deserve patience that God delays the Judgment Day. It is because God is good.
God does not wish any person to perish. The Apostle Paul can say that God "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4). God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked -- rather, He waits for the wicked to turn from their ways and live (cf Ezek 18:23). God gives all men opportunity to repent. Why? Because God is good.
C God is good. God is longsuffering. Therefore we must repent before it is too late. Do you know what the two most important questions in the world are? The first question I already asked: "How am I saved?" A second question we all should ask is, "Am I saved?" No person here can see the hidden depths of your heart or mind. So I ask you, "Are you saved? Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?"
"Are you saved?" God is good. God is patient. He wants you to repent. He gives you time to repent. But let me warn you, there will come a time when His patience will run out. You must repent and believe before it is too late. Yes, the Bible does tell us about a deathbed repentance -- that of the penitent thief on the cross. The message of the thief is that none should ever despair and that none are ever beyond repentance. However, this is the one and only deathbed repentance recorded in Scripture. The message of the thief is also that none of us should presume or dare to presume that we can wait until our deathbed, that we can put repentance and faith off until later.
One of the saddest moments of my ministry involved a young man who was in a horrible car accident. He was in a coma and it didn't look good. Making the situation even worse is that he lived a life without Christ even though he was a baptized member of the church. One of his uncles was especially distressed because he hadn't pressed him to be right with the Lord the last time they had met. The lesson: never wait until later. Because today -- not tomorrow -- is the day of salvation. Today -- not tomorrow -- is the time to repent and believe. I have to say this because God is not only good; He is also severe. He is severe with those who don't repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
God is good. He is so very good. We who believe know He is the "overflowing source of all good."
God is good. He is so very good. He provides, He is gracious, and He is patient.
God is good. He is so very good. So like the psalmist we should "praise his holy name for ever and ever" (Ps 145:21).
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