The foundation has been laid in his previous chapters to establish that whatever God is, He is all of it. In the chapter on Infinitude, God was described as being the perfect and complete expression of the qualities He possesses. If He is loving, then there isn’t a part of Him that is not love. If He is all-knowing, then God literally knows everything that can be known. If there is an attribute that applies to God, then God is all of it without limitations. Tozer builds on this attribute in the next chapter by describing God’s Immensity. God is bigger than His creation, all of it. He exists outside of all that has been made and therefore is not subject to anything within it. He has full dominion over everything and yet He takes pleasure in having us come to Him and draw everything we need for this life, and the next, directly from Him.
With those to ideas in tow, Tozer declares that. “the basic trouble with the Church today is her unworthy conception of God… our religion is little because our god is little. Our religion is weak because our God is weak. Our religion is ignoble because the god we serve is ignoble. We do not see God as He is.” As a result, he comments, the local church will only be as great as her conception of God and that her success or failure hinges on the understanding of God, “the way she thinks of God.”
This is where the attribute of God’s goodness comes in. God is not only always good, but He is goodness. This means that God is, “kindhearted, gracious, good-natured and benevolent in intention… He is gracious and His intentions are kind and benevolent. We would believe that God never thinks any bad thoughts about anybody.” God’s heart is infinitely kind without any boundaries to His kindness and doesn’t have “bad days” for which He must atone or apologize. God’s disposition is always to be kind and gracious even when there is cause for justice and judgment. He does not abandon one attribute even when the expression of His will seems to contradict it. Romans 11:22 reminds us that God is not only good but He is also severe, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness…” Those who can receive God’s goodness are those who are willing to accept it from Him while, as Tozer states,
“If a man will not take God’s goodness, then he must have God’s severity toward all who continue in moral revolt against the throne of God and in rebellion against the virtuous laws of God.”
This reveals a God who is not erratic or unpredictable. Instead, we see that God is good and kind in giving us a clear instruction and guideline of what He requires. The Word of God is given so that we might know Him, and in reading it, we would observe the patience of God at work.
The kindness of God was put on display in the coming of Christ and taking on flesh and walking among us. As Hebrews 2:17-18 and 4:15-16 states, He is therefore able to sympathize and empathize with our struggles and temptations. The God of the Bible is not one who stands aloof disseminating decrees to see how badly He can trip us up, but the God of goodness who is seeking the very best for us, Himself alone. Paul understood this in Philippians when he writes that “whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
The goodness of God is not only understood as kindness but also favor. Goodness is revealed in the pleasure God takes in redeeming the lost and broken in his or her sin. God doesn’t take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11) but as a Shepherd who has found a lost sheep, He, with His angels, celebrate the repentance of one lost one. This is the context of the worship that takes place in heaven in Revelation 5:9 as those gathered before Christ praise Him as the only one able to redeem those lost in sin, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” Tozer responds to Revelation with, “And worthy is the goodness of God that out of His infinite kindness, His unchanging, perfect lovingkindness, He made amends for us… turning all our sin into endless worship.”
God is not repelled or revolted by our sinful “wretchedness”. He is well aware of our shortcomings and is under no delusion that we will one day climb to the top of His holy mountain on our own. We were, and are, always in need of a Savior to make us righteous so that His goodness would replace ours and it gives Him pleasure to give it to us. Tozer comments, “He wills that you joy along with Him. The everlasting marvel and the high, overpassing love of God, the irresistible love of God, out of His goodness sees us perfect even though we are not perfect. And He wants us to be glad in Him.” God is good and kind and pleased to give us what we least deserve so that we could have what only He can provide.
Tozer leaves us with a final question. “Did you ever stop to think that God is going to be as pleased to have you with Him in heaven as you are to be there? The goodness and mercy of God, the loving kindness of the Lord – it’s wonderful!” Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.
Until next time when we consider: God’s Justice.