God is Good

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Luke 18:19

The goodness of God endureth continually. Psalm 52:1

God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

God is good, all the time. This is a Christian confession with which most of us are familiar from youth. But, as a sad result of just how boring we can be, our familiarity with a confession can often give harbor to our ignorance, or our taking for granted, of it.

So, let’s briefly consider this confession together, for now, just dealing with the first part of the proposition: God is good.

God is good. But he is not good like my pastor is good, or my grandfather was good, or free market capitalism is good. Pastors, grandfathers, and free markets are good in that they conform to a standard of goodness that exists outside of themselves. My pastor is a good man. But he is not goodness itself. He is not the thing itself, but conforms to it, at least, to a marked degree among fallen men.

God is good. He is morally excellent. But he is not good because he conforms to a standard of goodness that exists outside himself and independent of himself. He is good in that he is goodness itself. Goodness, as a standard among men, exists because God is. And he is good.

Thomas Manton explains,

“He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature’s good is a super-added quality, in God it is His essence. He is infinitely good; the creature’s good is but a drop, but in God there in an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from Him” (Pink, Attributes of God, 62).

Goodness is a perfection of God, not a part, not something that has to be developed, not something contingent on his relationship with man. He is goodness. It is his essence.

Stephen Charnock writes that “whatsoever is perfect goodness, is God; whatsoever is truly goodness in any creature, is a resemblance of God…[God’s goodness] is not a habit added to his essence, but his essence itself; he is not first God, and then afterwards good; but he is good as he is God, his essence, being one and the same, is formally and equally God and good” (Existence and Attributes of God, 538 and 541).

This is God. He is good.

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