Why Do You Call Me Good?

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One of the most beautiful things about the word of God is that the gospel is on every page.  Sometimes this happens in the most surprising ways. I would like to share a discovery I made in Genesis 1 the other day.

We all know, from John 1, Colossians 1 and Hebrews 1, that Jesus is the creator spoken of in Genesis 1. We are also told in Psalm 19 that creation declares the glory of God, and some even believe the gospel is to be found in the stars, but that’s not what I’m referring to.

The other day, an LDS friend of mine from our time living in Manti, Utah, posted on facebook. It was a picture that said, “Your beliefs don’t make you a better person. Your behavior does.” I commented and asked him how he would interpret Jesus teaching that a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit and a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. He then messaged me and asked me to explain.

As I was thinking about how I would explain this to him, I started thinking about the verses in scripture that refer to things that are good. I thought about Paul’s statement that there is none who does good. I also thought about Jesus’ question to the rich young ruler:

And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. (Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19)

For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. (Psalm 86:5)

These verses speak clearly enough. Jesus (God) is the only being who can be called “good” in the sense of speaking not only of His identity, but His very essence as well as His actions. We, on the other hand, all fall short of the glory of God.

It was then that I remembered another verse, in fact, the first verse or series of verses, that refer to something as good. What was that:

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

All of the sudden it hit me like a ton of bricks. The dots were connected and I realized that the only way that anything is declared good in the Bible is by God’s word. We are declared good by the word of God (Bible) and through the word of God (Jesus).

I desired to check my work, so I went, as I often do, to blueletterbible.org, and typed in “call* good.” What came up are the verses I’ve already mentioned, along with one more:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

That’s the gospel right there. The woe is given to two different declarations. The first is to call evil good. This speaks of those who declare “goodness” to something which has not been declared good by God. This is the response of religion to the gospel. This is exactly what the post made by my friend was trying to communicate.

The second group are those who call good evil. This group of people describes the response of the atheist who proclaims themselves, as the creation, judge over the creator. They waive their finger at God and ask Him to prove that He exists or that He’s worthy of their worship.

The proper response is to call evil evil and good good. This is to put human beings, prior to being declared righteous by God, evil, and to ascribe to God His rightful place as the only one who is good.