The Goodness of Heaven (7)
Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of thiscalling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of Hisgoodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.2 Thessalonians 1.11, 12
Called to goodness
We should expect that the followers of Jesus Christ will be a major source of the goodness of God coming to light in the land of the living. Individually and as communities, Christians are the primary means whereby the goodness of God fills the earth and points the world beyond its misery, uncertainty, and fears to the eternal hope of Jesus Christ. Believers are not saved because they do good works; salvation is all of God’s grace. We are saved unto good works, and this, too, is the work of God within us.
In many ways, doing good is what defines Christians as such. If we are truly followingJesus, then we will walk that path of obedience and good works which He walked (1 Jn. 2.1-6).
His good Spirit, dwelling within us, will bring forth the fruit of goodnessin us as, by His power, He transforms us increasingly into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
We have been redeemed and saved in Jesus Christ unto good works, which God has revealed from long ago to guide us in fulfilling our calling (Eph. 2.8-10).
He has given us His Word in Scripture, to equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3.15-17).
And we are called not to become weary in doing good works, especially to those who are within the household of faith (Gal. 6.9, 10).
The people of God, whom He has called to Himself in Jesus Christ, must make it their priority to become zealous for good works, always ready to do good, and careful to maintain those good works that fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness in us and in our world (Tit. 2.14; 3.1, 8, 14).
God at work
The good news is that we are not alone to carry out this high and holy calling. God is at work within us to will and do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2.13). His good pleasure is that we should live worthy lives, carrying out our calling to good works by trusting in Him and drawing on the indwelling power of His Spirit (Eph. 3.20).
God has not left us to ourselves either to figure out what His goodness requires, or to conjure up the will and strength to do good, even to those who hate us and spitefully use us and even persecute us (Matt. 5.44, 45). God Himself teaches us. God in His Spirit empowers us. And God in Jesus Christ leads us step by step into those words and deeds that fill the world with His presence and bring the goodness of God to light in the land of the living (Eph. 4.8-10).
Thus we fulfill His calling for our lives, as we walk in His Spirit, trust in His Word, and take those steps of faith that issue in good works to the people in our daily lives. Seeking the goodness of God and living His goodness in all our words and deeds, we enter into the pleasure of the Lord, where His glory radiates through us to magnify the precious Name of Jesus and His grace.
And there is no greater joy nor any more satisfying pleasure than entering into the pleasure of God (Ps. 16.11).
Love is not burdensome
The apostle John reminds us that love is our highest calling, and love is not burdensome. The good works we do in the power of God’s Spirit express the many ways Jesus’ love works through us to reach the world with God’s grace and truth. How could this possibly be burdensome? How can we not be zealous for good works, when we know that through those works Jesus demonstrates His love to the love-starved world?
If the goodness of God is truly to come to light in the land of the living, we, the followers of Jesus, will need to rally to that calling and embrace it energetically and with joy. It is not burdensome to love our neighbors, not when we’re depending on God and resting in His power and pleasure. But we need one another in this high calling, to encourage and exhort one another to love and good works (Heb. 10.24).
It is to this great calling, to embracing and pursuing it, that we turn in our final installment in this series. What can we do as believers to discover the goodness of God, shine the light of His goodness, and leaven this sad world with the glorious goodness of God, to the praise of the glory of His grace?
This is the question we will pursue in our final segment.
1. We’re not saved by good works, but unto them; we’re not saved by good works, but we’re not savedwithout them. Explain.
2. Why does doing good bring us into the pleasure of God? What is it like to find yourself in the pleasure of God?
3. All good works are expressions of the love of Jesus Christ. Explain.
Next steps – Conversation: What can believers do to encourage and exhort one another to love and good works? Talk with some Christian friends about this question.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.