A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 9.24.2005

    Ultimate Discussions 6

    The Ultimate Perfection: God's Holiness

    See Ultimate Discussions 1 for introductory material




    If you have ever studied a foreign language, you know that it can be tough work. When I was in high school, I studied German for a semester and then Spanish for two years. Spanish seemed a lot easier to learn than German. German, for me, was a little too “foreign.” When I got to college, I started studying Greek. Now that was a challenge. But it began to open up for me, and I enjoyed delving into it. Finally, as an upperclassman, I took a semester of Hebrew. Talk about a foreign language! The letters were completely different--and the writing went from right to left instead of the good ol’ western method of left to right. I have to admit to you that I still know nothing about Hebrew. At best I think I remember most of its alphabet.

    When we consider the holiness of God, we are approaching the foreign, the hard-to-comprehend, and the truly alien.

    What does the world holy actually mean? In his book The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul helps us by writing that the “primary meaning of holy is separate. It comes from an ancient word that means ‘to cut’ or ‘to separate.’ To translate this basic meaning into contemporary language would be to use the phrase ‘a cut apart.’ Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase ‘a cut above something.’”1
    It means that God transcends everything. He is above all.

    Henry Thiessen says that holiness “denotes the perfection of God in all that he is.”2

    Putting these two thoughts together, we can see that God is unique and totally separate from us in His perfection. Everything about God is completely other. He is a category all by Himself. God told the prophet Isaiah, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place.”3

    So God’s very name is holy. Holiness is God’s primary attribute. I like to say that holiness is the dye that colors everything God is: His justice is perfect justice. His love is perfect love. His purity is perfect purity.

    Isaiah saw a glimpse of God in a special vision. He saw the blinding white purity of God’s character. He also saw angels flying above the throne of God crying out “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Isaiah got a close-up view of God’s holy purity. He could only respond by saying, “Woe is me!” when he saw his sinfulness in contrast to God’s holiness. If we can see a glimpse of God’s holiness, we too will respond in a holy fear. Our knees will tremble a bit, and we’ll become very sober-minded because holiness elevates our thinking and subdues our flippant attitudes. A.W. Tozer put it in poetic terms: “Before the uncreated fire of God’s holiness, angels veil their faces.”4

    R.C. Sproul continues: “I am convinced that [holiness] is one of the most important ideas that a Christian can ever grapple with. It is basic to our whole understanding of God and Christianity.”5

    Understanding holiness means that we see the chasm between God and man. Another Old Testament prophet said to God, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.”6 Man’s pride in his own goodness collapses at the sight of God’s holiness. How can a sinful man bridge the chasm to get to God? We’ll talk about that. But in our next discussion, we must study the chasm just a little bit more.


    --------------------------------------------
    1 R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, (Minneapolis, Grason Publishers, 1985), 54.
    2 Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Eerdman’s, 1949), 84.
    3 Isaiah 57:15
    4 A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (San Francisco, Harper and Rowe Publishers, 1961), 177.
    5 Sproul, 24.
    6 Habakkuk 1:13

    3 Comments:

    At 6:21 PM, Blogger Joe said...

    Good post!

    If we understood the holiness of God we might not be so trite in our worship and our behavior toward Him.

     
    At 3:54 PM, Blogger Jeremy Weaver said...

    Sproul's video series on the 'Holiness of God' changed my worldview. It's good to be knocked back into a view of God, especially when we live in a world that ignores Him.

     
    At 4:46 PM, Blogger J. Wendell said...

    John,
    The Holiness of God is His primary attribute, even though it is not the most popular among people. I really like the graphics you have been using at the tops of these posts.

     

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