Do you have a theology that simply tells you that God is good to you, or do you have a theology that tells you that God is good for you? Cultural Christianity limits its message to the former, yet biblical Christianity embraces both.
Over and over again, Scripture tells us that God is good to His people. In Psalm 145:9, the psalmist reminds us of the just and good acts of God when he says, “The LORD is good to all, and His mercy is over all that he has made.” James highlights that God is like a good Father, knowing what we, His children, need when he writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
But the Bible also teaches that God doesn’t just do good, but that He Himself is good, that He satisfies. It is at this point, in particular, where the message of cultural Christianity and the message of biblical Christianity are most at odds.
- The message of cultural Christianity says that God is good to us.
- The message of biblical Christianity says that not only is God good to us, but more importantly, God is good for us.
- The message of cultural Christianity tells us to seek God’s goods.
- The message of biblical Christianity tells us to seek God’s goodness.
- The message of cultural Christianity is that God does good things for you.
- The message of biblical Christianity is that God Himself is good for you.
Herman Bavinck says it perfectly when he says, “God, and God alone, is man’s highest good.” The overwhelming message of the Bible is not simply that God does good things, but (far more beautifully) that God Himself is good.
The good news of the gospel is that in Christ, the goodness of God is made visible. When we begin to understand that He is good for us, we will do anything to cultivate His presence in our lives. It is then that we will begin to devour Scripture, not simply for knowledge, but to enjoy His presence. It is then that we will begin to cultivate spiritual disciplines and habits that reorient our affections to Christ. When we see that God is good for us, we will begin to see that all of humanity’s longings, yearnings and desires can be satisfied by God alone.
This is the arc of human history—not just that God is good to us, but that God will be with us as our highest good. The greatest hope of the Christian isn’t that God does good things for us, but that one day He will be with us. “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3). We will one day be in the presence of our good God, and it will be our highest satisfaction.
So not only is God good to us, but even better, God is good for us. “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good,” writes the psalmist (Psalm 34:8)—and our hope is that one day we will.