31 May, 2018

Westminster Confession XXI, 1—“a God, who … is good, and does good unto all”

The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture (WCF 21:1).

“Grace and mercy are aspects or principles of God’s ‘goodness’ (Exodus 33:18-19; 34:6). Therefore, whenever God ‘is good, and does good unto all,’ as WCF 21:1 says, does that not also imply He is showing grace and mercy? … God displays His nature of grace in acts of grace whenever He is ‘good’ to the sinner. All acts of God’s goodness toward men are also acts of love or benevolence, and flow from a nature inclined towards benevolence.” (K. W. Stebbins, “Christ Freely Offered” [1978])


Prof. David J. Engelsma

As for Westminster’s declaration that God does good to all, it is the same as the Bible’s testimony that God makes His sun to rise on all and His rain to fall on all (Matt. 5:45).  The deeds themselves are good; the gifts themselves are good.  All enjoy the good gifts, both the godly and the ungodly.  For the gifts, the ungodly owe God thanks.  With the gifts, they ought to glorify God.  That they rather use the good things to oppose God is ingratitude.  For this unthankfulness they can never blame either the gifts or the Giver.  The fault is strictly their own.  But the gifts are not blessings.  They do not come in the love of God for the reprobate.  Neither are they accompanied by the blessing of God that would make them good for the recipient.  Rather, they come to those who remain, and whom God determines shall remain, in their depravity, with the necessary result that the wicked misuse the good gifts and have the gifts turn to their greater condemnation and punishment.  Grace is not in things, but in the attitude of God and in His grace that makes things work for the good and salvation of humans.  Hence, Lazarus with almost no things is blessed, while the rich man with an abundance of things is cursed.  Common grace errs among other ways in identifying blessing with things.  Blessing is the attitude of God towards humans in Jesus Christ.  One is blessed in things if God gives the things with an attitude of favor and if therefore the things are used thankfully and in a holy life. (13/05/2018)



More to come! (DV)

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