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Sermon 3/7/10
Matthew 19:17 - God Is Good

Audio Sermon

God Is Good

"He said to Him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17)

We have seen in this series on the nature, the character of God, that He is infinitely strong, able to care for you. He knows your every need, even better than you do. But is He interested? Does He care enough about you to act on your behalf? Every one of us would decide that God is good if He was to dramatically help us, and so we ask: “Is He? Is He good, even to people like us? Does He want MY good to the extent that He will act on my behalf?” Today’s Scripture is more complex than it seems at first glance, but the message about His character is clear: “No one is good but One, that is, God.” In this Scripture we have the testimony of the only One in history who has lived in heaven and has come to earth to tell us about God the Father. And He, Jesus Christ, has revealed to us that God is absolutely perfect in His intentions and in His actions. He is good and as a bonus He loves you without limit.

Many are troubled about the condition of humanity. Sickness and death are everywhere, wars have filled the world since the beginning and promises of fidelity are made but broken. Life may seem acceptable, but then the earthquake comes, the windstorm, the plague or something worse. Though most don’t believe it, the world was not always the way it is now.

In Genesis 1:31, an account of the moment after all that exists in this universe was created, we see God’s observation about this finished work. There was no death, no sadness, no injuries or illnesses of any kind. Mankind existed in the persons of a man named Adam and a woman called Eve who had not yet fallen into sin. Everything on earth was utterly beautiful beyond anything we could imagine - as God observed, “it was very good.”

Most don’t believe that this earth was in a state of perfection at the beginning of time, but it was. Our earliest ancestors were without sin, innocent in all their ways. Some have trouble believing in them because of their innocence. They were undoubtedly the brightest, most intelligent people who have ever lived; perfect representatives of all who would follow. However, they come across in Scripture as somewhat dull mentally, but that was only because they were perfectly innocent. Our present world is stained by sin and so are we, which contaminates our thoughts so much that our perceptions tend to be poor.

Humanity’s sense of what is valuable is distorted. We think that if everything goes well and our needs are satisfied, all is well and God is on our side. The danger in such a philosophy or theology, whatever you call it, is that when God is doing a work in our lives or in the lives of those around us that will bring us to greater faith, greater maturity in Christ, we might think He is against us.

One of God's faithful missionaries, Allen Gardiner, experienced many physical difficulties and hardships throughout his service to the Savior. Despite his troubles, he said, ‘While God gives me strength, failure will not daunt me.’ In 1851, at the age of 57, he died of disease and starvation while serving on Picton Island at the southern tip of South America. When his body was found, his diary lay nearby. It bore a record of hunger, thirst, wounds, and loneliness. The last entry in his little book showed the struggle of his shaking hand as he tried to write legibly. It read, "I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God."

Paul the Apostle left us a similar message. He spoke about His life in Christ, that he suffered many “imprisonments… beatings and often near death… Five times… forty lashes less one… Three times… beaten with rods… stoned… Three times… shipwrecked… adrift at sea… in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, dangers from (his) own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” and he suffered from “anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

The context continues into Chapter `1, where Paul says, “a thorn was given me in the flesh… Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Paul was “strong” because he did not depend on his own human abilities to get things done, but instead he looked to the Lord, who led him in the way he should go. He was given the Holy Spirit of God, who accomplished the work through him. In other words, Paul did what we all should do: He came to the Lord as a helpless beggar who could do nothing, but he was willing to have the faith to believe that God can and will accomplish what none of us can do. Here’s another witness about the power and love of God:

After Corrie Ten Boom was released from a German prison, she opened orphanages and spoke about the Lord around the world. She gave us words like these: "Often I have heard people say: 'How good God is!’ We prayed that it would not rain for our church picnic, and look at the lovely weather!' Yes, God is good when He sends good weather. But God was also good when He allowed my sister, Betsie, to starve to death before my eyes in a German concentration camp. I remember one occasion when I was very discouraged there. Everything around us was dark, and there was darkness in my heart. I remember telling Betsie that I thought God had forgotten us. 'No, Corrie,' said Betsie, 'He has not forgotten us. Remember His Word: 'For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.'" She concluded, "There is an ocean of God's love available - there is plenty for everyone. May God grant you never to doubt that victorious love - whatever the circumstances."

In the context of today’s Scripture (Matthew 19:19-22) we find Jesus speaking to a wealthy young man who “came up to Him,” asking, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus’ reply included today’s Scripture: "He said to Him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments’” (Matthew 19:17). The young man asked “Which” of the commandments should he keep? In response Jesus cited a few of them from Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, along with a quote from Leviticus 19:18. The young man replied, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20). Jesus saw right into the man’s soul, recognizing that for him, wealth was an impediment to entrusting his heart and life to the Lord. Jesus went to the man’s need and told him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” When “the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:21).

God is good, utterly good. And when you think about it, you’ll recognize that Jesus is God, for unlike us, He is good. Much like the rich young man, you and I have impediments that prevent us from fully entrusting ourselves to the Lord. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you – What keeps you from completely giving yourself? Let’s come to Jesus, for He is good:

Lord, I come to You, confessing that I have areas in my life that make me feel so safe that I have difficulty entrusting myself to Your care. I give up my sin of self-sufficiency. I give You my heart and my life. You are good and I am Yours. I place my faith in You. Please forgive me and receive me. I give You all that I have, all that I am. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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Friday Study Ministries
P.O. Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131 USA