Worldly Saints

Seizing Life for the Glory of God



Ways to Respond to God’s Holiness

Image result for god's holinessYou might be interested to know that the holiness of God is referred to more often than any other attribute. Thomas Watson once said, “Holiness is the most sparkling jewel of his crown; it is the name by which God is known.

When you see angels worshipping in heaven, they are not crying, “Mighty, mighty, mighty” or “Omniscient, omniscient, omniscient” or “Loving, loving, loving.” They are saying, “Holy, holy, holy.

What does holiness mean? The word “holiness” comes from the Hebrew word qadas meaning “to separate” or “to cut” (the Greek equivalent of hagios). The idea is that God is separated or cut off from sin and evil; He is a cut above all unrighteousness and a cut above everything He created. Charles Hodge gives this definition in his Systematic Theology:

“Holiness, on the one hand, implies entire freedom from moral evil and, on the other, absolute moral perfection. Freedom from purity is the primary idea of the word. To sanctify is to cleanse; to be holy is to be clean. Infinite purity, even more than infinite knowledge or infinite power, is the object of reverence.” (Systematic Theology, pgs. 150-151)

It means simply that God is without sin and is separated from all evil. He doesn’t see the holy standard and then meet it; He is the standard. God doesn’t need to change, because he is already perfectly holy. He does not do any wrongdoing. God’s holiness means that He is separated from sin and devoted to being the standard of all holiness for all.

This was what Moses was confronted with at the burning bush. When he approached this theophany, the Lord warned him

Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exod 3:5).

He told Moses, “You are coming to a place void of sin and you are a sinner. Be warned!”

Isaiah had a similar confrontation when he had a vision of God in Isaiah 6. He had a vision of God sitting on his throne surrounded by cherubim, angels and other sentient beings. He saw them saying “Holy, holy, holy” and telling him the entire earth was filled with His glory (Isa 6:3). The foundation shook, smoke filled the room and Isaiah proclaimed,

Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isa 6:4).

He was utterly humbled with being in the presence of the holy standard as an unholy man. Men like Moses and Isaiah demonstrate how we are to react to God’s holiness.

When confronted with God’s holiness, some people grow in bitterness; others resent His holiness; some just get enraged; some just trivialize God’s attributes all together. But, the godly reaction to God’s holiness should be thanksgiving and trembling.

J.I. Packer, On the Truthfulness of God

Image result for knowing god packer“The words of human beings are unstable things. But not so the words of God. They stand forever, as abidingly valid expressions of his mid and thought. No circumstances prompt him to recall them; no changes in his own thinking require him to amend them. Isaiah writes, ‘All flesh is grass…The grass withers…But the word of our God will stand forever’ (Isa 40:6-8 RSV). Similarly, the psalmist says, ‘Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens…All your commands are true…You established them to last forever’ (Ps 119:89, 151-152).

“The word translated true in the last verse carries with it the idea of stability. When we read our Bibles, therefore, we need to remember that God still stands behind all the promises, and demands, and statements of purpose, and words of warning, that are there addressed to New Testament believers. These are not relics of a bygone age, but an eternally valid revelation of the mind of God toward his people in all generations, so long as this world lasts. As our Lord Himself has told us, ‘The Scriptures cannot be broken’ (John 10:35). Nothing can annul God’s eternal truth.” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God)

George Ladd, Describing the Kingdom of God

Image result for george ladd“The Kingdom can draw near to men (Matt 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15); it can come (Matt 6:10; Luke 17:20), arrive (Matt 12:28), appear (Luke 19:11), be active (Matt 11:12). God can give the Kingdom to men (Matt 21:43; Luke 12:32), but men do not give the Kingdom to one another. Further, God can take the kingdom away from men (Matt 21:43), but men do not take it away from one another, although they can prevent others from entering it. Men can enter the Kingdom (Matt 5:20; 7:1; Mark 9:47; 10:23), but they are never said to erect it or to build it. Men can receive the Kingdom (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17), inherit it (Matt 25:34), and possess it (Matt 5:4), but they are never said to establish it. Men can reject the kingdom, i.e., refuse to receive it (Luke 10:11) or enter it (Matt 23:13), but they cannot destroy it. They can look for it (Luke 23:51), pray for its coming (Matt 6:10), and seek it (Matt 6:33; Luke 12:31), but they cannot bring it. Men may be in the Kingdom (Matt 5:19; 8:11; Luke 13:29), but we are not told that the Kingdom grows. Men can do things for the sake of the Kingdom (Matt 19:12; Luke 18:29), but they are not said to act upon the Kingdom itself. Men can preach the Kingdom (Matt 19:7; Luke 10:9), but only God can give it to men (Luke 12:32).” (George Ladd, The Presence of the Future)

God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility

The ladies at our church are going through Trusting God by Jerry Bridges and yesterday they covered the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. It got me thinking about this sermon from John MacArthur.

Living Under the Shadow of the Almighty

John G. Paton is one of my favorite missionaries. Paton was a Scottish missionary who died at the age of 83 in Australia after serving the people of the islands of New Hebrides for approximately 40 years. Maybe Paton is best known by his nickname which was given to him by Charles Spurgeon; Spurgeon called him “the king of the cannibals.” He was given this nickname because the New Hebrides islands were primarily populated by an unreached group of rivaling cannibalistic tribes and it was this rough bunch Paton felt called to preach the Gospel to.

In the early days and weeks of the Paton family living there, he got used to many tense nights as these tribal peoples would visit the area around the home to investigate and other times just to try to scare them away.

Paton writes in his diary of one particular evening when he was convinced they were going to burn their newly built home down to the ground with him and his family in it. Paton and his wife prayed God would deliver them. When daylight came, they were amazed to see that their attackers had left.

1 year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. And remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief’s response was a question: “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present and told the chief so, but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the home. They were afraid to enter this house – not because they feared the Patons – but they feared this place where the Most High was protecting.

Psalm 91:1-2 reads, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

God is a refuge. If He wasn’t, then the psalmist wouldn’t “abide under the shadow” of His God.

In the Ancient Near East, a house was more than a place to “hang your hat.” Homes were places of protection for the benefit of guests at no cost to them and at great cost to the homeowner. The home was a place of safety, not just for the family, but for any who needed a place to flee their enemies or to escape the weather or a predator. A home was a metaphor for protection.

Also, in this area of the world, there is little shade and the sun can be dangerous and oppressive. So, shadows also become metaphors for care and protection. The figures of “the secret place” and “shadow” depict protection and security. God Himself protects those who trust Him. God is a home for His people.

You know, many talk of the omnipresence of God or the protection of God. Many people understand theologically that He is a refuge. Others know what it means to run to God when they are in trouble. They know what it means to see Him as a refuge when they are in danger to.

But not enough people live under His protection. Some people look to God as a refuge, others run to it; but few live there. Not enough people live there and too many think they know what it means or just simply look for His protection when there is danger.

This psalmist lives “under the shadow” like a baby bird does it’s mother. God is the One to whom one must flee for refuge in dangerous and insecure circumstances. He will never cast his confidence to another.

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