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Questions and Answers

The Psalms describe God as good (Ps. 86:5). I often think of "good" as somewhat average (the meal was good, but not excellent). What does "good" mean when used to describe God?

To say that God is good means that He is kind, gracious, benevolent. By nature, God is cordial, courteous, and ready to bless. Not only is He the most powerful, most holy, and only wise, God is the best being in the universe! God is infinite, unique, and unrivaled in His goodness. The statement that God is good is one of the most glorious and foundational assertions about God’s character in Scripture (Ps. 100:5; 118:1, 29; 119:68). Therefore, it is wise to begin our thinking about God with the biblical idea that God is essentially good.

What does the word arguing mean in Philippians 2:14?

In contrast with grumbling, arguing (sometimes translated as “disputing”) is open and overt verbal contention, arguments, and sharp exchanges. Disputes are rooted in pride and a divisive spirit. They lack Christian civility and respect. Arguing involves verbal assault and verbal hitting below the belt. Apparently, believers in Philippi were engaged in fighting with one another on a regular basis and they were hurting the life and public testimony of the church. Some of these men and women, who were in eternal relationship with God through faith in Christ, were argumentative and contentious. There is no place for this behavior among the people of God. The force of the imperative is literally to stop an action already in progress. God commands His people to stop the complaining and the disputing. In a world that no longer knows how to engage in civil and respectful discourse, the church should be an example of how to use God’s gift of language in a redemptive way.

I heard it mentioned in a sermon that Christians should do all things without complaining. Is this actually a command from God Himself or an expression of legalism?

You heard correctly. Philippians 2:14 gives us a bold imperative: Do all things without grumbling or arguing. In some of our English Bible versions, the word grumbling is translated as “complaining.” Grumbling is rooted in an attitude of resentment toward God about life circumstances. Even though the resentment is Godward, we often express our displeasure with negative comments about other people, most often behind their backs. Ironically, this grumbling drips from the redeemed lips of God’s people, even in the hallways and parking lots of churches. Some Christians may underestimate the damage that complaining does, but it hinders the cause of Christ and hurts people in the process.

What does the Bible mean when it says faith is "assurance about what we do not see" (Heb. 11:1)?

This part of our “faith definition” implies that there are some realities we are not able to see with our physical sight. Our visible world, the world we can touch, see, and smell, is not the whole of our reality. But we know that there is an unseen and invisible reality. Even though we are incapable of perceiving this reality with our physical eyes, it is real, it has an existence. Faith is the means by which we are able to see and experience that invisible order. Just like our physical sight gives us convictions about the reality of the physical world, so faith gives us conviction about the reality of the unseen world. It is stunning to consider that faith sees God! Faith contemplates the eternal order. Since God Himself is the ultimate and supreme unseen reality, faith enables us to see God (Heb. 11:27). Faith reminds us that our temporal circumstances are not the whole of our experience.

How is faith different than hope?

The opening words of Hebrews 11 give us a helpful definition of faith: “Faith is confidence in what we hope for” (Heb. 11:1). Faith gives us inner assurance and confidence, which are different than mere human hopefulness. Through faith things that are in the future, things that God promised to us, become real and substantial for us in the present. “What we hope for” refers to the wonderful and glorious realities that God has promised to us. They are in the future; they are coming. We are anticipating them. Through faith these things become real and substantial for us in the present, giving us inner assurance and confidence about their reality. Because we have faith, we are able to live our lives and make daily decisions in light of God’s promises to us.

BY Dr. Winfred O. Neely

Dr. Winfred Neely is currently working towards his third degree in at the University of Bristol, England. An ordained minister and full-time professor of pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute, Winfred has served churches across the City of Chicago, the near west subburbs, and Senegal, West Africa. He and his wife Stephne have been married for forty years and have four adult children and nine grandchildren. 

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