How does God show goodness to those who never hear the gospel?

Recent articles have dealth with justice and goodness of God in sending people to hell. Though one can understand the necessity of hell and even admit eternal punishment in hell is good act by a good God. A small nagging thought remains that God is not really good to those who are condemned to hell. If God is really good and if Jesus’ death on the cross is sufficient to forgive every sin of every person why wouldn’t God make sure that every one believed the gospel? Yet God is good. He shows His goodness to all men. None are condemned to hell because of a lack in the goodness of God but because the wickedness of men moves them to reject God’s obvious goodness. How is God good to all men, even those who never hear the gospel?

God is good in giving and sustaining life. None come into this world only because of biological processes. God’s goodness is the ultimate source of life men and His goodness sustains their life. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) More than the granting of life to men God’s goodness is daily evident by His delaying judgment on individuals and the whole world. “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” (Lamentations 3:22)

God is good in giving the blessings of daily provision to all men. In His goodness God sends rain and sun on the just and the unjust alike. “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.”(Matthew 5:34) God could send only fair weather on the just and send torment only to the unsaved. He could mark out the unsaved to be victims of horrible plagues like He did the Egytpians. In His gracious goodness God does not do these things. He gives to men what is necessary for life and what is good for happiness. “He causeth the grass to grow fro the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine , and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.” In their sin men turn the good gifts of God into replacements for God yet God is still good and continues to He makes testimony of Him clear through nature.

God is good in giving a daily declaration of His greatness. Every day every one sees and hears testimony of God. Through the rising of the sun, the passing of the seasons, the growing of flowers, the running of streams and the granting of food God declares Himself to be God. All creation is a reminder that men are contigent creatures. Every person is dependent on something outside himself to sustain his existence. Every person is dependent on things beyond his control for his continued life. God gives those things that man needs to live. The continued operation of the universe in its accustomed fashion is testimony to the majesty of God. In His goodness He has given mankind this constant reminder of Him.

In His goodness to the world God has sent out His servants to preach the gospel. God could have chosen to limit the gospel message to only one family of people. He could have locked the gospel behind closed doors restricted only to the select few. He did none of these things. Since the very beginning God has made salvation known to the whole world. Today God is making the gospel known to the world through Christians going taking the gospel across the globe. Even this blog and it’s accompanying radio broadcast is an evidence of the goodness of God. Christians are using a myriad of means to proclaim the gospel in every corner of world. This ever expanding missionary effort is the direct result of the goodness of God. God has sent out His children as ambassadors to tell every person on earth of the saving grace of God. He knows most will reject, some will scorn and some will assault the messengers of salvation, but God continues to show His goodness to the world by sending His children out as “sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16).

The greatest evidence of the goodness of God is His promise to all men. God promises any who seek Him will find Him. God does not hide Himself from those who wish to know the truth. Those who are thirsty are invited to come and to those who desire the water of life it will be freely given.

Read Psalm 104 for further reflection on this theme.

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Why do bad things happen?

The world is filled with scenes of tragedy. The world’s woes show in gory detail that all is not right with the world. The calamities that affect every person and place on this globe have prompted some to wonder about God. If there is a God who is all powerful and rules everything, why does He allow terrible things to happen? If God is good, why does He let so many bad things take place? These questions are sometimes phrased in such a way as to imply that disaster proves God does not really exist.

The Bible provides a coherent explanation for the existence and purpose of misfortune and misery in this world. The history of bad things begins at the very beginning. God created everything and everything He created was perfect. Everything worked as it was intended. Death, tragedy, sorrow and despair were nonexistent until God’s creatures began to rebel against Him. The rebellion began with an angel named Lucifer, who was joined by countless other angels in opposition to God. Lucifer then persuaded Eve to disobey God and eat the fruit He had forbidden them. Adam joined Eve in disobedience and the whole human race was plunged into sin and death.

Following Adam and Eve’s sin, God spoke to them and declared judgment against them for their rebellion. In Genesis 3 God tells Adam, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake.” The sin of man brought down God’s judgment which encompassed all creation. Everything in creation is now cursed because God’s creation rejected Him. The apostle Paul declares in Romans 8, “We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.” All of creation groans in intense agony because of sin. Bad things happen because man rebelled against God. God does not delight in the suffering anyone, but He will always be just. Sin will always be punished. Part of that punishment is the present suffering that fills the earth.

To decry the goodness of God because we don’t like the consequences of our sin against Him is foolish. Such outcry is a bit like a guy in prison complaining that the other inmates are mean to him, the guards don’t like him, his bed isn’t comfortable and he doesn’t get to decide in which cell he sleeps. Judgment is not pleasant and has consequences far greater than the mere pronouncement. A sentence of imprisonment always involves many inevitable unpleasantnesses. The sentence of death that came upon the world involves many unpleasant deaths and much suffering along the way. This is not to make light of the severity of suffering. Compassion moves us to aid and comfort those enduring greater agony because of sin. God in His mercy has done much to mitigate the severity of man’s suffering in this life.

God in His wisdom has not removed all the painful, present consequences of sin. The tragedies of this life serve a good purpose. The sorrows of life cause us to turn our eyes upward. What good would it do us to go through life free of pain, free of sorrow, live to a full age and then die peacefully in our sleep? The warnings of the judgment of sin would seem empty and even kind of silly. The suffering of this world remind us that we live in a place broken by sin. The sufferings of this life remind us that the consequences of sin are terrible. These tragedies remind us of sin’s horror and provide opportunity for repentance. The mercy of God gives men a temporary taste of sin’s judgment that they might be motivated to turn from sin to Him for salvation.