Tag Archives: God

Is It Wrong To Call Someone “Good”?

Today I was asked a very good question.

Jesus said, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).  Therefore, should Christians refrain from calling anyone “good,” as in “So-and-so is a good person”?

The Greek word translated in English as “good” in Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler is agathos, which is defined as “of good constitution or nature,” “useful, salutary,” “good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy,” “excellent, distinguished,” and “upright, honourable.”

Jesus used this same Greek word when he talked of how his Father made his sun to rise on the evil “and on the good” (Matt. 5:45).  He used it when he said, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things” (Matt. 12:35).  He used it in a parable when he talked of servants who “gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good” (Matt. 22:10), and in another parable when he told of the master who said to his servant, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21, 23).

In like manner, Luke was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God (2 Pet. 1:19-21) to use this same Greek word to describe Joseph and Barnabas (Luke 23:50; Acts 11:24).  Paul also was inspired to use this same word when he wrote, “…though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die” (Rom. 5:7).

Therefore, it’s clear from how “good” is used repeatedly throughout Scripture to describe imperfect human beings that it is not sinful or erroneous to refer to certain of our fellow man as “good.”  So why did Jesus say to the rich young ruler, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18)?

First, remember that God is the ultimate epitome of goodness due to his sinless perfection and boundless love, patience, grace, and compassion.  While we imperfect human beings can justifiably and biblically be called “good” in certain ways and by various degrees as shown above, none of us can ever attain the degree of goodness possessed by Jehovah due to our sin (Rom. 3:23).

Secondly, Jesus IS God (John 1:1, 14; 10:30; 17:11, 22; 14:9; Phil. 2:6; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15, 19).  This fact was brought up repeatedly by him during his preaching and by the miracles he wrought throughout his earthly ministry (cf. Mark 2:5-12).  Because of this, it is clear that when the rich young ruler initially addressed him as “Good Teacher” (Mark 10:17), Jesus immediately saw another opportunity to proclaim himself as Deity.  Thus, he replied, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone” (v. 18), a subtle but definite hint to the ruler, anyone else who was listening, and to us as readers today that the ruler was addressing Deity when he spoke to Jesus.

Thus, one should take “No one is good except God alone” not as an indictment of sin by Christ against referring to anyone other than God as “good.”  If that was the case, Christ himself as well as his inspired apostles and prophets would have violated his own edict by referring both generally and specifically to imperfect human beings as “good.”  Rather, one should interpret Jesus’ statement to the rich young ruler primarily as an implication of his Deity and secondarily as an indication that our own goodness can never compare to the goodness of God.

One Body, One Spirit, One Hope, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God…

There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:4-6 – Scripture of the Day (January 23, 2014)

Let’s break this down:

“One body” – Defined a few chapters earlier as the church of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; cf. Col. 1:18), and in the following chapter also (Eph. 5:23).  Christ’s body is his church, and there is only one body…hence, only one church as far as God is concerned.  So why all these different churches with their different names and different doctrines that all claim to follow Christ?  See 2 Timothy 4:3-4.  Here’s the important question:  Christ is the Savior of this body, this church (Eph. 5:23).  Do you want Christ to be your Savior?  Be a part of the one body, the one church.

“One Spirit” – the Holy Spirit, who inspired the writers of the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:19-21), whose writings if followed will produce “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

“One hope that belongs to your call” – We are called by the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14), the good news of the love of God shown in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8), through whom we have hope (Rom. 5:2), the hope of eternal life and salvation (Rom. 8:24-25; cf. 2 Cor. 4:16-5:10).

“One Lord” – Jesus Christ, our only Master.  Only in him do we find the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  Here’s a thought to ponder, however.  It’s easy to call Jesus our Lord, but do our actions back up our words?  Study very carefully Matthew 7:21-27, and then examine yourselves.

“One faith” – Want an interesting project to do?  Get out the Yellow Pages, turn to “Churches,” examine the numerous different kinds of churches listed there under all those sub-headings, and call each one.  Ask to speak to the preacher or some other authority in the church.  Ask them to tell you what that church believes and why they believe it.  You won’t get to the “D” section in the sub-headings before you see just how many different “faiths” man has come up with.  What does God say?  There’s only one faith, and it comes from the words of Christ (Rom. 10:17).  He wants his followers to all say the same things and be completely united (John 17:20-23; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; Phil. 2:1-2), and the only way that’s going to happen is by sticking only to God’s Word (Prov. 30:6).

“One baptism” – Different churches today baptize in different ways for different reasons.  Sprinkling, pouring, immersion, etc.  Done as a sign that you’ve already been saved, done for remission of sins, done to save a baby from sins he or she inherited from their parents, etc.  What does God say?  There’s only one baptism.  Every time you read about baptism in the New Testament, you’re reading a transliteration of a Greek word which means to immerse, so that means that the one baptism is immersion.  Sprinkling and pouring are out.  It’s done for several reasons according to the New Testament.  Want to be saved?  Read Mark 16:16 and 1 Peter 3:21.  Want your sins forgiven?  Read Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16.  Want to be in Christ and clothed with him?  Read Galatians 3:27.  Want to be spiritually circumcised by God?  Read Colossians 2:11-12.  Want to be spiritually buried and raised from the dead?  Read Romans 6:3-4.  Want to be a part of that one body of Christ, his church of which he is the Savior?  Read 1 Corinthians 12:13.  Want to know the requirements for baptism?  Read Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, and Acts 8:12, 35-38, and you’ll see that only penitent believers who confess their faith in Christ as the Son of God are candidates for baptism.  That rules out babies.  Here’s the thing, friends.  We hear baptism is something that has nothing to do with salvation.  After reading all of these verses from THE BIBLE, do you still believe that?

“One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” – There is only one God, one Father of us all…and that is the God of the Bible.  Think you can hide from him?  The writer of Hebrews says it best:  “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13).  Are you ready to give an account to God?  (2 Cor. 5:10)

Only Be Strong And Very Courageous…

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:7-9 – Scripture Of The Day (January 9, 2014)

If Dwight Eisenhower stood in Joshua’s shoes, he would have much reason to be afraid.  Cross a body of water that separates you from the enemy’s terrain by…asking men carrying a box of gold to start to walk into it so that it will turn into dry land?? (Josh. 3:1ff)  Attack a walled, fortified city and cause its walls to fall down by…marching around it while playing music and shouting?? (Josh. 6:1ff)  I wonder how long it would have taken FDR to show Eisenhower the door if he had proposed similar battle plans for D-Day.  No wonder the Bible says Joshua and Israel did these things “by faith” (Heb. 11:30).

Here’s the thing, friends.  God has not asked us to perform miracles today like he did back then…but he HAS told us to abide by his Word and not turn from it just as he did with Joshua (Matt. 7:21-27; John 8:31-32; 14:15, 21, 23-24; 15:10, 14; Rom. 6:17-18; Heb. 5:9; 1 John 3:24; 5:2-3).  Of themselves, his commandments are not hard (1 John 5:3).  It is not inherently hard to submit to immersion for forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), to treat others as you would want to be treated (Matt. 7:12), to continually add to your faith the Christian attributes God would have you to possess (2 Pet. 1:5-11; Eph. 4:20-5:21), to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and to bring the gospel to a lost world (Mark 16:15).  However, what often makes them hard for us to accomplish as we should is fear and discouragement, the very things God told Joshua to avoid.  Even though what he has told us to do is in itself much easier than marching around a walled city expecting it to fall with a shout, how often do we find it hard to share the gospel because of the fear of persecution?  How often do we find it difficult let our light shine in the way in which God wants because of dismay and discouragement (assuming prideful, stubborn, selfishness is not also a factor)?

What we must remember is that the same God who promised to be with Joshua and give him success in his endeavors to obey his will is also with us and has given us that same promise (Matt. 6:25-34; 28:18-20; Heb. 13:5b-6; 1 John 4:4).  Not only that, but he has promised us continual forgiveness if we become Christians through penitent baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16) and then humbly confess and repent of our sins afterwards (1 John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22; 2 Cor. 7:9-11).  That means that we have an inheritance in eternal Heaven no matter what happens to us in this life!  (1 Pet. 1:3-7)  If we make our top priority being faithful citizens of his kingdom and being righteous in his sight (Matt. 6:33), he will supply for us what we truly need both in this life and in the next!  So let’s be strong and courageous…for God is with us as we stand for him!