The Goodness and Severity of God


Mike Willis
Alexandria, Indiana

Recently when talking with a Christian in regard to a matter of disagreement, when faced with the realization that he had no scriptural evidence for his position, he said, "God is a good God; he will have mercy on me." No person who has studied the Bible will deny that God is a good God.

We can consider God's goodness to man in sending his Son to be our Savior. Why should God be so good as to send his only begotten Son to die for sinful men? On the other hand, God's severity is seen in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire. Both of these acts manifest the goodness and severity of God far beyond the comprehension of men.

Thus we have seen that God is a good and a severe God. But let us now consider the argument made on the goodness of God. Does God's goodness save a person when he is doing something that is without scriptural authority? Rom. 11:22 contains the statement regarding the two-fold character of God, his goodness and severity, so let us notice the context.

The scripture is dealing with the Jew and Gentile both being part of the "tree" of faith. Those Jewish members are called the "natural branch" and the Gentile members are represented by the branch which was "grafted in." Paul was arguing to show that the Jew (the natural branch) was broken off because of his unbelief and the Gentiles (the grafted branch) were "grafted in" because of their faith. Paul's entire message is that each person should be fearful of the severity of God, and therefore should take heed lest he fall. God's goodness is dependent upon remaining within the realm of faith. Therefore, we conclude that God's goodness is not to be used as an argument for justifying a practice that is not to be found in God's Word.

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Author: jfm

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