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  • Writer's pictureJason Garcia


“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone" (Mk. 10:18).

Many unscriptural things have been done in the name of "It's a good work!"

For some that's enough of a commendation to sponsor, finance, and extol whatever WE deem "good." If some poor, discerning brother should have the gall to question such a highly recommended project he is "against everything"––especially "good works." That's usually how the story plays out anyway.

But what is a "good" thing? Have we checked the use of this word in God's Word, or even a "good" dictionary? By what standard (or whose) have we decided a thing is "good." Does it unsettle you that the SON OF GOD cautioned the rich man not to throw that word around? Jesus was not denying that He was good, rather He knew that the rich young man (like so many of us) failed to appreciate the gravity of the word. God is good, says Jesus––not only this, but "God alone." To wit, God alone defines what is good because He is its Author. He alone is essentially, absolutely good.

"Good soil" (Lk. 8:8) like a "good tree" (Matt. 7:17) refers to the character of the thing. "It is not good that man should live alone" refers not to immorality, but to "fitness" and "good measure" means "in excess" or "not deficient" (Gen. 2:18; Lk. 6:38).

Everything created by God is "good" (1 Tim. 4:4), but this does not remove the necessity of keeping all things in place (e.g. alcohol is a good antiseptic, but not a good beverage).

Then there is THE "good" (usually accompanied by the article in Greek) and this refers to that which is pleasing to God, and therefore beneficial.

We are to prove the good, acceptable, perfect will of God (Rom.12:2), do the good (Rom.13:3), cleave to the good (Rom.12:9), and overcome evil with the good (Rom.12:21).

So a thing can only be "good" for me as a Christian IF AND ONLY IF it has God's approval. It is a "good work" for the local church if the thing under consideration has divine authority. Christians are "bought with a price"––we are servants of God (1 Cor. 6:19). The church has Christ as its Head, and must be subject to Him (Col. 1:18). What I'm saying is...the church doesn't get to legislate what good works it should be engaged in, because the good works have already been decided upon. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God PREPARED IN ADVANCE for us to do (Eph 2:10, emp. mine). All we or anyone have the authority to do is THE GOOD that God has shown us to do.

We may think a thing is "good," but if we can't find book, chapter, and verse for it, then we are presumptuously speaking where God is silent. And our "good work" (no matter how so so good and loving in our eyes) is unauthorized, empty, and evil. We must learn what this means: "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams" (1 Sam. 15:22).

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