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This Week's Teaching: "God is Good!"
So this is week four, looking at how God describes himself.
We've been looking at Exodus 34:5-8, where God comes to Moses and he says of himself, "the LORD, the LORD (Yahweh, Yahweh), the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."
We've already looked at how when he said, "Yahweh, Yahweh," he said, "I am your God. I'm who I am. And you can know me." And then he said, "I am kind." Then he said what we saw last week, "I am patient." And this week we'll see how he describes himself as good.
Now in the passage that I just read, the translation I just read, He describes himself as "abounding in love and faithfulness." Now, I could say that God describes himself as loving and I could say that he describes himself as faithful. But the way we relate to loving has mixed meanings for us. And the way we relate to faithful has some mixed meanings, and so I'm saying God is good. And that'll make sense as I explain.
Now, if I told you God loves you, that's a welcomed thing. If someone tells me "God loves you," oh, that's such good news.
But what if he's bad? What if he's bad and he loves me? That's not so good news. Like, what if he's malevolent? What if he's not good natured and he loves me? That becomes actually bad news. That becomes something I need to be afraid of. So God loves you, but what if he's bad? What if he's malevolent?
Or what if he is benevolent? What if he is goodwilled, but he's just bad at loving? What if he's not good at it? What if he means well, but is unreliable in his love? Again, that's bad news. That's not good news.
And so if I tell you, God loves you... What is he like? I'm saying he is good.
If God is not trustworthy, He is not loving. And if God is not loving, He is not trustworthy. But if God is not good, He is neither loving or trustworthy. And so I'm saying God is good.
Let's lean into this. Let's pick apart the loving and the faithful and you'll see why it means good.
Now, when God describes Himself as abounding in love, the abounding is plenteous. It's abundant. It's enough. It's more than you could ever need. He has that much love for you.
But what is love? In some of the translations, it would be described as good. Some would describe it as loving-kindness. This is love.
We might relate to love as affection, because that's how we relate to others; "I have such affection for you." And I would say it's true that God has affection for you. But when he describes himself as abounding in love, it's not abounding in affection. That can come and go. If you become less than lovable, affection can come and go.
But when he says, I am abounding in love, he says, I have more love for you than you could ever need. And that kind of love can be described as not just enjoyment of us, but goodness and kindness for us or toward us.
He is abounding in love. He has more love for you than you would ever need. He redeems us from our enemies. He redeems us from our troubles. He redeems us from sin. He keeps his covenant with us. He is merciful toward us. He has good deeds toward us. And some of this overlaps with what we looked at in the second week on this.
In 1 John, we read about God's love when we read, "God is love." This is 1 John 4. Read this and just, wherever there's "love," put a heart around it or something like that, and you'll just see how often John talks about love in this. And he says, verse seven, "Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us. He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." Verse 16, "God is love." That's the second time John says it: "God is love." We could read on and on and on.
God is love. He is abounding in love for you. And this is how he showed his love for us. He gave his Son as an atoning sacrifice for your sin... He, being very God became flesh and lived for awhile among us so that he could die our death, and defeat death, and be raised to life to give life to whoever would choose it.
He loves us that much that he paid our penalty. He wouldn't have had to. He did it by his choice. He is abounding in love for you.
But not just abounding in love. He is abounding in faithfulness.
When we think about faithfulness, let's not think so much about how we might use it in our relationships. When you think of this kind of faithfulness of God, don't think so much of fidelity, as we might in a marriage -- faithful in marriage, fidelity in marriage. If I describe myself as faithful to my wife, people would understand that means fidelity to her. Or if I might describe myself as faithful to a certain group of people, I am loyal to that group of people. We recognize it as that. But when God says he's abounding in faithfulness, let's not hear it quite so much as fidelity and loyalty, although it has elements of that, but let's hear it more as trustworthy and true.
Trustworthy; he can be relied upon. And true to himself; true to truth. He is true. He's not wavering. He represents stability, continuance, truthfulness, rightness. In a word, he is trustworthy. He's faithful. He is abounding in faithfulness. He is trustworthy.
In 2 Timothy, Paul describes God and says, "Here is a trustworthy saying, If we died with him, we will also live with him. If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us. If we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot disown himself."
He is faithfully who he is. He's abounding in love and faithfulness. He is trustworthy. He is good.
Like I say, if he's not trustworthy, he's not loving. And if he's not loving, he's not trustworthy. But if he's not good, he's neither loving or trustworthy. He is good, because he's abounding in love and faithfulness.
In Psalm 145, this Psalm of David, he mentions the same phrase of Exodus 34 and other places where God describes himself. And this is verse 8. "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love..." And so this is that same concept. It says, "The Lord is good to all. He has compassion on all he has made."
And David says, "All your works praise you, Lord. Your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom, and they speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom." He says, "Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. And your dominion endures through all generations."
And then he writes this: "The Lord is trustworthy." "The Lord is trustworthy in all the promises, and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down." He says, "The eyes of all look to you and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and you satisfy the..." -- listen to how good God is -- "you open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him. He hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy."
Now we'll get to that in a week or two. The punishing God. That's a part of this. But listen: "The Lord watches over all who love him... He hears their cry... He saves them... He fulfills the desires of all who fear him..."
Then David says, "My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name forever and ever."
Do you believe God loves you? Do you believe he is trustworthy? And probably, the people I'm talking to would say yes, he loves me, he is trustworthy.
But let me ask you this: Do you believe he's good? Do you believe he is good? That when he loves you, he's not bad, and he's not bad at it; he is good. And when he is faithful, when he is trustworthy, he is good.
Do you believe, not just that he loves you and is trustworthy, do you believe that God is good? To his core, good?
This is God's self revelation: I am God, you can know me. I am kind, you can trust me. I am patient, repent while there's time. And I am good, so you can love me.
If you've ever loved someone who was bad, who was malevolent, who was not "worthy" of love, you know how painful that is. But God is good, and so you can love him. Apply yourself to loving God this week. It's the essence of worship. Make sure that you know God.
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