(September 16, 1925 – August 30, 2019)
‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Rev. 14:13
My Personal Recollection of Dr. David Gooding
I first had the privilege of hearing brother David Gooding’s ministry at the 1990 CMML Men’s Bible Study at Greenwood Hills Bible Conference in Pennsylvania. His reputation as an accomplished professor of classics and expert on the Septuagint filled me with preconceived notions of his personality and style. Rather than dry and pedantic, I found him to be personally engaging and ever-willing to answer questions before and after the sessions. He tirelessly spent time with the brothers, paying special attention to the younger men in attendance (I was seventeen at the time.)
His thorough grasp of the Bible was not only evidenced in the teaching sessions, but was also displayed at meal times and in private discussions. Besides having the ability to discuss any portion of the Scriptures in detail, Dr. Gooding was able to break down the literary structure of the various books of the Bible. For example, I once saw him outline the book of Numbers on napkins in the dining hall. Many believers remember him intoning in his elegant British accent: “There is pattern, structure, and thought flow – but the greatest of these is thought flow!” It is no exaggeration to say that his detailed expositions of God’s Word revolutionized my personal Bible study and influenced scores of others throughout North America and the rest of the world.
Brother Gooding had a tremendous love for his brothers and sisters in Christ, and was especially interested in missions around the world. During the authoritarian Franco regime, he bravely visited believers in Spain, and is especially remembered for his meetings at La Granja Bible camp. Towards the end of the cold war, his good friend John Lennox and he used their academic credentials to share the gospel among many of the intelligentsia in the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s they wrote extensively for – and sometimes travelled to – countries that had long been deprived of sound Bible teaching. Separately, he also made many visits to missionaries around the world and kept up friendships with believers from every corner of the globe.
Over the years, my family was privileged to visit brother Gooding multiple times. He was unfailingly hospitable and was an excellent conversationalist (many international students also found sanctuary in his home). He was genuinely interested in others and particularly loved talking about the gospel and evangelism. He also possessed a great sense of humor which was shown by a particularly embarrassing moment for me: I was doing my “Gooding” impersonation with a friend at a large conference, never realizing that he was standing behind me! He said nothing at the time, but when I encountered him later at the same gathering, I sputtered: “Brother Gooding, I’m Keith Keyser; I met you sometime ago at Greenwood Hills . . .” He replied with a bemused expression and tone: “Yes, I remember YOU very well!”
I am grateful for the way that the Lord used brother Gooding in my life and in the lives of many others. Happily, much of his ministry is preserved in audio and video format (see the outstanding website: www.myrtlefieldhouse.com), as well as books on Luke, Acts, John, Hebrews, Biblical ethics, The New Testament’s usage of the Old Testament, and various apologetic books coauthored with brother John Lennox (they may be ordered from Gospel Folio Press or directly from Myrtlefield House).
A fitting way to honor brother Gooding’s memory would be to love the Lord more fervently with our minds, applying our mental energies to carefully studying the Scriptures and living them out. As he said in an impromptu talk to some friends:
“The Bible likens this life to school, for a believer in the Lord Jesus. We are being trained, we are being educated, we are being prepared for the real life that lies ahead. The Bible says that creation herself, the great and glorious creation that is around us, has been made subject to vanity. To this very present, she groans in travail, waiting for the revelation of the grown-up sons of God. Even now, with its curse, all its blight, suffering, and illness, creation around us is a fascinating thing; and the universe still more fascinating. I am looking forward to getting out of school, to entering into real life, and to reigning with the Savior over the vast universe of God; and to developing with God all those wonderful schemes that God has in His mind.”