One important principle of Bible study is that if God says something one time, it is important and true. If He says it twice, it is VERY important. If He says something multiple times, it is something He considers to be crucial that we believe, receive, and live by. This principle is the subject of this article.
The context of the next scripture is that Paul and Barnabas are in a place named Lystra. They have just ministered healing to a formerly lame man in a miraculous way. The people there decide they must be two pagan gods (Zeus and Hermes) in human form and that they should make sacrifices to them to appease and honor them.
When these two Christians realize this, they are horrified and then begin to teach them about the One True God.
“(we) preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15b-17)
All that time throughout history God was a witness to Himself, a testimony to Who and how He really is, making sure people got what they really needed.
Paul says, “God did good”. Then he lists some good things that God has done for people…even for those (Gentiles) not faithful to Him.
It is such a simple phrase but it means SO MUCH. It doesn’t actually mean what we think when we hear it in English because the way we hear it merely implies that He did some good stuff. Those who heard it in the original Greek heard it more as an identity statement than a statement acknowledging one or more separate actions.
What they heard is this: “He is One Who dodoes good works works” or, even more precisely, “He is One Who shows His good nature by doing good things for people”.
We can do good things to be or become benevolent. We can do good things in hopes of convincing someone else that we are benevolent. God is not like that. God does good things because doing good things is WHO HE IS.
This is so important for us to grasp because the beginning of the Fall of Man started with satan implying to the Woman that God did not really have her best in mind. The serpent put doubt in her heart that God really was providing everything she and Adam needed.
Ever since that day, people are born with an instinctive suspicion toward God. The devil capitalizes on that and constantly hammers us with thoughts and ideas that all lead us to think that God is maliciously holding something back from us. Bad things happen and God is blamed. People do bad things to us and we blame God.
Where does that come from? It comes from a misconception about the nature of God…a misconception which can be traced all the way back to the Temptation.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” (Genesis 3:1-5)
From that time on we have doubted the heart of God, instinctively judging Him, the most trustworthy Being, to be unworthy of our trust.
Now, we can learn from how He deals with our distrust. Whereas, we might find ourselves trying to make people trust us, He doesn’t desperately scramble about to try to make us judge Him to be trustworthy.
He doesn’t need to do that. He is secure in Himself.
He simply goes on, being Himself.
“Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17)
“He is One Who does good works”
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8)
I believe that it would be beneficial for us all to ask the Lord to reveal to us if we truly believe He is good, is One Who does good works, and is One who REALLY is Love (1 John 4:16). If we don’t believe these things about Him, we will never fully release ourselves to him and will cheat ourselves out of experiencing Him.
If the Lord reveals this to us, we can ask Him to change our hearts toward Him and actively dedicate ourselves to repenting in this way.
Some who read this might never have prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord. Some may have prayed that prayer but have never been taught to trust Jesus in all things. Shockingly, this is all too common in the Church today.
My hope is that if either of these is your situation, you will reach out to us or some other sound Christians and be honest and frank about that. Then I hope you WILL pray to ask Jesus to be your Lord AND begin to learn how to allow Him to operate as your Lord.
That will involve learning to trust Him in all the arenas of your life. As you take the risks involved in not trying to be your own provider and protector in your flesh, you will come to know Him more and more by experiencing Him.
You will experience the reality that GOD IS GOOD. You’ll find yourself praising Him and thanking Him without someone having to tell you to do that. You heart will just burst and out will come praise and gratefulness.
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34)
This principle shows up, not only here in 1 Chronicles 16:34, but also in 2 Chronicles 7:3, Psalm 34:8, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 136:1, Psalm 135:3, and, really, all over the place in the Bible in different forms.
May we receive these truths and practice them and enjoy their fruit.