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The Goodness of God (Part 2 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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November 1, 2023 4:00 am

The Goodness of God (Part 2 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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November 1, 2023 4:00 am

“Carpe diem!” is a phrase used to urge someone to make the most of the present time with little thought for the future. Find out how knowing God changes how believers live now and consider what lies ahead. Join us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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You've no doubt heard the phrase carpe diem or seize the day which is often used to urge someone to make the most of the present time with little regard for the future. Today on Truth for Life we'll find out that knowing God changes how we live now and how we think about what lies ahead. Alistair Begg is teaching from Nehemiah chapter 9 verses 6 through 15.

I have one main heading this morning. It's the first of four which will follow, and it is simply this—God's goodness is revealed in all that he has done. And this is expressed very clearly between verse 6 and verse 15. Well then, in what way has God revealed his goodness in his dealings with man? First of all, we're told in verse 6, in the act of creation, You alone are the LORD, you made the heavens, even the highest heavens and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them.

You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. God, you see, is self-existent. God is self-sufficient. God did not need a universe, nor did God need creatures. God is perfectly at one within the framework of the Trinity. So then, why a universe?

Answer? Because God is good. And it is only his goodness which explains the fact that the whole of creation was brought out of the womb and the darkness of nothingness. It is, says the writer here, God who set the stars in place and structured the heavens. It is God who has set up his lampstands, if you like, or his lampposts, to direct our motion and to regulate our seasons. The activities of our world, of the solar system, are directly under the control and the care and the creative power of Almighty God. He has created the earth, we're told, and he has regulated the seas, both in terms of their tidal movements and also in terms of the content of them.

God has provided for us all that we need, and it is he who on account of his goodness has done it. The psalmist says, How many are your works, O LORD, in wisdom you made them all? He didn't simply give us a variety of senses, but he provided us with a whole host of objects to gratify the senses he had given us. You see, loved ones, when we begin to think about the universe and the act of creation in terms of a personal God, it is a wonderful thing. God didn't simply give us the ability to see but provided for us lots of beauty that we might behold. He granted to us light for our eyes, and he granted to us colors—wonderful immensities of color.

And every time that we look from an aircraft at the manifold provision and development of color scheme on the earth, we ought to say, at least in our hearts if not out loud, truly, God is good. He didn't simply give us ears, but he has provided for us the most wonderful sounds, so that that which he has given us a sense, he may then provide for us as a benefit. So that to wake in the morning to the sound of the birds, to lie in the afternoon and to hear the great creaking and groaning of creation and hearing the trees move in the breeze, the whole creation cries out, God is good. He didn't just give us noses and nostrils, but he gave us the beauty of perfume and the wonder of flowers and the magnificence of all that would be within our gardens, so that we might take it in as it were and say, Truly, God is good. He didn't just give us palates and taste buds, but he gave us the choices to foods and the most unbelievable creation of fruit produce and the immensity of vegetables and the great harmony of his creative purpose, so that we who are mere mortals might take all of this and say, God, you are so good! Because he could have made us simply to be lumps of stone. Of course, we would have never known, because we would have just been lumps of stone, but he could have made us just to be lumps of stone. He could have made us simply creatures. He could have made us just part of the animal kingdom.

Why didn't he? Because God is good. And he wanted to grant to us the privilege of knowing him and enjoying him forever. He took what was essentially a little clod of earth and dust, and he ennobled it. He poured into it life and riches and fullness, so that he might, out of the lips of even the tiniest child, ordain strength and proclaim the immensity of his being. Beyond that, we're told, he gave to man dominion over all that he had made. All that is else in creation exists to serve man.

Are you listening, young people? It's going to be very important for you that you have this burned into your tiny, young, formative minds. For so much that will be told you from other sources denies this from the absolute beginning—denies the existence of a personal God, denies the existence of his interest in creation, denies the fact that all creation testifies to his goodness.

And you need to sit down underneath this instruction and ask God to burn it into your mind, so that you may live differently and with conviction in a world that has no notion of it. Psalm 8 is as perfect a statement of it as any in the Psalms, where we have that wonderful question, When I consider your heaven—Psalm 8 verse 3—the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place. What is man that you are mindful of him, the Son of man, that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings. You crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands. You put everything under his feet—all flocks and herds and beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the seas.

O LORD our LORD, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Packer says the weakness of the church can be traced to an absence of a knowledge of God. Think about how weak the church is in magnifying God's goodness in the realm of creation. Think of all our backpedaling and our stumbling and our bumbling to accommodate an evolutionary hypothesis. How pathetic we all are! Because we want to be thought bright, because we want to be thought intellectual, because we are unprepared to take the simple truth of God's Word, which begins, In the beginning God, the Creator God, manifested his goodness in establishing all as is.

We are not simply turbocharged monkeys. You can believe that if you choose, but you will limp through life. The implications of this theology are clear.

You have a couple of options. You can believe as is taught in contemporary philosophy, certainly in this spirit of existentialism, magnified in the film The Dead Poet's Society. You remember when he takes those boys out into the corridor, and he shows them all the pictures of the men that have been there in the past—all the cricket teams and the rugby teams and so on—and he says to them, Boys, you'll be like this one day. You will simply be a memory in a case. Now, what he is saying is not simply, You've got a lot of life, therefore, use it. He is saying more than that.

He is saying, There is nothing more to life than this. Your only chance is now, before the shadows fall upon you. These are your only moments of opportunity. Therefore, carpe diem! Seize the day!

Make it all happen now! Well, then, let's watch as Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, whose picture I cannot get from my mind, as Kurt Cobain essentially grows up under that instruction—grows up believing that you're born without reason, you preserve your life by chance, and you die and go into oblivion. Did it then matter for him that he had, as it were, a teenage universe that worshiped at his shrine? Could it meet the deepest longings of his life, that he was a multimillionaire, that he could go where he chose, when he chose, with whom he chose, that he had a whole universe, as it were, as it is command?

No, it didn't matter. I'll rap for him in the end. Why?

Because somewhere along the line, somebody had never told this young man, You want to know something, Kurt? God is good. God loves you. God can give meaning to your existence.

Transform your grunge with grace. You see, the great challenge to those of us who are believers this morning is simply this—that when we sit and listen to this on a Sunday morning, we know that by Monday morning at the latest, we are going back into a great warfare concerning these things. That our neighbors and our friends largely have a worldview which conceives of God either as some kind of impersonal cosmic principle or thinks of him in very personal terms and likes to say, Well, you know, I believe in God, and God is whatever I want him to be.

What are we going to say to that? Well, we're going to say, No, we're living at the end of four centuries of God shrinking. No longer do men and women commonly believe that God is the source and the sustainer and the end of all things. Man is filled with big thoughts of man and small thoughts of God.

How about you? Do you know God? Do you know God like this? Or are you just somebody that is interested in preserving religious exercises in an irreligious world? I'm going to tell you something—that if that was what I was about, you would never see me again.

Never. If somehow or another the exercise of religion was some arm's-length, remote configuration of a possibility and the maybe of some divine source of being who might be, could be, possibly is, and so on into the rambling labyrinths of nonsense, then why would any of us waste our time? There's good coffee to be drunk. There's good golf courses to be played. There are good books to be read.

There's a wonderful lake on which to sail. Now, let me just take one step further, and then I will conclude. God has revealed his goodness in all that he has done. What has he done? Well, he's created.

Secondly, he has elected. Look at verse 7. You are the Lord God who chose Abram and brought him up out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. Now, before we're tempted just to jump over that, I want to say in conclusion this morning that this is a wonderful verse, and the little statement which follows is quite incredible. God elected Abraham.

That's the kind of technical theological word which both the Old Testament and the New Testament proclaims. You see, when God called Abraham, or Abram, who knew him? Well, his mom knew him. His dad knew him. Brothers and sisters knew him, and a few people in the town knew him, but nobody else knew him. Nobody would have picked him out from the crowd. Abram wasn't born in some special way, with a big sign hanging over his head.

No. Abram was just one of a vast number of Semitic people that were roaming that area of the Middle East. Indeed, his dad and his grandpa were idol worshipers. When he grew up in his home, instead of there being this knowledge of the Creator God, the God of great creative power, the God who had brought the events to bear surrounding Noah, etc., Abram didn't grow up with that. Abram grew up with the worship of idols. Abram had nothing in his life that was peculiarly beneficial that would commend him to God. There was nothing in his life that he could point to as merit.

There was nothing in his ancestry that would say, Hey, God, I'm over here! You like me? I'm Abram! God came, knocked at the door of Abram's life, called him out—you can read it in Genesis 12—said, Hey, Abram, I want you to go somewhere. Why?

How? Well, isn't that what God has done in the lives of those who have come to faith? Did you grow up? Were you born with a halo over the house? Did you manifest in your tender years some insatiable appetite for the Word of God? Were you, as a teenage boy or girl, somehow seeking and longing and looking for God, or were you not, like most of us, running away to hide?

Did your marriage begin with a great honoring of God for his goodness, or were you just married, and did you go on your way? Did there come a point—did there not come a point in your life where somehow, miraculously, there came a knock at your door, and it was God who called your name? And indeed, I want to say to you this morning, there are some of you in this building for worship, and you can't honestly, rationally explain what you're doing here. If someone had even told you three months ago that you would be in here, you'd say, You've got rocks in your head.

But you're here. Why? Because God displays his goodness in election. He purposes to have a people who are his very own. And he comes, and he calls by name, and he brings us out of a mighty pit and slimy clay, and he puts our feet upon a rock, and he establishes our going, and he puts a song in our hearts, even a song of praise to our God.

Why? Because God is good. May I ask you, have you heard his voice? Have you heard his knocking?

And if so, would you not come and trust in him? You see, loved ones, when we begin to understand that God's goodness is manifested in this way, a number of things will happen. Number one, it will shut up any boastfulness that there is in our lives about our believing in Jesus. We will not be a nuisance in our office. We will not be arrogant in our office. We will not make our non-Christian friends and neighbors feel as though if they would only get smart in the way in which we got smart, then their lives would be a whole lot better.

No. What we will manifest before our neighbors and our friends is the fact that we have discovered the goodness of God. Because we'll be able to tell them, I heard the voice of Jesus say, Come unto me and rest. Lay down, O weary one, lay down your head upon my breast. I came to Jesus, will be able to say, As I was and man was I messed up, weary, worn and sad, and I found in him a resting place.

And he has made me glad. When we understand God's goodness in his redeeming of a people for himself, it eliminates our boasting. It stimulates our love for God. If you really love your wife, men, and you really look at yourself in the mirror—physically, emotionally, mentally, in every way—you've got to be humble enough to say, Why would she ever love me?

How could she ever love me? To a far greater degree, when we look at our lives as we are and we hear the choir sing, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life, it draws from his people a great love. And when we understand these things, it stimulates us in evangelism. Because now we've come to understand that in the same way that God called Abram's name and he heard, God has purposed through all of time to call out names, and he never effectually calls a name but that the person hears.

What does that mean? It means this—that I can look around your gaze this morning to every one of you and say this with confidence. I invite you to hear God's welcome voice as he calls.

And I don't feel any pressure whatsoever to be coercive, manipulative, good. All I want to be is faithful, all believing this, that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, so that even today, in a passage of ancient history concerning a specific of biblical theology, there will be those in a group like this who hear God's voice and who must respond. Today, if you hear God's voice, do not harden your hearts.

You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg encouraging us to pay careful attention to God's call. As Alistair teaches the Bible every day here on Truth for Life, we are praying for you. We pray that God, by His grace, will move you and many others listening alongside you to enjoy a deeper and ever-growing relationship with Jesus.

In addition, we carefully select books to help you and your family grow in faith. And today, we're excited to let you know about an Advent devotional, 40 Daily Liturgies, designed to enhance your worship as you prepare your heart and look forward to Christmas. The book is entitled, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Now, if you attend church services, you may be familiar with a liturgy.

It's a term for a sequence of corporate worship. During each day of Advent, which begins this year on December 3rd, the book O Come, O Come, Emmanuel provides you with a similar sequence of prayers and hymns and scripture, all focused on the significance of Christmas. Each daily reading begins with a call to worship, followed by prayers of adoration, confession, pardon, and praise. The liturgies take about 20 minutes and will offer you a tremendously rich time of meditation as you look forward to and prepare to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus. This is perfect for personal use or you can use it with your family for daily, purposeful, Christ-centered worship throughout the Advent season from November 28th all the way through January 6th, when some celebrate Epiphany. Request your copy of the book O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. When you make a donation today, you can give a one-time gift at truthforlife.org slash donate, or you can arrange to set up an automatic monthly donation when you visit truthforlife.org slash truthpartner, or if you'd prefer, call us at 888-588-7884.

I'm Bob Lapine. Some people view God as an authoritarian who invented rules to control our lives and restrict our fun. Tomorrow we'll find out how God's rules actually reveal his love and goodness. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-01 05:01:26 / 2023-11-01 05:09:29 / 8

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