By Rev. O.L. Johnson
If you are a saved person, you can consider yourself to be among a very select group. In his word, God says that you are chosen, royal, holy and peculiar.
Don’t feel bad about being “peculiar”; it’s not a bad thing, as used in God’s word. It literally means that, by virtue of Jesus’ work on the cross, all of us have been acquired, purchased and preserved as God’s people.
We stay in that lofty position with God as long as we behave ourselves from day to day. Once we fail, things change, but to what extent? We know that God hates sin, and he’s not too fond of us when we transgress against him. He requires confession and repentance from us before he will forgive our sins, but what is our status between the sin and forgiveness?
There’s an old saying that “God is good”; we get no argument there; but, when we add the phrase “all the time,” as we are prone to do, some of us are hard-pressed to accept that as biblical truth. To do so is to say that God is good to us after we sin and before forgiveness. If he is, we should see it in the Bible.
I’m sure we all are familiar with the 70-year captivity of the Israelites, God’s people of the Old Testament. They were exiled into Babylon because of their transgressions against God. In spite of their sin, God continued to be good to them. He said that he would in Psalm 73:1, where he said that “truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.”
Notice the verb tenses in this verse, present and not past; meaning that he makes no exception for those in captivity. He does not withhold his goodness because of their backsliding. God fully intended that the Israelites serve the entire 70-year punishment, but at the right time he effected their release through Cyrus, king of Persia.
The prophet Isaiah tells us that all along it was God’s plan to bless Israel in two arenas: first, to “give them their recompense”; and, secondly, to “make an everlasting covenant with them.” (Isaiah 61:8). This covenant carries the meaning that they were his people and that he was their God forever, in spite of their transgressions.
Those two blessings are not exclusively intended for the Israelites of Isaiah’s time. They also apply to God’s people of today and throughout all of time. As the scriptures tell us, God is no respecter of persons. What he did for them, he’ll do for us.
When we misbehave and repent, he restores us into his good graces, brings us back into the fold, and we are still his people. He continues to delight in us, just as he did the Israelites of Isaiah’s time. Yes, God is good, all the time!
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.