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GOOD MEANS GOOD

A.     Introduction:  We have begun to talk about the character of God.  Character is the sum total of the      distinguishing qualities of a person -- his nature.
     1.     Accurate knowledge of God's character is a tremendous faith builder. Ps 9:10; Heb 11:11
     2.     There are many aspects of God's character which are worthy of study.  We are focusing on three of                them:  God is good.  God is a Father.  God is faithful.

B.     In the last lesson we began to talk about the fact that God is good and good means good.  We want to      continue in this lesson.  First, we must restate some key points from the last lesson.
     1.     Christians mistakenly think troubles come from God as He teaches, purges, perfects, and chastens us.
          a.     But, those ideas are based on lack of knowledge of what the Bible tells us about God.  Those ideas                     are based on looking at circumstances and trying to figure them out.          
          b.     Troubles are just here.  They are part of life in a sin cursed earth, an earth affected by sin.
               John 16:33; Matt 6:19
     2.     All difficulties, trials, tests, etc. are ultimately directly or indirectly traceable to Satan and sin.
          a.     Adam and Eve's sin unleashed a curse on the earth and death on the human race. Gen 3:17-19;                     Rom 5:12
               1.     We live in an earth cursed by sin.  That means killer storms, weeds, rust, decay, and death.
               2.     We have bodies which are still mortal.  They are subject to sickness, old age, and death.
               3.     We interact with unsaved people who are dominated by Satan and with Christians who are                          carnal and have unrenewed minds.
               4.     We have an enemy who is seeking to destroy us.
          b.     Men really do have free will.  They can choose good or bad and all the consequences which come                     with that choice.
     3.     Jesus made the issue of where troubles come from very clear when He was on earth.  He said the devil                comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy.  He said God comes to bring abundant life. John 10:10
          a.     If something is in your life and it is destructive, it did not come from God.
          b.     Some would say, “Yes, but God allowed it for some purpose.”  God allowed it in the sense that He                allows people to sin and go to hell.  He is not for it or behind it in any way.
          c.     Some would say, “Yes, but God uses the devil to perfect us.”  God and the devil are not working                     together.  God does not allow or use the devil to afflict you only to turn around and comfort
               (II Cor 1:4) and deliver (Ps 34:19) you.  That would be a house divided against itself.  God                          perfects us with ministry gifts as they administer the word. Eph 4:11
     4.     We must get our information about God from the Bible and we must begin our study of God's                     character with Jesus.  Jesus is the complete revelation of the Invisible God. John 1:18; 12:45; 14:9;
          II Cor 4:4; Col 1:15; Heb 1:1-3
          a.     If you want to know what God is like, what God does, you must look at Jesus -- not at your                          circumstances, your experience, your feelings, your logic -- or anyone else's.
          b.     Jesus repeatedly said He spoke the words of His Father and did the works of His Father by the                     power of the Father in Him. John 4:34; 5:19,20,36; 7:16; 8:28,29; 9:4; 10:32; 14:10; 17:4
     5.     Jesus shows us God because Jesus is God. Col 2:9
          a.     Somehow, in discussing the Trinity, we instinctively make Jesus less than the Father because when                He took on a human nature, He did take a place of submission to the Father.
          b.     But, Jesus was not the Son in heaven before He took on flesh.  He was God.  Jesus is God.
               1.     One of the reasons God became a man was so that we could see Him. Col 1:15
               2.     When you are looking at Jesus you are looking at God because Jesus is God.
          c.     If Jesus did something, the Father does it.  If Jesus didn't do it, the Father doesn't do it.
               1.     Jesus healed people, set people free from bondage, taught people with the word of God, cast                          out devils, raised people from the dead, fed people, met the needs of people, had compassion                          on people, stopped storms.
               2.     Jesus did not make anyone sick or refuse to heal anyone who came to Him.  He did not set up                          circumstances to see what people would do.  He taught people with His word in the                                    circumstances.  He sent no storms or caused any donkey cart crashes.  He gave no blessings in                     disguise.  He disciplined people with His word not with circumstances.
          d.     If you want to know what God is like, if you want to know His character, if you want to know how                God treats people, you must look at Jesus.

C.     Look at how Jesus, who is God and who shows us God, tested His disciples. John 6:6
     1.     Jesus tested them with His word.  This circumstance of lack was an opportunity for the disciples to                express faith and confidence in God.
     2.     God's test was not, is not the circumstance, but rather His word in the circumstance.  Will you                     believe His word despite what you see or feel.
     3.     God's test to Abraham was His word. Heb 11:17-19 (Tried is the same Greek word as prove in
          John 6:6); Gen 22:1,2
          a.     God told Abraham that through Isaac His promise to him would be fulfilled. Gen 21:12
          b.     The test was this:  Abraham, is your confidence in my provision for you what you see (Isaac) or is                     it in my word to you?
     4.     God's test to Joseph was His word.  Would Joseph continue to believe God's promise to Him despite                what he could see? Ps 105:17-19
     5.     God's test is never vague or nebulous.  God's test is:  Will you believe my word despite what you                     see and feel?
D.     Look at how Jesus, who is God and who shows us God, purged His people. John 15:1,2
     1.     You can't take these verses, apply them to Joe Christian, and say that God is purging him with a trial.
     2.     To get an accurate picture of God's character you must understand how to read the Bible.  You must                learn to read in context.  Everything in the Bible was written by someone to someone about something.
          a.     Jesus came first to the Jews and offered them the kingdom promised to them in the OT.
               1.     The nation of Israel through their leaders, the Pharisees, rejected Jesus and His offer.
               2.     Much of what Jesus said while He was on earth was directed at this whole issue of the                               kingdom offered to and rejected by Israel and its leaders.
          b.     Jesus called Himself the true vine.  That is significant because in the OT Israel was called God's                     vine. Ps 80:8; Isa 5:1-7; Jer 2:21; Hos 10:1
               1.     Jesus was preparing them for the fact that they must be joined to Him, the true vine.
               2.     He was also preparing them for the fact that the dead weight branches like the Pharisees                               would be taken away if they did not repent. Matt 15:12-14; Matt 4:7-10
     3.     In v3 Jesus speaks to His disciples.  He tells them they are clean because of His word.
          a.     The word purgeth (v2) and clean (v3) are the same words in the Greek.
          b.     To purge means to make clean.  God cleanses His followers with His word. Eph 5:26
     4.     Trials can expose traits in us which need to be dealt with.  That is one way God brings good out of bad.
          a.     But trials don't automatically make us better people.  Trials destroy many people. Matt 7:24-27
          b.     It is believing and acting on God's word in the trial which brings change and victory. James 1:21

E.     Look at how Jesus, who is God and shows us God, chastened people. Rev 3:19
     1.     About sixty years after Jesus left the earth He appeared to His disciple John who was exiled on the Isle                of Patmos.  The information John received became the Book of Revelation.
          a.     In chapters 2 and 3 Jesus gave John specific instructions for seven churched located in Asia Minor                     (Turkey) at that time.  These letters contain both praise and correction for those churches.  Jesus'                     correction of them came through His words to them.
          b.     Jesus concluded this part of the message to John and the churches with the statement:  As many as                     I love, I rebuke and chasten. Rev 3:19
     2.     Both rebuke and chastening are verbal.  Both are accomplished through words. Ps 94:12
          a.     Rebuke means to confute (to overwhelm by argument), refute (to prove wrong by argument or                     evidence), reprove (to administer a rebuke, to scold, to express disapproval of), or convict (to find                     or to prove guilty).
          b.     To chasten means to train, to instruct, to correct or discipline by chastening (or by instruction).                      Look how the word is used elsewhere in the NT. Acts 7:22 (was learned); Eph 6:4 (nurture);
               II Tim 3:16 (instruction); Titus 2:12 (teaching)
          c.     The purpose of rebuke and chastening is to identify and expose unacceptable behavior so it can be                     corrected.  Words must be involved so instruction can occur.
     3.     People take the passage in Heb 12:5-9 and impose meanings on the words rebuke and chasten which                are not allowed by the text -- This car wreck is God's chastening of me, etc.
          a.      Remember, rebuke and chastening are verbal.  We are told not to despise chastening but to endure                     it.  Despise means to have little regard for.  Endure means to stay under, to remain.       
          b.     Chastening from the Lord is something you can reject or get out from under.  You cannot reject a                     car wreck or get out from under cancer.
     4.     Sometimes people say that just as a human parent has to spank a disobedient child, so God has to                     occasionally spank us.  There is a huge difference between being spanked on the bottom as a child and                getting cancer or having your house burn down.
          a.     Heb 12:9 links God's disciple with earthly fathers.  Jesus told us our Heavenly Father is better than                the best earthly father. Matt 7:9-11
          b.     No earthly father in his right mind would punish his kid with cancer or a car wreck to teach him.
     5.     The word chasten is used one time in the NT in connection with sickness. I Cor 11:29-32
          a.     The Corinthians were taking communion irreverently (unworthily).  They were getting drunk and                     gorging themselves.  They were not recognizing the value of Jesus' sacrifice.
          b.     As a result, many were weak and sickly and many actually died.  This is called judgment or                          chastening of the Lord. v31,32
               1.     When God judges people on earth He allows them to reap the consequences of their sin.
               2.     Note, the Corinthians could have stopped the judgment or consequences of their sin at                               anytime by judging themselves -- by saying this is wrong and stopping it.
     6.     Consider the Pharisees -- the hypocritical religious leaders of Israel.  
          a.     Jesus repeatedly rebuked and chastened them with His words.  He repeatedly warned them that if                     they did not repent and receive Him they would be judged. Matt 12:39-45; 23:1-39
          b.     They did not listen to Him.  They despised the chastening of the Lord.
               1.     In 70 AD the Roman army overran Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and scattered the nation.
               2.     The Jewish historian Josephus, in his writings, described the horrific slaughter which                               occurred.  1,100,000 Jews were killed by the Romans.  
               3.     But, not a single Jewish Christian was killed.  They listened to Jesus.  While He was still on                          earth He warned His followers to get out of Jerusalem before the destruction. Luke 21:20-24

F.     Conclusion:  It is vitally important that you know what God is really like.  You cannot fully, completely           commit to someone you don't totally trust.
     1.     When trouble strikes you need to know that the trouble did not come from God.  It must be a settled                issue if you are going to face life with confidence.  God is good and good means good.
     2.     The questions of life we all have can be, must be, filtered through the character of God.  “I don't                     know why this happened.  But one thing I know for sure, this is not the work of God.  But, He will                help me get through this in victory.”
     3.     Don't look at your circumstances to try to figure out what is happening, why it is happening, what God                is doing, etc.  Look at Jesus.  Jesus is God and He is good and good means good.