Sunday, May 18, 2014

G10. To say that God is holy is to say that God is God.

Second to last post in the section on God. See the overall bullet points.
G10. To say that God is holy is to say that God is God.

It is quite common to think of holiness in terms of ultimate purity or moral perfection. To be sure, these are secondary aspects of God's holiness, and they become especially prominent in the New Testament. As 1 Peter 1:14-16 says, "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'"

However, holiness in its most basic sense has to do with something relating to God. To say that God is holy is to say that God is God. This is not a simple truism. The realm of God should strike fear in the hearts of mere mortals who have the slightest sense of who God is.

If I were in the path of an elephant, I would take care knowing how heavy and massive the animal is, even if it means me no harm. I respect its power and know what it can do to me. When I am around significant amounts of electricity or something that could easily catch on fire, I take special care.

In the same way, to say God is holy is to say that we stand before the sovereign Creator of the universe who could eliminate our existence and that of the whole world in less than a moment, without a blink. We see pictures of this aspect of God's holiness when Uzzah reaches out to steady the Ark of the Covenant and dies instantly (2 Sam. 6:6-7). The holiness of God meant that an animal that wandered onto Mt. Sinai while God was there needed to be put to death (Exod. 19:12-13).

Thankfully God does not accidentally step on us, nor does he wish to. He loves us and wants good things for us, including our growth and maturity. The one who by God's grace returns that love has nothing to fear.

Still, we can understand the idea of the "fear of the LORD" in the Scriptures (e.g., Prov. 9:10). We understand why Isaiah immediately senses his precarious situation in Isaiah 6:1-7 when he catches a glimpse of God's throne room in heaven. We understand why Moses' face would glow after he spent time one on one with God (e.g., Exod. 34:29). These pictures give us the smallest sense of the holiness of God, his God-ness.

When we combine the awesomeness of God with his "hatred" of evil, it is no surprise that the need for living the way God wants us to live quickly comes into view. The Old Testament presents us with very anthropomorphic images of God's anger toward sin and an often mechanical sense of what sin is. We have to filter these images through the fulfilled interpretation of the Law by Jesus (e.g., Matthew 5:17-48).

So what "angers" God more than anything else is not so much when we break "the rules" but when we do harm to others or when the structures of a culture or society do systemic harm to others. God is also grieved when we harm ourselves or when we follow a path that makes us fall short of what we could be. The holiness of God is not oriented around moral perfection in action, since God's focus is primarily on our motives and character. But the holiness of God calls out for justice in the face of wrongdoing and the elimination of evil.

Evil is not a thing, nor is God's goodness a thing inside him. These are descriptions of intentions that lead to actions. In God, these intentions are always good. In humanity, these intentions are often evil. When evil intentions lead to suffering, God's justice calls for redemption and the end of wrongdoing. Such a justice is fearsome in the light of God's holiness.

Since God's holiness is God's Godness, it embraces all those aspects of God that distinguish him from the mortal. He is sovereign. He is all powerful. Before his eyes we are naked and laid bare (Heb. 4:13). He is everywhere present. What a fearful thing to know that God will destroy to protect and that God will abandon that which will never be redeemed!

To say that God is holy is to say that God is God.

Next week: G11. The one God has existed from all eternity as three persons.


Pastor Bob said...


Steve Finnell said...


The prevailing thought of many is that since the Bible was not canonized until sometime between 300 and 400 A.D. that the church of Christ did not have New Covenant Scriptures as their guide for faith and practice. That is simply factually incorrect.

The Lord's church of the first 400 years did not rely on the man-made traditions of men for New Testament guidance.

Jesus gave the terms for pardon 33 A.D. after His death and resurrecting. (Mark 16:16) All the words of Jesus were Scripture.Jesus did not have to wait for canonization of the New Testament in order for His word to be authorized.

The terms for pardon were repeated by the apostle Peter 33 A.D. on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:22-42) The teachings of the apostles were Scripture. The words of the apostles were Scripture before they were canonized.

The apostle Peter said the apostle Paul's words were Scripture. (2 Peter 3:15-16...just as also our beloved brother Paul , according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand,which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures...

The apostle Paul's letters and words were Scriptures when he wrote and spoke them. Paul did not have to wait for canonization to authorize his doctrine.

John 14:25-26 'These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to you remembrance all that I said to you.

The words and writings of the apostles were Scripture and they did not have to wait for canonization to be deemed authoritative. The apostle did not use man-made creed books of the church or man-made oral traditions to teach the gospel of the New Covenant.

Did the early church have written New testament Scriptures? Yes, and they were shared among the different congregations. (Colossians 4:16 When the letter is read among you, have it read in the church of the Laodiceans and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodica.) Paul's letters were Scripture and they were read in different churches.

They were New Testament Scriptures long before they were canonized.


Matthew A.D. 70
Mark A.D. 55
Luke between A.D. 59 and 63
John A.D. 85
Acts A.D. 63
Romans A.D. 57
1 Corinthians A.D. 55
2 Corinthians A.D. 55
Galatians A.D. 50
Ephesians A.D. 60
Philippians A.D. 61
Colossians A. D. 60
1 Thessalonians A.D. 51
2 Thessalonians A.D. 51 or 52
1 Timothy A.D. 64
2 Timothy A.D. 66
Titus A.D. 64
Philemon A.D. 64
Hebrews A.D. 70
James A.D. 50
1 Peter A.D. 64
2 Peter A.D. 66
1 John A.D. 90
2 John A.d. 90
3 John A.D. 90
Jude A.D. 65
Revelation A.D. 95

All 27 books of the New Testament were Scripture when they were written. They did not have wait until they were canonized before they became God's word to mankind.

Jesus told the eleven disciples make disciples and teach them all that He commanded. (Matthew 28:16-19) That was A.D. 33, They were teaching New Covenant Scripture from A.D. 33 forward. The apostles did not wait to preach the gospel until canonization occurred 300 to 400 years later.