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GOD'S STILL GOOD

A.     Introduction:  We are talking about the character of God -- what God is like.
     1.     We are focusing on three aspects of God`s character.  God is good and good means good.  God is a                Father who is better than the best earthly father.  God is faithful -- He always keeps His word.
          a.     Many Christians have inaccurate ideas about God's character and, as a result, they have inaccurate                     ideas about how God treats people.
          b.     Christians mistakenly think troubles come from God as He teaches us, tests us, purifies us, perfects                us, and chastens us.
               1.     But, the Bible is very clear that troubles don't come from God.  They are part of life in a sin                          cursed earth, an earth affected by sin.  Troubles are just here. John 16:33; Matt 6:19
               2.     God does teach us, purge us, perfect us, test us, and chasten us.  But He does it with His word.
          c.     Inaccurate knowledge of God's character can hurt your faith.  You cannot fully trust someone yu                     believe may harm you.  Accurate knowledge is a tremendous faith builder. Ps 9:10; Heb 11:11
     2.     When Jesus Christ was on this earth He gave us some critical information about the character of God.
          a.     John 14:9--Jesus said that if you've seen Him, you've seen the Father.  Why?  Because Jesus is                     God.  One of the reasons God became a man, took on flesh, was so we could see Him.
               1.     When Jesus was on earth He showed us how God treats people.  If Jesus did something to                          people, God does it.  If Jesus didn't do it, then God doesn't do it.
               2.     Jesus tested no one, purged no one, chastened no one with difficult circumstances.  He did all                          those things with His word.
          b.     John 10:10--When Jesus was on earth, He told us that if there is something in your life which is                     killing, stealing, or destroying, it did not come from God.
     3.     In this lesson we want to continue to talk about the fact that God is good and good means good.

B.     We can't repeat everything we've said in the previous two lessons.  But, let's look at an incident recorded      for us the NT and see how the things we are learning apply to a difficult circumstance.
     1.     Mark 4:35-41--The disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee and encountered a terrific storm which                threatened their lives.  Had Jesus not intervened, they probably would have died.
     2.     This incident brings up the question all of us struggle with in the hard times.  Why did the storm occur?
          a.     Did God send or allow the storm?  No!  
               1.     He allowed it in the same way He allows people to sin and go to hell.  He is not for it or                               behind it in any way.  People really do have free will.  That includes both choice and the                               consequences of the choice.
               2.     No earthly parent would send a storm and purposefully put His child in a life threatening                               situation to teach him a lesson.  Jesus said God is better than the best earthly father.
                    Matt 7:7-11
               3.     Jesus stopped the storm.  If the storm was the work of God, Jesus undid the work of God by                          stopping it.  And, that's a house divided against itself. Matt 12:24-26
          b.     Destructive storms are part of life in a sin cursed earth.
               1.     When Adam and Eve sinned one of the consequences of their sin was that a curse was                               unleashed on the earth. Gen 3:17-19; Rom 5:12
               2.     Before sin occurred there was no such thing as a destructive storm.  The earth was watered by                          a mist. Gen 1:31; 2:6
          c.     Did Satan send the storm?  We don't know, but he is indirectly responsible for it as the first rebel                     in the universe.  And, he is at work in the storm as we'll see in a minute.
               1.     Remember, God and Satan are not working together.  The devil is not God's hit man.  The                          devil is not God's special chastening tool reserved for His choicest servants.  He is God's                               adversary.
               2.     A deadly storm arose on the sea because that's life in a sin cursed earth.
     3.     Jesus told His disciples and us that Satan comes to steal the word through tribulation, persecution, and                affliction. Mark 4:15-17; Matt 13:19-21
          a.     When the storm occurred, Jesus had already told the disciples that God loves and cares for them.                     Matt 6:25-33; 7:7-11
          b.     But as soon as the disciples speak (v38) we see that the word has been stolen from them.  “Jesus                     don't you care about us?  We're going to die.”
          c.     How was the word stolen?  By a circumstance which made it look as though God didn't care about                them.  By fiery darts from Satan (thoughts) which contradicted God's word. Eph 6:11
     4.     Notice, Jesus calls their reaction to the storm “no faith”.  What did they do?  They doubted God's care                for them.  Note the connection between knowledge of God's character and effective faith.
          a.     Notice also that because they were not grounded in knowledge of God's character, when                               circumstances made it look as though God did not care about them, they sided in with what sight                     and feelings told them.
          b.     Jesus had mercy on them and helped them anyway.  But, from their reaction to the storm we can                     see why it is vital that we get an accurate picture of God's character from His word.

C.     It is so important as you face the difficulties of life that you know your troubles are not from God.       God is      good and good means good.  He is better than the best earthly father.
     1.     God does not “play” with you through bad circumstances.
          a.     Your life is not a cosmic checkerboard on which both God and the devil are making moves with                     you, the checker, stuck in the middle.
          b.     God does not have you in the fiery furnace to burn off the rough edges.  He isn't leading you                          through the wilderness for some sovereign purpose known only to Him.
     2.     All of those ideas come from lack of knowledge of God's word.
          a.     People look at their circumstance, try to figure out why things happen, and they draw faulty                          conclusions. Acts 28:1-6
          b.     People believe and repeat parts of scriptures taken out of context -- The Lord won't give you more                     than you can bear. I Cor 10:13
          c.     People mix apples and oranges because they don't understand how to read the Bible in context.
               1.     Everything in the Bible was written by someone to someone about something.  You must                               determine those things before you can fully interpret and apply a verse.
               2.     You cannot take OT verses written to Israel when they were in rebellion, worshipping false                          gods by sacrificing their babies to them and calling rocks their father, to Joe Christian who is                          doing his best to serve God and keep stumbling in an area of their life.
     3.     Yes, but isn't suffering a part of Christian life?  It's part of everybody's life -- saved and unsaved.                      That's life in a sin cursed earth!! John 16:33; Matt 6:19
          a.     When the NT speaks of suffering for the Christian it never refers to suffering sickness or a bad                     marriage or a car wreck or a failed business deal, etc. as suffering for the Lord.
          b.     The NT defines suffering for a Christian as persecution for the gospel's sake, and as any kind of                     personal sacrifice or discomfort we experience as we live for Christ and preach the gospel.
               Phil 1:29,30; Acts 16:19-26; Acts 5:41; II Cor 1:5,6
          c.     And, the NT makes it clear that when we find ourselves in those kinds of situations, we are more                     than conquerors through Christ in us. Rom 8:35-37
     4.     Life is hard because that's life in a sin cursed earth.  The way can be rough.
          a.     Because of persecution.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were put into the fiery furnace                          because they refused to worship a false god. Dan 3
          b.     Because we are on the way to a better place and this is the only route to it.
               1.     The only way for Israel to get from Egypt to the promised land was by crossing the Sinai                               Peninsula -- a mountainous, dry land.
               2.     But God took care of His people on the way.  He fed them, clothed them, protected them.
          c.     Because there are those in the wilderness who need or help and we have to go in and help them.
               II Cor 1:5,6; 4:15; II Tim 2:10
          d.     Because of our own poor choices.  Israel was n the wilderness because of unbelief and                               disobedience. Heb 3:19; Num 14:27-34
               1.     The wilderness is not a special place for God's choicest servants.  If you're in the wilderness,                          repent and get out.
               2.     Note this point.  We are not saying you are in a bad circumstance because of lack of faith.                           Faith does not stop troubles.  Faith gets you through troubles.  We are saying you could be in                          your troubles because of bad choices you have made -- failure to obey God's word.
               3.     Note this point.  Years of bad choices are usually not undone overnight by one good choice.
     5.     People sometimes get confused over where their troubles come from when good comes out of a bad                situation.  They presume God must have been behind the bad in some way because good came out of it.
          a.     But that is an example of Rom 8:28, God taking genuine evil and bringing genuine good out of it.
          b.     People wrongly try to use Rom 8:28 as an explanation for evil -- God brought this into your life                     because He is going to work it for your good.  No!!
          c.     You must understand that God has a will and a plan for our lives.
               1.     God's will is His desire for us.  It is clear from the Bible that God's desire for man is sonship                          and blessing. Eph 1:4,5; Jer 29:11
               2.     God's plan is what He does with human choices as He seeks to bring His will to pass.
          d.     Rom 8:28 expresses that idea.  God's will is good for His children.  God's plan is taking the all                     things that result from human choice and causing them to serve His purpose which is good.

D.     Yes, some would say, but God is sovereign and He can do what He wants even if it's bad because He is      God and He knows best.
     1.     The fact that God is sovereign means He is all powerful and in complete control -- omnipotent and                omniscient.
     2.     It does not mean that He can do whatever He wants even though it is irrational, cruel, and contradicts                His word because He is God.  There are some things God cannot do, does not do.
          a.     He cannot lie and He cannot deny Himself. Heb 6:18; Titus 1,2; II Tim 2:13
               1.     He cannot deny His own nature. (Norlie)
               2.     He cannot prove false to Himself. (Williams)
          b.     God does not change and He does not violate free will. James 1:17; II Pet 3:9; Luke 13:34;
               Mark 6:5; Matt 13:58
     3.     We say that because God is sovereign He can do bad to people because He knows what is best, and,                because He's God, it is good.
          a.     But that is backwards.  The opposite is true.  God uses His sovereignty to demonstrate His grace,                     to give people what they don't deserve, to do them good.
          b.     The fact that God is sovereign doesn't mean He can do bad to people if He wants to.  It means He                     can do good to people.
          c.     He can bless people and have mercy on people who don't deserve it.
     4.     God, in His sovereignty, has been kind to all of us by sending Jesus to die for our sins so He can                     remove our sins without violating His righteousness. Eph 2:7; Titus 3:4
          a.     Did you ever think of Jesus as an example of God's sovereignty?  No!  We think of unhealed                          diseases and tragedy as God's sovereignty.
          b.     You cannot find one time in the Bible where God used His sovereignty to withhold blessings, but                     you find example after example where He used His sovereignty to bless people.
     5.     God, as sovereign Lord of the universe has the right to display His kindness as He chooses.
          a.     Rom 9:15--For God has said to Moses, “If I want to be kind to someone, I will.  And I will take                     pity on anyone I want to.” (Living)
               1.     The context of the verse is God's choice of Isaac and Jacob as the ones to whom, through                               whom, Abraham's blessings passed
               2.     The verse is a quote from Ex 33:19 and the context of that verse is God showing His kindness                          to Moses by allowing Moses to see Him.
          b.     In chap 32 we see a tremendous example of God's sovereignty.  While Moses was on the                               mountain receiving the Law, Israel made the golden calf and worshipped it as the god that brought                     them out of Egypt -- and God allowed them to live.

E.     Conclusion:  God is good and good means good.  How do we know that?  Jesus shows us.  Jesus tells us.           Matt 19:17; Acts 10:38; Heb 1:1-3
     1.     Don't base what you believe about God on your circumstances -- what you see, feel, or reason.
          a.     Base it on what the Living Word of God, Jesus, tells you and shows you. John 14:9; Matt 7:7-11
          b.     When you base what you believe about God on what the Bible says, then when you don't know                     why the bad happened, you can immediately shut the door on accusations against God.
     2.     What about the verses in the Bible which seem to say God does bad to people?
          a.     The Bible does not contradict itself.  If Jesus tells us and shows us that God is good then                               everything in the Bible somehow agrees with what Jesus shows us and tells us.
          b.     If you have ten scriptures which clearly say God is good and good means good and one verse                          which seems to contradict, don't throw out the ten in favor of the one.  Assume you do not yet                     have full understanding of the one and put it on the shelf until you do understand it.
     3.     In the meantime, we'll keep studying God's word to gain an even clearer picture of God and His true                character.