GOD IS GOOD
In the Bible, the two concepts – ‘the goodness of God’ and ‘the salvation of our souls’ – are inter-connected. Because God is good, He has given us the best and greatest gift for this life and for the life to come. And that gift is salvation. The health, wealth and happiness we enjoy in this life are also God’s gifts. Because God is good, He blesses us with all these things which we receive and enjoy with gratitude to Him, don’t we? Love, kindness, mercy, longsuffering and faithfulness are some of the attributes through which God’s goodness touches us. But, our response to God’s goodness determines our eternal destiny!
The Greatest Gift
What is salvation and why does the Bible proclaim it as God’s greatest and best gift to man? The Oxford dictionary defines salvation as the act of saving – the state of having been saved – from sin and its consequences; that which saves somebody from loss, disaster, etc., is salvation. Broadly, salvation means deliverance, or freedom, from danger or difficulty.
The word ‘salvation’ or its equivalent appears in the Bible more than a hundred times, and each time it is in reference to God’s love and goodness as revealed in His own initiative to rescue mankind from sin’s bondage and spiritual death. Whether he admits it or not, man is a slave to sin and is unable to save himself from its firm grip (Ezek.18:4;Rom.6:23a).
Immediately after God, through Moses, delivered the nation of Israel from their centuries of slavery in Egypt, they sang a song, expressing their thanks to God for His salvation (Exo.15:1-18). With this salvation came also the responsibility of trusting God completely for their needs. Tragically, their initial response of gratitude to God almost quickly changed to grumbling in the desert and a desire to go back to Egypt! They failed to trust God to provide them water and food in the desert and soon forgot God’s supernatural acts that resulted in their deliverance from Egypt.
Alas, there are many Christians who secretly grumble and murmur against God whenever they go through hard times and entertain memories of the ‘good times’ they had before they were set free from sin and its dominion, just as the Israelites did.
Because God wanted to bless the obstinate people of Judah, He told them what would save them from their enemies. “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation… but you would have none of it” (Isa.30:15). Isaiah went on to tell them how gracious God would be to them when they cried to Him for help, even though He allowed adversity and affliction in their lives for a time (Isa.30:18-22).
From inside the fish, Jonah prayed thus to the Lord his God, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs, but I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you… Salvation comes from the Lord” (Jonah.2:8,9). After this prayer, the fish vomited Jonah onto dry land. When Jonah finally obeyed God and preached the message of repentance in the great city of Nineveh, the Ninevites believed God! God’s goodness, and the peoples’ response to it by humbling themselves before God, resulted in the salvation of an entire city (Jonah.3:1-5).
Salvation To One And All
Simeon waited all his life to see the salvation of the Lord his God and, holding Baby Jesus in his arms, praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation” (Lk.2:29,30).
The chief tax collector Zacchaeus, who was known as a ‘sinner’, welcomed Jesus into his home and this encounter resulted in salvation and transformation of his entire family. “Today salvation has come to this house” (Lk.19:9).
When Peter and John were being used by the Holy Spirit in delivering and healing demon-possessed and crippled people, calling them to repent of their sins and turn to God, the priests and the captain of the temple guard were greatly disturbed and ordered the disciples to be put in jail. When they were brought before the Sanhedrin the next day for interrogation, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, testified that it was by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom they crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that the crippled man was healed. Peter concluded his defence with these words, “Salvation is found in no one else…” (Acts.4:12).
God, out of His goodness, gives us the opportunity to repent and turn to Him so that we escape His wrath and judgment that will one day fall on all who refuse to repent (Rom.2:4-11). “How can we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” (Heb.2:3).
“…our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed… So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us behave decently… not in dissension and jealousy” (Rom.13:11-13).
In all the instances cited above, when men, women and children responded to God’s goodness by turning from their sin and believing in Jesus Christ, they received salvation – their souls were saved. While the dead were brought to life and all kinds of physical and mental sicknesses were healed, worldly prosperity is not mentioned even once as something resulting from God’s goodness. In fact, everyone who received salvation was blessed with a life that was capable of bearing the fruit of God’s Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal.5:22, 23).
Sadly, many people ignore, or do not receive, the salvation that God offers freely out of His abundant goodness. The Bible tells us in these words why many ignore this gift, “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (Jn.3:19-20).
With the gift of salvation comes responsibility and obligation – to be a wise and good steward of the gift. Many would rather forfeit the precious gift than receive it and live responsibly as God intends them to! The Bible says they love the darkness and refuse to come to the light (1 Pet.2:1-2).
If you have tasted that the Lord is good, you will crave for the pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation… (1Peter 2:2-3).
Your response to God’s goodness will determine your eternal destiny!