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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - Expressions of God's Goodness

Charles Stanley - Expressions of God's Goodness

Charles Stanley - Expressions of God's Goodness
TOPICS: Goodness

How important to you is your view of God? Is it important enough that you know exactly what you believe, at least to some degree about some aspects of God? Is it important enough that you're able to share it with someone else? Is it important enough that you keep on pursuing your understanding and your knowledge to help you know how to relate to this God whom you serve? You see, the truth is that it affects every aspect of our life. Your view of God is either going to strengthen your faith, or it's gonna cause you lots of uncertainty. It's either gonna give you courage or you're gonna end up with lots of fears. It's either gonna cause you to want to obey Him, or you're gonna rebel against Him. It's either gonna cause you to seek His will or choose to do it your own way. And it's either gonna cause you to draw close to Him or separate yourself from Him.

Your view of God is the highest concept of your life. The most important view you have in all of life is your view of God. And that's the reason we take the time to open God's Word and to find out what does He say about Himself? Because there are lots of people who have lots of ideas about God, but what does God say about Himself? And the best place to find that out is in His Word. So, I want you to turn if you will to the hundred and eighteenth Psalm. And the first verse of this hundred and eighteenth Psalm is the same thing that you'll find in the first verse of the hundred and sixth Psalm and the hundred and seventh Psalm and the hundred and eighteenth Psalm, they all say the same thing. "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting".

And as we think of all the attributes of God and been thinking about His greatness and who He is and how He works, I want us to think about the, the privilege of knowing the goodness of God. The privilege of knowing the goodness of God. Now when we usually think about Him, most people don't think about Him just being good. They think about Him being just and omniscient and omnipresent and all the rest. But the truth is He is a good God. And when you think about what the Bible talks about when the Bible speaks of His goodness, this is God's, there's something about God that He desires to be benevolent to us. Something in His character and His makeup. He wants to be good, He wants to express good things to us. He wants to do good things for us. He wants to reveal to us the good things in life. There's something about His very nature. And when you look at the very nature of God and remember that He is infinite in all of His attributes, that He is eternal in all of His attributes. He's always been good. He's good now. He's always going to be good. And because He is infinitely and eternally good, everything God does is good.

Now you and I may look at some aspects of life and say, Well, there's nothing good about this. There's nothing good about that. But I didn't say that everything that happens is good, I said that God is always expressing good and everything that God does is good because He is good by His very nature. The way you and I operate, the way you and I respond to Him may cause things to happen in our life that we don't feel are very good at all. But God is a good God and God is up to good in every single person's life. In fact, He says that "every good thing that comes our way, every good thing that is here in this life is the result of His goodness". In James chapter one he says, "There is no variableness, no shadow of turning with Him and that every good thing comes from the Father who is the Father of lights". He's the Father of heaven. Every good thing comes from Him.

So, when we think about Him, we have to think in terms of Him being a good God. And one of the things that we need to get into our thinking is, that He is not only awesome. He's not only omnipotent and just and holy, God is just a good God. He desires to be benevolent. He desires to express that goodness to all of us in all kinds of different ways. And so, somebody says, Well, I do understand that but one of the things that's always bothered me is that I see God being good to this person and that person and the other person, and I don't think He's very good to me. Now what you're saying is that you're looking at the ways in which God expresses His goodness to this group of people, to that person, the other person. And He hasn't expressed His goodness to you in the same way. And so therefore it looks like you've come up short. Well, you haven't come up short. In other words, God, listen, God isn't good and less good. He doesn't love more and love less. God is just good by His nature. It's His very character to be good. And so, he says He's good to all.

Now, there are some particular requirements, for example, that God makes for us. And I want you to turn if you will to let's look at Psalm eighty-four for just a moment. Go back to Psalm eighty-four and look to see what he says in this passage because God is good, no question about that. But there are some requirements for us if God is to express the fullness of His goodness toward us. And verse eleven says, "For the LORD God is a sun and a shield; the LORD gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold," listen, "from those who walk uprightly," straight, obey God. Go back if you will to Psalm thirty-four for a moment. Psalm thirty-four, and listen to what He says in this passage of scripture. He says in verse eight, "O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Fear the Lord, you His saints;" for the, listen, "for to those who fear Him, there is no want".

To fear God is to obey Him. So, he says, God doesn't withhold any of His goodness to those who walk uprightly, those who obey Him, those who walk in His will. He says God pours out His goodness. And does He not say in Romans eight twenty-eight, "For God is working everything for good to those who love Him and to those who are called according to His purpose". And so the truth is that God is being good to us. And if we want the fullness of God's goodness, we walk uprightly. We want the fullness of God's goodness, we obey Him. And so God has a pathway of goodness. And that pathway requires that we walk obediently before Him, submissive to Him, yielded to Him, and on that pathway all the goodness of God that He has provided for us is available to us.

If I get off the path, what I'm doing is I'm saying, I think there's a better way than God's way. I think there's something good over here that God is keeping me from, or something good that God's depriving me of, so I'm getting off of what seems to be His will because I think there's something good over here. That's exactly what Adam and Eve did. And so the pathway of goodness is the pathway of obedience and uprightness before Almighty God. Now, when we think of the goodness of God, and I have emphasized those things because I want to go in an entirely different direction at this point. Usually we think if God is good, He will give you a new car, new house, new dress, new suit, new this, new education, more this, in other words, all this is God's goodness. I mean, you know He help you lose weight, He help you gain weight, He help you look better, He get you, in other words, if God's good, all this is God's goodness.

You know what? I wouldn't question whether that's good or not because every good thing that comes our way is from God. It is good. What I want to do is I want to talk about something that are expressions of God's goodness, that are absolutely totally beyond my help or my strength, or yours to do anything about whatsoever. The goodness of God is expressed in more ways than material and physical things. Listen, the best of God's goodness is expressed in ways that only God could express it. There are gifts of His goodness that could only be from Almighty God. No amount of manipulation, no amount of anything that you and I could possibly do would ever bring this about. And so I want you to think about three aspects, three expressions of God's goodness to you and me that we cannot do anything about and can't get them unless God provides them. And He certainly has and all of this is on the pathway of God's goodness.

One of the ways that God expresses His goodness is in His mercy. One of the expressions of God's goodness is His mercy. Now there are some very significant things about God's mercy that I want us to think about because usually when we think about the mercy of God we think only in terms of salvation. But here's what I want you to remember. That when the Bible talks about mercy, usually it's, it's talk, it's talking about God's tender-hearted, loving, caring concern for people who are suffering people who are needy, or people who are in distress. And you'll recall for example, in that fourth chapter of Hebrews, most of you probably know that, but some of you may not.

So, if you have your Bible you may want to turn to that fourth chapter of Hebrews and look at a couple of verses here that are so very important. Because it reminds us just how tender-hearted He is. He says in verse fifteen, "For we do not have a high priest," speaking of Jesus, "who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses," but rather we have one who does, "but one who has been tempted," and tried, "in all things," just, "as we are, yet," He, "without sin". "Let us therefore draw near," to Him "with confidence," assurance, "to the throne of grace, that we may receive," what, "mercy and may find grace to help in time of need". He says the throne of grace is where we find mercy. We find God's tender-hearted, loving, caring concern of us, he says at the throne of God. That's where we find mercy. And I think also when you think in terms of the mercy of God you have to always connect it with God's patience.

And turn to Second Peter chapter three for a moment and look at that ninth verse here and notice what he says. Second Peter chapter three and verse nine. Here is a warning to us. But he says, for example, in verse nine, "The Lord is not slow about His promise," He's not behind, "as some count slowness, but is patient," listen, He is patient, toward us, "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance". When you think about in the mercy of God, you think about, I think about people, for example, who are not saved until very late in life. Maybe they've been alcoholics or maybe they've been on drugs or maybe they have done all kind of things, evil, vile, wickedness. They look at themselves and say, How in the world could God possibly save me? Listen, you may be thinking that about yourself.

You say, Well look, I've lived most of my life in rebellion toward God. I've done this, I've done that and you could list the number of sins that are absolutely now at this point in your life, they are catastrophic to you. And you say, Well, how could this God who is so good be merciful to me? Because, listen, because you think, you say in yourself, There's nothing in me that's good. Everything about me's bad. How could God be merciful to me? Because it is His nature to be merciful to people like you and like me. It's His nature. If you're looking for something within you that requires, demands, is worthy of mercy, you'll never find it. And the truth is, we have to all humble ourselves before Him and acknowledge there's not a single solitary one of us. It doesn't make any difference what you've done, how well you've lived. There's not a single one of us who has anything within us deserving of the mercy, the compassionate loving, kind tenderness of Almighty God, not a one of us.

One of the expressions of His goodness is that God in all of His goodness, and all of His love, and all of His kindness, and all of His caring toward us. Mercy is an expression of His goodness. Now, let me just say something to be very careful here. God's mercy never ceases. Now watch this. God's mercy never ceases. But if you choose to disobey God and disobey God, and rebel against God, and refuse God, and to deny God, and you die in your sins, God does not cease to be merciful. Listen, God does not cease to be merciful because it's His nature to do so. But God in His sovereign choice will allow you to die without Christ, be eternally separated from Him, and from that point on there is no mercy. You say, I thought you said God is eternally merciful. He is. God is in His nature eternally merciful. Does He express that mercy eternally in a person's life when they absolutely defy Him, deny Him, curse Him, reject Him, rebel against Him? No, He does not. Has He ceased to be merciful? No, He's not ceased to be merciful, He has ceased to express His mercy toward that person who has absolutely refused and denied, listen, the acceptance of His mercy. There is a difference.

A second way He expresses His goodness is by His grace. Grace is God looking down upon us and seeing what? Seeing our helplessness, seeing our hopelessness, seeing the absolute, listen, absolute desperation which we find ourselves. And doing what? Seeing all of that and knowing that you and I could do nothing for ourselves, God chose to justify us and declare us no longer guilty. He chose to forgive us. He chose to redeem us, sanctify us. In essence, save us from the guilty, the penalty of our sinfulness. He assumed full responsibility. You say, Well, now wait a minute. What do you mean by that? Well, let's take an illustration. It's very important you get this. For example, if I were a store owner and you came to me and you said, I realize I owe you a thousand dollars. I'd say, You know what, I've been thinking about it. I cancel the debt. I'm the store owner. I have full authority. It's my store. If I want to cancel your debt, all I got to do is say, Debt cancelled. The debt's over, the debt's cancelled. You're free.

Well, now the President, for example, of our country. He could say to someone, I'm going to pardon so-and-so. He has the authority and the position and the power to pardon someone and that person is free, simply by an act of his thinking, an act of his choice. Listen carefully. God cannot assume responsibility for your sin, penalty and guilt, by simply saying, No longer guilty. He cannot. Say, God can do everything. He can do everything but violate His own law. Now here's what I want you to see because the emphasis here is what I try to emphasize continually because it is the heart and the core of the whole Christian life. So listen carefully. God cannot simply say, Forgiven, redeemed, reconciled, sanctified. He cannot. Why? Because God is a just God, and being just He must, He is truthful. And being truthful, God, listen, God abides by His own, by His own character and His own nature.

There is nothing in the Bible that says God overlooks sin, God ignores sin, or God bypasses sin. Every single solitary sin, and every single sinner, their sin must be dealt with. That sin is not just pardon and forgiven by the whim of a great grandfatherly God who decides I'm gonna do a good thing for you. Listen carefully. You cannot, you cannot explain grace. You cannot explain forgiveness. You cannot explain salvation. Listen, there is no goodness of God that is expressed in grace apart from the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is, listen, the only way God, listen, the only way God can assume full responsibility for my sins, my sinfulness, and the penalty and the guilt is to do something about it. What does He do about it? He can't say, Forget it, forgiven. Because He said, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die". And because God has decreed, the soul that sinneth it shall die, and if He's assumed responsibility for it, God's got to do something.

So, what did He do? God chose to come to this earth in the person of Jesus Christ and die on the cross, shedding His blood, paying the full absolute total adequate sufficient penalty for your sin and mine and for the sins of the whole world. It is in the death of Jesus Christ, that God's goodness is able to be expressed through grace that brings about our forgiveness and our salvation. You cannot have grace apart from the cross. The goodness of God cannot be expressed in grace apart from the cross. You can't have salvation, redemption. You can't have sanctification, justification, glorification. You can't have anything of the goodness of God expressed in grace apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ, period. That is the law of Almighty God. And that is the heart and the core, listen, that's the foundation of the whole Christian life. Cannot express that adequately enough.

So, when somebody says, Well, God's good. Well, if God's good now you know if He's gonna be good, He just forgive me of my sin. He has assumed full responsibility for your sin. So how does He do it? He does it by sending His only begotten Son Jesus to the cross to die for our sins and He says, "Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life". My response, listen, my responsibility is to receive the grace of God. How do I receive the grace of God? I receive the grace of God the moment I accept His Son Jesus's death at Calvary as full payment for my sin. Till I do that, there is no forgiveness and I, listen, as good as God may want to be to you, you cannot receive the goodness of His salvation till you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. "No man comes to the Father but by Me". And the pathway of goodness, listen, the pathway of goodness is paved with the blood of Jesus Christ. And that isn't just some idea, some biblical terminology. That is the reality of life.

And my friend, when I think about the fact that anybody could live their life and ignore God when it is absolutely crystal clear in this book, that He's the source of every single good thing. And that He's expressing His goodness and His mercy, and expressing His goodness, listen, not only His mercy, but expressing it in His grace, He also expresses it in His love for us. You say, Well, I thought mercy and grace and all that stuff is love? Well, that's an aspect of it. It's gonna be expressed that way. But I think about how do you define the love of God? Absolutely impossible. Because you see it is absolutely eternal and it is absolutely perfect and it's absolutely unchanging.

So, the truth is, all of that is security for us. Praise God it can't change! Now all of us have probably done things that we'd think, Well, He won't love me anymore. You know what? You, listen to this. You can't sin so much God ceases to love you. Does that give you license for sin? Absolutely not! Because I want to say that the love of God is not only expressed in good things He sends your way but it's also expressed in discipline. Well, why did you have to get around to that? Well because that's what love is. Listen, discipline is, listen, discipline is loving correction for the good of the one being corrected, motivated by the love of the one who's doing the correcting. That's what discipline's all about. Discipline is God loving us, expressing goodness toward us.

And so, sometimes in our suffering what's God doing? He's expressing goodness to us because you see God knows what those expressions of love will ultimately bear fruit with. And I think all of us have been through circumstances and situations, we look back and maybe in the pain and the suffering of the moment we didn't like it. And we said, "God, if You are good, how do You justify this"? But you know what, God sees past, present, and future and because He sees the fruit, He sees the bounty, He sees how He's gonna be able to use you. He sees what He's gonna do in your life, that this hurt, this pain, this suffering at this moment, this is God being very, very, very good to you. Because He is equipping you to bring Him glory, and equipping you to sense satisfaction and completeness and wholeness and totality in your life that never would have been there had God not sent you through this valley of weeping which you, we see it as weeping because that's what we did.

And on the other hand, God sees it as a loving valley of preparation. Is He a loving God all the time? Loving all the time. Does He ever cease to love us? No, He doesn't. Well, you say, "Well, I believe somehow you, surely you could sin enough that God ceases to love you". Can't do it. I didn't say that the expressions of God's love, listen, the expressions of God's love and tenderness and compassion and grace would always be there eternally. No. But can you stop God from loving you? No, you can't. Why? It is His nature to love you.

So, when you think about all of the ways that God expresses His goodness to you, in His mercy, tender lovingkindness, in His grace that He has assumed full responsibility to take care of your guilt and penalty and sinfulness. And not only that, giving you the grace and the strength and everything you need to live every single day of your life. And then in His love for you, say, "Well, how would you define the love of God"? When somebody says, "Well, tell me about the love of God". Here's what I want to do. When somebody says, "Well, how do you explain the love of God"? Here's how I want to explain it... The cross. That one word is the most comprehensive, it is the pinnacle of the expression of the love of God. There's not anything you and I could possibly think of that will match the cross when it comes to expressing the love of God. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.

We, listen, we stand in the grace of God. We are covered with the grace of God. We live by the grace of God. We are recipients of the love of God. We, listen, we are where we are because of the mercies of God. And His mercies know no end. His love is immeasurable. His grace is inexhaustible. That's this God whom we serve and whom we love and whom we desire to obey. Now, I want you to think about something. I've told you the truth, the pure simple truth of the Word of God about God's goodness, at least some facet of it.

Now, let me ask you a question. If you and I have the privilege of being recipients of a God of mercy and grace and love, and we have a pathway that God has prepared for us, paved in the blood of Jesus Christ, the pathway of goodness that has on it only the best, only the best that an absolute sovereign perfectly good God could provide, would you not agree that it is very foolish to build your own pathway and ignore the plenitude and abundance of mercy, grace, and love of Almighty God? I don't know about you, but something in me will not let me walk in disobedience to a God who is so loving, so gracious, so merciful, so everything. And all He desires is our worship, our obedience, our service, our praise to Him. Would you not agree He is worth all that we can give Him, first of ourselves, all of our life and everything that's involved?
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