So God’s character is reflected
throughout the canon of Scripture.
Ideas 8 & 9
I suspect there is something of a story even in the sequence of big thematic ideas I am pondering in this series. God, creation, sin, grace, faith, redemption, community, and building on last time:
God’s character is marked by a certain spreading goodness that moves outwards to us and to all nations, rather than the self-oriented glory grab we might expect.
It is strange that we have expectations of God. If it weren’t for His self-revelation we would know nothing. Yet somehow we can easily assume we know quite a lot, even apart from the Bible. So we take the speculative notions of the classical Greek theologians and voila, a bank of knowledge about the supreme being.
If we would just listen to the Bible we would surely hear something different.
God is not a self-oriented glory hunter.
He is not some sort of power-obsessed despot creating and playing for his own amusement. Even though a god made in our image would be self-concerned, the God of the Bible is anything but.
There is no more glorious glimpse into the eternal experience of God than the Son’s prayer in which we discover that the Father and Son are completely concerned with the other, not with self. There is glory, but it is a far more glorious glory, the glory of a loving giving kind, the biblical God kind. And even the prayer is a prayer for others to share in that eternal experience!
It is the outward moving motivation of God’s love that makes sense of creation rather than non-creation.
It is the spreading goodness of God that makes sense of mercy triumphing over judgment. It is the overflowing and giving character of God that makes sense of His missionary mindset – in the sending of His Son, in the Son’s sending of His followers, and in His going with us.
It is the revealing, speaking, good God of Isaiah that wants witnesses to get to the ends of the earth, and His Son, His ultimate revelation, speaking to His followers with a commission in the same language. So God’s character is reflected throughout the canon of Scripture.
God is a giving God, a going God, a to the ends of the earth kind of a God.
There is nothing grabby about this deity, other alternatives should be set aside in response to the great theme of God’s spreading goodness.
We may have consumed a diet of divinity teaching from the world, or even in the church, that somehow hasn’t felt quite consistent with the Bible. We need to preach His Word so that others can taste and see that the Lord is good.
I started this series with the note that Haddon Robinson had suggested that the Bible weaves together about ten bigger big ideas. I’m offering my list, feel encouraged to read the Scriptures and write your own.
We’ve pondered our triune God, His creation, our fall into sin, His grace, our faith, His great work of redemption, resulting in our unity, the spreading giving goodness of God’s plan and now we have two left. The Bible is saturated with this theme:
A fallen world is a place of despair, yet sin cannot win against our great God, so His people always have hope.
From the very beginning God’s book is a book of hope, because God’s people have a God worth trusting. Even in the very moment of rebellion, in the sentencing phase of the first ever trial, God gave not punishment, but promise. The seed of the woman is the hope of a fallen humanity.
Eve thought she had him in the joy of a son born. The generations passed, but God is not slow in keeping His promise. The promised one was coming in the line of Shem, of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Judah, of Jesse, of David – of the unlikely, of the unholy, of the ordinary people in the line of an extraordinary promise.
The prophets told of the coming servant who would suffer, the coming King who would reign.
Generations ticked by, but for those with hearts aligned with God’s, hope only grew stronger. Each father potentially in the line and gazing into his little Jewish boy’s face would wonder. Finally it was a step-Dad’s little boy, a tiny bundle of life that he carried into the temple courts to be gazed on by two sets of faithful hope-filled aged eyes.
Now we live in light of His coming, and yet we look forward. Almost every book of the New Testament speaks of the future return of our Christ, the groom coming to take us home to the Father’s house prepared for us. We live in the shadows between two great spotlights, the appearing of the grace of God, and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. That is our blessed hope.
Some suggest such a hope is a crutch for the weak, or an anesthetic for the hurting.
The truth is we are so weak we need more than a crutch, but this hope does not dull our senses. It enlivens us to live this life with hearts beating after His, with eyes to see His faithful loyal love, with ears to hear His word that stirs faith. Hope transforms the darkest vale of tears, not by a temporary fix, but with the perspective of His forever plan.
The hope of the people of God is not a hope restricted to manageable circumstances or changeable situations. It is a hope that holds in the face of hellish opposition. It is a hope that stirs when death seems to own valley of the shadow in which we walk. It is a hope that steps forward to pay even the greatest price, knowing that it is not we that stand on a slippery slope.
This earth has nothing we desire besides Him. So we live on this earth gripped by the hope that only a good God would offer.
And we will not be disappointed. We wait, we live and we die still anticipating a city whose maker and builder is God. We hail home and do not shrink back, as those looking forward to the homecoming of those bought and washed in precious blood, a community with no trace of sin and its effects.
Yet our hope is not really the city with its perfect architecture and untarnished building materials.
They are as asphalt compared to the real glory of that city. For our hope is not merely the place, nor even the privilege of participating in the gathering of the rescued people, our hope is the Person himself in whose presence we will know the fullness of joy – we will be forever with the Lord!
The hope God gives has always gone beyond the where, to the who.
God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
Sine we combined two of Peter’s posts into one….
You can comment on the “goodness” section of Peter’s article here
Or, you can comment on his “hope” section here.
Dr Peter Mead
Peter is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program. Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum. He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor. For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit www.cordeo.org.uk. Peter also authors the BiblicalPreaching.net website for preachers.