Quarterly Reprint 10

The Good Things of Life

In the world around us we commonly hear people talking about ‘living the good life,’ or desiring to possess ‘the good things of life.’ What is usually meant by this, of course, is the issue of living a life-style that lacks very few material possessions and pleasures, and is also considered successful in the eyes of others. The ‘good life’ and ‘the good things of life,’ in the eyes of the world at large, consists in the things that a person possesses; the pleasures he is able to pursue; and the status of success and achievement he is able to attain unto in comparison to others. To be ‘living the good life,’ as far as our society is concerned, requires one to have notable accomplishments in these materialistic areas. If one possesses such accomplishments, he has arrived. In some measure ‘the good things of life’ are his to enjoy. In short, what the world values — “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” — these are the things that constitute ‘the good things of life,’ and the pursuit and possession of them constitutes ‘living the good life.’

However, to us as Christians we should understand that what the world values and esteems, and says is “good,” God does not necessarily value and esteem. And, conversely, what God calls “good” is often times not thought of as such by the world. Indeed, in accordance with this, there is a great need for us to learn God’s standard of values and “renew our minds” with the knowledge of what God values and esteems, and what He says is “good,” so that in the details of our lives we can bring our walk and its pursuits into conformity with God’s will. To this end, the apostle Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:1-2, saying,…

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

AND BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD: BUT BE YE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, THAT YE MAY PROVE WHAT IS THAT GOOD, AND ACCEPTABLE, AND PERFECT, WILL OF GOD.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Based upon the wonderful knowledge of God’s tremendous mercies to us, we ought to be motivated to want to live a life-style that honors and pleases the Lord. We ought to be motivated by God’s grace unto us, and out of gratitude, thanksgiving, and appreciation, want to live unto Him Who died for us and rose again. However, the knowledge of what is “holy, and acceptable unto God” is not something that we are intuitively aware of, nor does the world possess it or display it. Instead, what we know by nature, and what the world pursues after and calls “good,” is not “the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Therefore, Paul tells us that we need the “renewing of (our) mind.” We need to renew our minds with the knowledge of God’s standard of values so that we can be transformed from conformity to this world’s standards, and can discern and bring our lives into line with the “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Again, what the world says are ‘the GOOD things of life,’ and what God says constitutes His “GOOD, and acceptable, and perfect” will, are for the most part two different things. But the true ‘good things of life’ are the things which God designates as “good.”

In connection with all of this, in our epistles there are some special things that God has particularly described to us as being “good,” which we need to take note of and make sure that we too recognize as being “good.” Unfortunately, though, they are things that often times are not looked upon as such by Christians. In fact, most of the time instead of being thought of as good, they are almost frowned upon and avoided.

“THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH” (I Tim. 6:12)

It almost seems like a contradiction, to many, that the concept of ‘fighting’ would be linked with us as Christians, and moreover that it would ever be called “good.” But such is just the case. Hence, it is necessary for us to understand and appreciate that the kind of ‘fighting’ which the apostle Paul is referring to in this expression IS “good” in God’s sight, and it is “good” for us to engage in it.

It should go without saying that the “fight of faith” is not the issue of a physical fight. Rather, it is the issue of standing for the body of truth, (the faith), which God has committed to us today for this dispensation of grace. It is the issue of standing for it and contending for it in the face of corruption, denials, perversions, distortions, adulterations, dereliction, and any other thing that would cause its sound communication to suffer. A major part of the Satanic policy of evil in this dispensation of grace is that of attacking God’s message about it. In so doing, Satan’s desire is to make it so that, through doctrinal error, Christians don’t really know what is going on in God’s plan and purpose. He desires to make it so that they don’t “rightly divide the word of truth,” and, thereby, make it so that a Christian’s thinking and walk is characterized by contrariness to what God is really doing today. A war is being waged by Satan and his principalities and powers against God’s truth for today, and also against the saints who understand it and communicate it. It is this battle that Paul is referring to when he tells Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith.” It is this battle that Paul wants Timothy to be engaged in, and to “fight” in. And regarding this battle, Paul wants Timothy to realize that God says it is “GOOD” to fight it. The “fight of faith” in God’s eyes is “the GOOD fight of faith.”

The reality of this is underscored in other places with that same designation of “good”-ness. Notice it, for example, in the following.

“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest WAR A GOOD WARFARE;

holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (I Tim. 1:18-20)

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a GOOD SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST. (II Tim. 2:3)

“I have FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” (II Tim. 4:7)

The tendency today, for the most part, is to frown upon the taking of a firm doctrinal stand, and anything which resembles contending for the truth. Doctrinal indecisiveness, confusion, and uncertainty abounds to the point that being ‘at sea’ is considered normal, and, therefore, contending for anything is viewed as almost impossible. On top of this, and in accordance with Satan’s policy of evil, the platform is commonly raised upon which many stand and from which they declare, ‘Doctrine divides, but love unifies.’ And with this, doctrinal exactness and purity are considered unimportant, even pests; and contending for sound doctrine is considered an ‘un-loving and un-Christian’ thing to do.

Because of this, it is easy for saints who know the importance of sound doctrine, and who know the aim of the Satanic policy of evil, to be made to feel guilty or ashamed for engaging in the “fight of faith.” In the face of such influence, it is easy to replace what God says is “good” in His sight, with what the majority says is “good.” But thanks be to God that regardless of what the many may say, His word on the matter is still plain and clear. God says the “fight of faith” is “the GOOD fight of faith.” It’s the “GOOD warfare.”

It may not be popular. It may not be looked upon as “good” by many, but God values esteems it, and so should we. And knowing God says it is “good,” we need not be ashamed. Instead, we should have confidence that it is well-pleasing in His sight.

“A GOOD MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST” (I Tim. 4:6)

In like manner, what God says constitutes a “GOOD minister of Jesus Christ” in His sight often times is not what the world thinks makes a ‘good minister.’ And unfortunately, all too often God’s own people don’t want in their minister what God says makes a “GOOD minister.”

Success in the ministry today, for the most part, is gauged on the basis of personal appeal and the outward appearance. A ‘good minister’ is generally thought of as one whose ministry is outwardly impressive and influential. He himself is appealing and has qualities about him that are attractive and entertaining. The ministry has a sizable following and contributes to the social fabric of people’s lives and that of their community. If the minister and the ministry are impressive in these areas, it is generally concluded that such is a ‘good minister’ and ministry. [Note: In saying this, it is by no means being asserted that a “good minister of Jesus Christ” in the eyes of God cannot have a large ministry and be personable, etc. But these things in and of themselves do not constitute a “good minister of Jesus Christ.” Rather, what God says makes a “GOOD minister” in His sight involves something entirely distinct from personal appeal and social impact.]

According to I Timothy 4:6 in particular, but along with the entire teaching of the epistle of I Timothy, what God says constitutes a “GOOD minister of Jesus Christ” in His sight is the issue of the faithful communication of sound doctrine to the godly edifying of the saints.

“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, THOU SHALT BE A GOOD MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST, NOURISHED UP IN THE WORDS OF FAITH AND OF GOOD DOCTRINE, WHEREUNTO THOU HAST ATTAINED.” (I Timothy 4:6)

A “GOOD minister of Jesus Christ” is one who does like Paul exhorts Timothy to do here and throughout this epistle. He provides for the nourishing up of the saints “in the words of faith and of GOOD doctrine.” He oversees a local church, which is “the pillar and ground of the truth,” and under his leadership it functions as such. He labors in “the word and doctrine” giving himself “wholly to them” that he may minister to the saints “godly edifying,” and deliver them from being victimized by the Satanic policy of evil. He fights “the GOOD fight of faith” and keeps that which was committed to his trust, regardless of trends, lack of recognition, opposition, unpopularity, or defamation.

Such things as these, along with others set forth especially in I and II Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, are what make a “GOOD minister of Jesus Christ” in God’s eyes. And though the designation “good” may not often be applied by men today to such ministers and ministries, it is so applied by God, and will be manifested as such at the judgment seat of Christ.

Along with the “GOOD fight of faith” and the “GOOD minister of Jesus Christ” there are a number of other things God designates as “GOOD” in His sight, which often times fail to be looked upon as such. In view of the limitations of this article they cannot be dealt with in detail, yet take note of some of them and give thoughtful consideration to them on your own.

“Holding faith, and a GOOD CONSCIENCE; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:” (I Timothy 1:19)

“Moreover he must have A GOOD REPORT of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (I Timothy 3:7)

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, AND HAST PROFESSED A GOOD PROFESSION before many witnesses.

I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate WITNESSED A GOOD CONFESSION; (I Timothy 6:12-13)

“Laying up in store for themselves A GOOD FOUNDATION against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (I Timothy 6:19)

“That GOOD THING which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” (II Timothy 1:14)

These, and others like them are the “GOOD THINGS OF LIFE.” If you are following after these “GOOD” things, and if you possess them, then you truly are ‘living the good life.’ — K.R. Blades