Q4j The Truth of God

This mindmap represents my notes from the Doctrine Class this afternoon, the final one from Question 4:

What is God?
Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

Aspects of the Atonement: Reconciliation

Today’s doctrine class was led by Jeff Gilbert. Jeff’s notes are attached to this link: Leon Morris – Reconciliation

Q4i The Goodness of God

These are my notes from the class that met yesterday, 3th June 2012. At the end is Wesley’s hymn that Tozer quotes the first two verses of in his chapter on this topic. A quick search of the web revealed that there are ten verses! I was well aware of Wesley’s monumental ‘Come O Thou Traveller unknown’, which takes Jacob’s wrestle with the Son of God as it’s theme. So I was delighted to realise that that this hymn is inspired by Moses’ prayer to be shown God’s glory in Exodus 33 & 34. It is a wonderful hymn.


Every week we remind ourselves that Question 4 asks: What is God?
Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

Classic verses:

Luke 18:19. None is good save one, and that is God
Nahum 1:7. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; he knoweth them that trust in him.

How ‘Goodness’ differs from ‘Mercy’?

Watson’s chapter is entitled ‘The Mercy of God’, equating goodness and mercy.
I like Flavel goodness ‘differs in its objects’ – mercy implies a power relationship, goodness does not. But we do well to avoid driving too hard a distinction.
‘God’s mercy is his glory’ Watson: when Moses said to God, ‘I beseech thee show me thy glory;’ the Lord answered him, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will shew thee mercy’ (Ex. 33:19). God’s mercy is his glory. His ‘Holiness makes him illustrious; his mercy makes him propitious.’ Watson


Watson: In Ex34:6 there are six expressions vs. one for justice:  ‘The Lord, merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness…’ (Ex. 34:6)
God is more inclined to mercy than wrath: compare Micah 7:18 ‘I delight in mercy’ with Ezek 33:11 ‘Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?’
‘So that the Lord could bear no longer, because of the evil of your doings’ (Jer. 44:22).
‘He is slow to anger’ (Ps. 103:8), but ‘ready to forgive’ (Ps. 86:5).
Watson: ‘Mercy sweetens all other attributes’ imagine holiness without mercy!

What are its properties

It is seasonable goodness, Heb. 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need
It is soul-satisfying, Psalm 107:9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
It is immutable and everlasting, Psalm 52:1 Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.

What it amounts to

Practical help

Matt. 5:45 — “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Acts 14:17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

Covenant mercies

Lev 26:3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; 4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. 6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down , and none shall make you afraid : and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. 7 And ye shall chase your enemies , and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight : and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. 9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful , and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. 10 And ye shall eat old store , and bring forth the old because of the new. 11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
At about this point the question was raised: If God’s mercy and goodness and mercy are infinite, how can we understand the limits placed upon them when he condemns the wicked? 
We must remember, as was said last week, as Tozer says: God is never at cross-purposes with himself. All his attributes are held in perfect balance. His infinite goodness includes infinite holiness and justice. With great candour and simplicity he addresses those who sin and rebel against their Maker and their own selves, ‘kiss the Son’. But they would not (cf. Matt 23).

How is God’s goodness seen in his design of salvation?

In remembering us in our low state, Psalm 136:23; laying our help on his own Son, the mighty One, Psalm 89:19; and in setting him up as a new covenant head from everlasting, Prov. 8:23.

How does it appear in the execution of our redemption?

In sending his Son to assume our nature, and thus to fulfil all righteousness for us, John 3:16, Jer. 23:6; and on the foundation of that righteousness, giving us grace and glory, and every good thing, from a cup of cold water, to a seat with him on his throne, Psalm 84:11; Rev. 3:21.

Domino effect

One act of mercy leads to another act of mercy, on into eternity!


  1. Psalm 119:68. ‘Thou art good, and doest good.
  2. This relative goodness is nothing else but his mercy, which is an innate propenseness in God to pity and succour such as are in misery. TWatson
  3. ‘The Lord is good to all’ (Ps. 145:9) even the worst! Name your ‘Trophies of grace’
  4. Paul: ‘Who was before a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy’ (1 Tim. 1:13). [The example of Doreen Irvine was an inspiration to one of our number, who had said to themselves that ‘If she could be saved, then there was hope for me’! ]
  5. The Goodness of God leads you to repentance Rom 2:4
  6. He loves righteousness and justice: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. Ps33:5
  7. ‘I will love them freely’ (Hos. 14:4)
  8. Rev 22:17 the Spirit and the bride say , Come . And let him that heareth say , Come . And let him that is athirst come . And whosoever will , let him take the water of life freely.
  9. Neh 9:17 And refused to obey , neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.
  10. Psalm 34:8. O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.


  1. Go to God in prayer with confidence in this mercy; as when one goes to a fire, not doubtingly, saying, perhaps it will warm me, perhaps not.
  2. Do not abuse this goodness: ‘Mercy is not for them that sin and fear not, but for them that fear and sin not.’ TWatson
  3. Sheer extent is great topic for meditation: Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies’ (Ps. 103:4), “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” 1 Cor. 2:9. And Psalm 31:19 — “O! how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee.” This is more than condescension… it is overwhelming, overflowing goodness

How it should affect us

‘I would hate my own soul,’ says Augustine, ‘if I did not find it loving God.’
As monuments of God’s mercy, we should be trumpeters of praise; you that have tasted the Lord is gracious, tell others what experiences you have had of God’s mercy, that you may encourage them to seek to him for mercy. ‘I will tell you what God hath done for my soul’ (Ps. 66:16
Does goodness and mercy make you happy and humble?


O God, my hope, my heavenly rest,
My all of happiness below,
Grant my importunate request,
To me, to me, thy goodness show;
Thy beatific face display,
The brightness of eternal day.
2. Before my faith’s enlightened eyes
Make all thy gracious goodness pass;
Thy goodness is the sight I prize,
O might I see thy smiling face!
Thy nature in my soul proclaim,
Reveal thy love, thy glorious name!
3. There, in the place beside thy throne,
Where all that find acceptance stand,
Receive me up into thy Son;
Cover me with thy mighty hand;
Set me upon the rock, and hide
My soul in Jesu’s wounded side.
4. O put me in the cleft; empower
My soul the glorious sight to bear!
Descend in this accepted hour,
Pass by me, and thy name declare;
Thy wrath withdraw, thy hand remove,
And show thy self the God of love.
5. To thee, great God of love! I bow,
And prostrate in thy sight adore;
By faith I see thee passing now;
I have, but still I ask for more,
A glimpse of love cannot suffice,
My soul for all thy presence cries.
6. I cannot see thy face, and live,
Then let me see thy face, and die!
Now, Lord, my gasping spirit receive,
Give me on eagles’ wings to fly,
With eagles’ eyes on thee to gaze,
And plunge into the glorious blaze.
7. The fulness of my vast reward
A blest eternity shall be;
But hast thou not on earth prepared
Some better thing than this for me?
What, but one drop! one transient sight!
I want a sun, a sea of light.
8. Moses thy backward parts might view,
But not a perfect sight obtain;
The Gospel doth thy fulness show
To us, by the commandment slain;
The dead to sin shall find the grace,
The pure in heart shall see thy face.
9. More favoured than the saints of old,
Who now by faith approach to thee
Shall all with open face behold
In Christ the glorious Deity;
Shall see, and put the Godhead on,
The nature of thy sinless Son.
10. This, this is our high calling’s prize!
Thine image in thy Son I claim;
And still to higher glories rise,
Till all transformed I know thy name,
And glide to all my heaven above,
My highest heaven in Jesu’s love.