The Knowledge of the Holy One: Holy, Holy, Holy

MJ or Kobe? The Shark or Tiger? Montana or Brady? Rivera or Hoffman? Howe or Gretzky? However you choose, you’re sure to find someone, somewhere who can explain one over the other and possibly begin to sway you toward someone not even in consideration. And such is the case when considering the attributes of God.

As the World Trade Centers once dominated the New York City skyline, the holiness of God is argued by some as the supreme attribute that towers above the others. This, of course, is figurative language since, as RC Sproul contends, “…all of God is all of his attributes in their entirety. God’s holiness is immutable, omnipotent, eternal, and omnipresent. In like manner his immutability is holy, omniscient, and eternal…Every attribute we ascribe to him applies to the whole of God. His attributes all exist mutually in a kind of reciprocity of attributes.”[1]

As was once true of NYC and the WTC, one cannot cast their gaze toward the face of God without the holiness of God gleaming against the night sky with brilliance and clarity. But what does “holy” mean, anyway?

Defining Holy

John Frame, in his excellent work [2] defines holiness in this way: “Holiness, then, is God’s capacity and right to arouse our reverent awe and wonder. It is his uniqueness (Ex. 15:11; 1 Sam. 2:2), his transcendence as our Creator. It is his majesty, for the holy God is like a great king, whom we dare not treat like other persons.” But this, if I may be so bold, describes God’s holiness from a reactive position. It’s almost sounds like God’s holiness would be lacking if humanity were not here to react to it/Him. Surely, that is not Frame’s position, in spite of how it may sound.

Pink, deriving at his definition from Revelation 15:4, 1 John 1:5 & Habakkuk 1:13, explains holiness as “the very antithesis of all moral blemish or defilement.”[3] Although I agree with the Holy Scriptures and Pink’s assessment, moral purity doesn’t quite go far enough, does it?

Tozer tackles the 400lb gorilla of God’s holiness with meekness, humility, and obscurity, when defaults to “Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is the standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is.”[4] And I can’t say that I blame him for retreating here! After all, this peasant has sought an audience with the King that I might know Him, and as my acquaintance grows my understanding becomes overwhelmed in the Sea of His Resplendence and I, too, come away in awe, incapable articulating what my heart screams about my interaction with Him.

It was one of our modern treasures from God that helped this beggar digest the meat of God’s glorious holiness. “When the Bible calls God holy, it primarily means that God is transcendently separate.”[5] What Sproul is saying is that God holiness means that he is completely distinct from all things (holy/sanctified: to be set apart), He is transcendent over all things (to be set above all), and His moral purity is the backdrop against which all things are measured (He is unstained by any imperfection).

He is Transcendentally Separate in His essence, being, and nature and all that God does is a natural outflow of who He is. Therefore, the Holy One’s activities are by necessity holy, separate, and above; even above our comprehension (Isaiah 55:8-9). It was Rudolph Otto who made a strong case God’s “Complete Otherness;” a point which I can concede so long as this proposition isn’t taken to mean that God is completely unknowable; only that he is entirely unknowable.

“Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory”(Yahweh in place of LORD added)![6] Transcendentally Separate, Transcendentally Separate, Transcendentally Separate, in essence and action is the God of Heaven, the Only, True, Living God. His glory is observable in all that is, ever was, and ever will be!

How Should We Respond to the Holiness of God?

Very simply: We adore, sing praises, marvel, stand in awe, fall prostrate, gawk, stand and point with our jaws gapping wide…silent because of his effulgence (it’s ok, stop what you’re doing and look up effulgence…it’s worth the extra 30 seconds if you’ve read this far already), if that were possible.

Worship.

It’s the only appropriate response to the Majesty that is the Holiness of God; a single word sentence full a beauty, complexity, and profundity that makes the heart of your Creator explode with joy as you experience Him! But this can only be done rightly in Spirit and in Truth, having been made holy by Him who is Holy.

Isaiah was purged of his filth and stood on his feet by a Divine act in the presence of the Holy One (Isaiah 6:7). And how did he respond? Paraphrasing, “Whatever you want, whatever you ask, wherever you send, pick me!” Like a 10 year old with his hand raised high, stretching his little fingers ever so higher, straining for even an additional millimeter so as to be noticed by “the big kids” while picking teams for sandlot kickball…”Pick me, pick me. I’ll do it for you! I’ll do a good job, I promise!” Isaiah responded in fear, terror, dread, and brokenness until the Holy One washed him clean, stood him upright, and gave the sinner the confidence needed to draw near to the throne of the Holy (Hebrews 4:16).

True Israel, the Church, is commanded to respond in faith, trust, and dependence upon Him. In Isaiah 43:3, God identifies Himself as “…the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” But just before He does, He issues this command in verse 1, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you.” The source of our trust and dependence upon Him stems from the utter incomprehensible truth that He saved us, redeemed us, and that by the His own blood at Calvary. If a holy God was willing to purchase our freedom from sin’s grip and its just sentence of death, what could we not trust and depend upon Him for? What is there to fear if the terror of The Holy One’s judgement has been replaced by the peace afforded to us by our position in His Son? This was the glory of Paul’s closing argument in Romans 8:31-39, “If God is for us, who can be against us…Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect…Who is to condemn…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or danger, or sword?..No…For I am sure…[nothing] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Faith.

It’s the only appropriate response to the Majesty that is the Holiness of God; a single word sentence full of beauty, complexity, and profundity that makes the heart of your Creator explode with joy as you experience Him! And yes, I am aware that I just copied a sentence from above. But, faith in the Holy One of Israel, Israel Himself, Jesus Christ, is the first acceptable act of worship stemming from the heart of flesh given rebellious man at regeneration. Listen to the words of Jesus from the disciple whom Jesus loved, “‘Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.’ Then [the people said to Jesus], ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”[7]

The Holiness of God on Display

Did you see it? The Gospel, that is. We respond rightly to the holiness of God by responding rightly to the Holy One of God (Mark 1:24), “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Sproul[8] agrees with Pink[9] when they write that God’s holiness is most visible in the cross of Christ (as well as perhaps all other attributes). Sproul writes, “The cross was at once the most horrible and the most beautiful example of God’s wrath. It was the most just and the most gracious act in history. God would have been more than unjust, He would have been diabolical to punish Jesus if Jesus had not first willingly taken on Himself the sins of the world. Once Christ had done that, once He volunteered to be the Lamb of God, laden with our sin, then he became the most grotesque and vile thing on this planet. With the concentrated load of sin he carried, he became utterly repugnant to the Father. God made Christ accursed for the sin He bore. Herein was God’s holy justice perfectly manifest. Yet it was done for us. He took what justice demanded from us. This ‘for us’ aspect of the Cross is what displays the majesty of its grace. At the same time justice and grace, wrath and mercy. It is too astonishing to fathom.” 

Indeed, it is.

Faith fueled worship empowered by God’s Spirit, from God’s Truth. That’s how God’s chosen from all ages have always responded to God’s Holiness.

How Then Shall We Live? 

The great puritan pastor and theologian Stephen Charnock accurately summarizes the new life in Christ afforded to those who have been birthed to holiness by Holiness, “As [holiness] is the splendor of all the Divine attributes, so it is the flower of all a Christian’s graces, the crown of all religion.”[10] We would do well to wear such a crown in obedience to our Lord as he charges all men everywhere, especially Believers, “…be holy, for I am Holy…”[11] (emphasis added).

May God grant us the grace necessary us to be so.

[1] RC Sproul, Truths We Confess, pg. 36-37

[2] John Frame, Systematic Theology, pg. 276-279

[3] AW Pink, The Attributes of God, pg. 33

[4] AW Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, pg.105

[5] RC Sproul, The Holiness of God, pg. 46

[6] Holy Bible, ESV, Isaiah 6:3

[7] Ibid. John 6:27-29

[8] RC Sproul, The Holiness of God, pg. 147

[9] AW Pink, The Attributes of God, pg. 34-35

[10] Stephen Charnock, Existence and Attributes, pg. 529

[11] Holy Bible, ESV, Leviticus 11:44

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Peter and the Life of a Sojourner

In the Book of First Peter the apostle deals with the overarching idea of finding meaning in the Christian life,especially in the reality of being called to live out this life as Sojourners. In the first chapter of the Book he lays the ground work by grounding the reader in the fact that we have a special identity, one that was given to us by God at our new birth. This new identity entails not just a new home, but a new way of life. A life no longer grounded in the passions of the flesh leading to destruction but one grounded in the pursuit of the Lord.

In the middle of the first chapter (13-21) Peter begins to lay out a series of exhortations for how we are to be prepared to live out the Christian life. Each one of these exhortations helps us to see the way forward in living out the christian life especially in a world that is broken by sin. 1) Our Hope must be fully set on the Grace of God, 2) we are called to pursue holiness as a part of the journey, 3) we must remember that the Grace of God didn’t come cheaply, and 4) we do not travel alone.

Our Hope

To truly understand and experience the Grace of God we are called to place our full Hope in it, not a wishful hope but a fully ground and expectant hope. We do this by preparing ourselves for action. The Christian life is not a passive life but an active one. It sees the world for what it truly is and is prepared to endure trials and tribulations knowing that in it righteousness is grown and others come to faith. So we cannot be indulging in the worlds passions and at the same time be prepared for the assault that comes, nor as the text reminds us can we become intoxicated by the world and lose sight of the home for which we journey. To have your hope fully secured in the Grace of God is to be ready for action and sober of mind.

Holiness of God

It is only from a state of hope that we can truly understand what it means to love God and experience the abiding joy that obedience will bring. Therefore, with our minds sober and ready for action we can now clearly understand Peter’s words as he calls us to live out our lives in Holiness. This holiness is connected to the fact that we are the Children of God and as such we mirror Him to the world around us, just as we are images of your earthly parents and all those who have born our names in this world. We are His children who have been reborn out of the ignorance of the world. He has given us new minds and a new heart so that we may live out the faith in holiness, grounded in the grace of God. The call to holiness is a call to forgive and be forgiven, it’s a call to walk in the knowledge of God not the ignorance of the World, and it is hope not despair.

We as believers are being called into a new life reflecting on the grace of God and committed to the holiness that it produces in us. Too often this is where we begin to go sideways, We somehow think the Holiness of God is something we now produce, but in the text it is a result of the new birth. It is who you are. Therefore we are called to walk according to the character we now posses and stop living like who we were. We are the Children of the Living God, and with our Hope firmly secured in the grace of Christ we know we are Holy before God, therefore let us walk in holiness before the world, that they may Know the God we serve.

The Cost of Holy Grace

So why do we set our hope in the grace of God and live our lives in Holiness, because we have been purchased by the Blood of Christ. Peter Reminds us once again that it was the Blood of Christ given without respect for persons that set us free. We were bought not with money, but with blood, but not just any blood. We were paid for by the blood of the living God, who judges impartially and who loves us as well. So with a holy and hopeful fear we are called to live out the Gospel hope, knowing that it is He who has set us free, and it is to Him who we live our lives; no longer seeking the pleasures of this world, but living for the life to come as Chosen Sojourners, who by resting in the grace of God that paid for our sins are able to walk in Holiness, being always prepared for the trials that will come, knowing fully that it is God who sustains us.

Why the World Needs the Church

We live in a time of growing polarization on many levels. People are divided politically and culturally in this nation. The long-held ways of the past are constantly clashing with the new way of openness and diversity. Because of this, many in the church believe we should downplay our differences and speak only of our similarities with the world around us. After all, we’ve been out of touch with society in the past. But God’s Word has a completely different solution to the problem we face. Instead of minimizing our differences with the world, Scripture elevates them. In fact, the Bible teaches that it is our very separateness with the world that will most effectively impact it.

The World Needs our Gospel-Shaped Living

In Philippians 3:17-4:1, the Apostle Paul describes the difference between the world and the church. Here he gives us at least five reasons we are different from the unbelieving world in which we live.

We have a different enemy – The world is at enmity with the gospel itself. Paul says they, “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18). The Person and work of Christ has always and will always face opposition in the public arena. This is because the gospel message is a call to repent and surrender all allegiance of self to God’s commands, something the world cannot bring itself to do. Many people do not understand why they hate the gospel, they just do. Jesus said they hate “without a cause” (John 15:25). As the church, our enmity is not with sinners, but with sin and Satan. Although the world can’t understand how we can hate sin and love sinners, we must maintain this distinction.

We have a different future – In Philippians 3:19, Paul says, “their end is destruction.” The trajectory of the world’s manner of living is eternal torment in hell. Whereas, Paul says in verse 20, “But our citizenship is in heaven.” It can’t get any more different than that.

We have a different authority – We are told, “their god is their belly.” Sinful desires rule the lives of unbelievers and determine why they do what they do and how they do it. The church is dominated by the higher authority of God’s Word and is even commanded to, “put to death” our sinful desires.

We have a different source of confidence – Unbelievers are said to, “glory in their shame.” What ought to make them blush actually can be their greatest source of pride. This is why they call it “Gay Pride” instead of shame. But this applies to all worldly people, whether gay or straight. Men pride themselves on their sexual escapades or their extravagant lifestyles. Women pride themselves on the shape of their bodies or their fashion instinct. Yet as the church, our only source of boasting is to be the cross of Christ. Paul tells the church at Galatia, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).

We have a different mindset – Also, we’re told at the end of verse 19, the world has, “minds set on earthly things.” In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul contrasted the mind set on the things of the flesh with the mind set on the things of the Spirit.

In these ways, it is pretty obvious how different we are from the world around us, yet that is exactly what the world needs the most. When Christ saves us, He transforms us so that the world will see more clearly it’s need for transformation.

The World Needs our Evangelistic Love 

Paul couldn’t speak of the unregenerate without tears in his eyes and we shouldn’t be able to either. In Philippians 3:18, he mentions his “tears” over those who turn aside from the gospel. I have had the chance to counsel a few parents who weep over the lost condition of their unbelieving children, yet who feel this annoys their children. But I encouraged these parents that their spiritual concern can weigh heavy on a child’s soul over time. Think about all the lost around the world with no one truly pleading for their spiritual well-being. Now think of those you know who are lost and how you’re concerned about them. The mere fact that God has placed these lost people around his redeemed people could mean he intends to save them. May our hearts break over the unbelievers around us.

The World Needs our Heavenward Longing 

When the world sees a group of people longing for a multi-cultural home of love and peace and joy outside this world, it makes them wonder. The world has been aiming for a utopia experience with shared love between all races and backgrounds and yet has never been able to achieve it due to sin. Paul says in Philippians 3:20-21a, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.” We not only long for heaven itself, but for heaven’s King and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We also long for the new and glorified bodies we will be given at Christ’s return. As C.S. Lewis has so rightly put it, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” The world chases its pleasures and always comes up short; then they discover that their bodies are fading away too and can’t find any reason for hope beyond this life. Meanwhile, the church seems to have a serious certainty, even joyful eagerness to see this world come to an end and the next begin.

So embrace the difference Christ has made in your life, for it is an excellent evangelism tool for those around you. Let them see you living before them differently, loving them in an other-worldly kind of way, and longing for the consummation of Christ’s kingdom. 

After all, maybe God will use it bring the hope of the gospel to bear in their lives.

Adopting the Divine Attribute

When God’s people hear “Be patient” (James 5:7-8) from the Holy Scriptures we must come armed with more knowledge and understanding than the world in our circumstances if we are to be obedient to this command. I may be entirely wrong about this assumption but I believe that the vast majority of the populace, even inside the church, view patience as an attitude toward a circumstance. But God’s Word deals with two primary kinds of patience, endurance for a season and mercy toward a people.

Thirty-six times the New Testament (ESV) uses the word patience, or a variant of that same root word. But of those thirty-six times, twelve of them speak directly to “enduring for a period of time.” The Greek word “Hupomeno” (transliterated) is used in these instances, but never of God’s patience. This seems to make sense to me as I consider the fact that God lives outside of time, has ordained all things, and is working all things together according to the counsel of his own will. However, when God’s patience comes into view the Greek word “Makrothumeo” (transliterated) is used; and that twenty-four times.

“Makrothumeo” is not a passive patience but an active patience. A patience that manifests itself in tangible ways. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament describes Makrothumeo as “to delay [God’s] wrath, i.e., its outbreak…to be longsuffering…” God’s Makrothumeo is made most fully known in His divine self-revelation to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7 when “The LORD passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”

We find the manifestation of divine patience (Makrothumeo) scattered all throughout the New Testament:

Matthew 18:26 & 29—Patience manifested in mercy, grace, and the forgiveness of a debt owed. Makrothumeo of God the Father

1 Timothy 1:16—Patience manifested in mercy toward the Apostle Paul so that he might become an example of God’s patience to others. Makrothumeo of God the Son.

Galatians 5:22—Patience as a fruit produced by the Holy Spirit through the lives of believers submitted to His leading. Makrothumeo of God the Holy Spirit

Most interestingly, the Makrothumeo of God is commanded of believers. Literally, the manifestation of Godly Patience, exhibited in mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love is a non-negotiable for the Redeemed, the Called-Out-Ones, The Church! Stop right now and read James 5:7. Seriously. It’s Makrothumeo…

How do we handle persecution, hardship, trial, racism, neglect, sexism, transgenderism, LGBTQ, political differences, marriage problems, disputes with the neighbor, struggles with our kids, etc…? The Makrothumeo of God: mercy, grace, being slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love, and forgiving even as we have been forgiven.

As AW Pink reminds us in his Attributes of God, “When tempted to be disgusted at the dullness of another, or to be revenged on one who has wronged you, call to remembrance God’s infinite patience and longsuffering with yourself…Since this divine attribute is manifested only in this world, God takes advantage to display it toward ‘His own.’” We would be wise to do the same.

“Therefore be emulators of God…” (Ephesians 5:1).

Lord, let it be true of me first.

Be Disciplined for Christ

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9:27)

When It comes to the Christian life we must think deeply about our commitment to holiness and a pursuit of Christ and the gospel in all we do. What Paul writes to the Corinthians is no less true today. He is addressing a church in distress and full of heresy and conflict. Brothers and sisters in Christ are living in open sin while others are being shunned and pushed aside because of their social status. This is at its core a church divided, a church who has become more concerned with their personal rights and desires than the gospel. They lost holiness and self-control. The lost sight of preaching the truth and living it out in a world that was dying.

When we look at the world today we continue to see a lack of self-control, humility, grace towards many in our churches, and especially towards those outside. So, today’s post is more of a reflection and a look inward. Paul while writing to this divided church took a moment to look at his own heart to instruct. He points out that the Christian life is hard, that it requires a life of commitment towards God and the desire to love and serve the family of God in humility, and reach out as a servant. Earlier in this very chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul reflected on what it meant to lay down his rights for the gospel, because the gospel was paramount. His aim was to bring glory to God and to do so he lived a life pursuant to the gospel command and the model set before him in Christ.

During this tumultuous time, we as believers need to reflect on how we are presenting the gospel to the world around us, whether or not we’re seeking to become all things to all people for the sake for the gospel, and whether our desire to be right or more important. I’ll confess even this past week I got into a minor disagreement and allowed my need to be right to surpass my need to be Christ, and the spirit convicted me of that fact and brought me back to this text and the point Paul wants us to see. We are gospel people first and foremost. We have been saved and set free from sin and death and given a new life. We have joy abundantly in him, that the world could take our life and we inherit a greater one.

However, there are those on the outside. They live under the wrath of God. They are stuck in sin, whether it brings them happiness or pain it’s destination is the same. They live in pursuit of that which is not God. They may even ‘drink smoke and chew and go with girls who do’ to quote an old pastor of mine. The point is they need the gospel and the truth it brings, and we need to discipline our bodies and run the race set before us to reach them. Our personal holiness is an evangelistic holiness. We are called to them. We are called to lay down the things that are not the gospel to reach them with it.

Part of what we do is grow in holiness for the sake for the cross. Paul points to the hope we have in Christ as the motivation for running the race. So, when we speak online or in person are we more concerned with their desire to see Christ in us and through us or us being right and seen as such? Anyone who knows me knows I like being right, but at the same time I know and am being reminded by the truth of the gospel and that being right for the sake of being right is not worth the loss of my gospel witness.

It is not worth running the race in vain.

So will you join me in running the race with grace and holiness, seeking to become all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel? That we may be witness’ to a dying world? That through the work of Christ we may see lives changed by the power of the Gospel which is the only true salvation in this life?

How the Omni’s Reveal God’s Holiness

This past Wednesday I asked the question ‘What does God say He is like?’ and then answered that question with one word repeated three times: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’ Today we ask another question about God’s holiness: in what ways do we see the holiness of God most clearly? We see this in the Omni’s.

The Omni’s

Omnipresence – when the Latin word ‘omni’ (meaning ‘all’) is paired with our word presence we get the word omnipresence. To say that God is omnipresent is to say God is all-present. 1 Kings 8:27 says heaven and earth can’t contain God. Jeremiah 23:23-24 says God is a God at hand and not far away, that no man can hide in secret places so that God cannot see him. Acts 17:28 says God is not far from any man. The main text to see God’s omnipresence is Psalm 139:7-10 which says, ‘Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.’

That God is all-present in all times and in all places means there is nowhere we can go where God is not. Theologians of church history call this God’s immensity and mean by this word immensity that God transcends all spatial limitations, and yet is present in every point of space with His whole being. So God is both transcendent in that He is outside of time and space, but He is also immanent in that He is ‘a God at hand and not far away’ to each person who has lived, is living, or will ever live.

At this point we must take caution to stay away from the false teaching of pantheism which teaches that God is the substance of all things. We should believe that God is present in all things, but take caution to say that God remains distinct from all things. God is present in the atoms that makeup a tree but God is not a tree, etc. Also God is not equally present in the same sense in all things. He is not present on earth as He now is in heaven, He is not present in animals as He is in man, and He is not present in the wicked as He is in the righteous.

Omniscience – when the Latin word ‘omni’ is paired with our word science (which means knowledge) we get the word omniscience. To say that God is omniscient is to say that God is all-knowing. He is perfect in knowledge, Job 37:16. God fully knows our hearts, 1 Sam. 16:7. God knows the places of our habitations, Acts 17:26. God knows what we need before we pray, Matthew 6:32. God knows when we sit down, when we rise up, He knows our thoughts, motivations, actions, and habits, He is acquainted with all our ways and before a word is on our tongue He knows it altogether, Psalm 139:1-4. Hebrews 4:12-13 says God’s Word searches out the heart of man, into the deepest parts, and knows the thoughts and intentions of all men. The main text to see this is Romans 11:33-36 where Paul is soaring in praise saying, ‘Oh the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever, amen.’

God knows all things. He knows Himself fully, He knows all that comes from Him, He knows all things as that actually come to pass (past, present, future), and knows all things that could have possibly come to pass (past, present, future). He knows the hidden things, the mysteries of Duet. 29:29, He knows the depths of human heart, and His knowledge is the source of all other knowledge on this planet, so much that if something is true, it came from God. Or to say it another way, no knowledge exists apart from God’s knowledge because all truth is God’s truth.

Omnipotence – when the Latin word ‘omni’ is paired with our word potent we get the word omnipotence. To say that God is omnipotent is to say God is all-powerful. Jeremiah 32:27 and Genesis 18:14 say nothing too hard for the Lord. Matthew 3:9 proclaims that God is able. Job 9:12 says no one can turn God’s hand back. Job 42:2 says no purpose of God’s can be thwarted. Matthew 19:26 says with God all things are possible. Romans 1:20 says God’s power is clearly seen from what has been made. Ephesians 1:19 speaks of God’s immeasurable power toward those who believe.

The whole thought of God’s omnipotence is carried into the name the Patriarchs used ‘El Shaddai’ which means God Almighty. So God’s power is tied to God’s might in the name El Shaddai, and throughout the rest of Scripture we see His power portrayed clearly and strongly in both judgment towards the wicked and in grace toward the saints.

Now we should also state that the Bible states there are things God cannot do. For example, Numbers 23:19 says God cannot lie or change His mind, 1 Samuel 15:29 says God cannot regret, 2 Timothy 2:13 says God cannot be unfaithful to His people, Hebrews 6:18 says it is impossible for God to lie, James 1:13 says God cannot be tempted by evil, and James 1:17 says God cannot change or vary. These passages impact our definition of omnipotence, making it more something like this: God is all-powerful, He can do all that His Word says He can do, or perhaps more clearly, God in His power can and does bring to pass all within His holy will that is in accord with His holy nature.

Learn here to rest in His power. I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

So to sum up: the one defining characteristic of God is His holiness. God is holy, completely other, unlike no one, 100% unique, incomparable and beautiful, and therefore He is most worthy and of all our praise and devotion. Where do we His otherness the most clearly? We see it in His omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. These Omni’s show how God is able to: create, guide, govern, redeem, rescue, deliver, and defend His people.

What is God Like? He is Holy, Holy, Holy

For the past few weeks on the blog I’ve covered introductory matters in systematic theology like: the importance of theology, the way in which God reveals Himself to us, and the nature of the Bible.

To use a climbing analogy: these first few weeks have been our hike to the mountain, and today, we begin climbing our first and largest of the 7Summits of systematic theology, the doctrine of God. Here in the doctrine of God we’ll discover God’s character, and that is why this is the first of our 7Summits, because if we understand the character of God we’ll then understand every other doctrine in Scripture.

So what is God like? It seems that there are as many opinions about God as there are people on the planet, which means the answer to this question can feel largely subjective and ambiguous. Though this is the case we must always remember that when it comes down to it, it really doesn’t matter what we think God is like. God is who He is. Whether or not we agree with God concerning what He says about Himself doesn’t change anything. God is who God says He is, and that’s the end of the matter. So rather than asking ‘What is God like?’ let’s ask another question. ‘What does God say He is like?’ That is a question with a clear answer.

He is Holy

The first time God meets with Moses in Exodus at the burning bush God tells Moses in 3:5, ‘Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ The reason the ground is holy isn’t because there’s something special or unique about the ground but because God was there, and He is holy. For God to be holy means He is separate, unlike anything or anyone else, that He is utterly unique, transcendent, majestic, and His holiness compels us to worship Him.

Thus Moses was to show a reverence and respect by removing his shoes. Later when God gathers all Israel around Mt. Sinai to hear His Law He warns them in Exodus 19:23 to not come near the mountain, for the whole mountain was holy. The temple was called a holy place, and the innermost part of the temple was called the ‘most holy place’ in Exodus 26:33. This of course was the space inside the veil, and because it was the most holy place there were strict rules and regulations to follow if a priest was to enter into it. What does all this mean? If Moses couldn’t come near God in the burning bush because of God’s holiness, if Israel couldn’t come near the mountain because of God’s holiness, and if a priest had to follow very strict regulations to enter into the God’s Most Holy Place we learn that there is something treacherous (perhaps even dangerous) to man about God’s holiness.

You see, we are not holy, thus God tells us to back away. If man is to approach the holy God we must come near in awe and wonder rather than carelessly and lightly. And when we come in reverent awe and wonder we find a beautiful thing happen – God makes us holy. God’s people are called God’s ‘holy people’ in Exodus 19:6, who gather on a holy day (Exodus 16:23) in a holy assembly (Exodus 12:16) where holy sacrifices would be offered (Exodus 26:33) by a holy priest anointed with holy oil (Exodus 30:25) wearing holy garments (Exodus 31:10).

This is really, the entire point of the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus we read of regulations, rites, rituals, sacrifices, offerings, and many laws about this and that – because of one massive reality – a holy God must only be approached by a holy people. And as we move into the New Testament nothing changes. Jesus is called holy many times, and now God calls His people ‘saints’ or ‘holy ones’ who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and are members of His holy church.

The central teaching on holiness in the Bible comes from one place – Isaiah 6. Here again we see one thing clearly, God is holy. Notice the song the seraphim sang in v3 where it says, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory!” The significance of the anthem of the angels is enormous. The Jewish people had various ways to express emphasis in their literature, and they used these expressions in the Bible. We do the same today to emphasize things: we may use italics, we may put a word in all caps or bold letters to draw attention to it, or maybe even attach very intense or alarming descriptive adjectives to the word we want to emphasize to get attention. Isaiah did the same and in his culture the way to communicate something that carried with it a supreme importance was a rhetorical device called the Trisagion, or the threefold repetition. Notice how 6:3 is phrased? The seraphim cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” What does this mean? This means first what it says, that God is holy. But it means more.

When taking into account the use of the Trisagion, the use of the threefold repetition, we see something further. In all of the Scripture from Genesis – Revelation this verse is the only place where we see an attribute (or characteristic) of God written three times in a row. So God is not holy, He’s not even holy, holy; He is holy, holy, holy. Nowhere do we see the Bible say that God is sovereign, sovereign, sovereign – or love, love, love – or mercy, mercy, mercy – or righteous, righteous, righteous – or just, just, just. Nowhere in Scripture do we see an attribute of God have such importance.

Now, be aware that it is dangerous to try to pit one attribute of God against another, or to try to assemble a hierarchy of attributes so as to make one more important than others. This is an error people make all the time. In talking with others about God’s character, especially when we’re talking about His sovereignty or justice, or wrath, I hear people say, “I don’t believe that, my God is a God of love, He would never do such a thing.” I usually agree with these people and say ‘Of course, your God wouldn’t do that, because your God doesn’t exist.’ As R.C. Sproul says, “We can’t come to the Bible as if it were a cafeteria line, putting things on our plate only if they are delectable to our tastes, leaving the others we don’t like. We come to the Bible on its terms.”

So, we cannot construct a hierarchy of attributes as if one were more important than others. But if the Bible shows us that out of all the attributes of God there is one attribute of God that rises to the top in supreme importance – we must believe it. Such is the holiness of God. The use of the threefold repetition of holy, holy, holy teaches us that the one defining characteristic of God’s nature is His holiness.

What is God like? He is holy.

This is why all throughout the entire book of Isaiah, Isaiah refers to God as ‘the Holy One of Israel.’ (10:20, 12:6, 17:7, and so on) Therefore we must speak of all of God’s attributes underneath God’s holiness. His love is a holy love, His wrath is a holy wrath, His mercy is a holy mercy, His justice is a holy justice, and so on, and so on.

The Holiness of God on His Throne

Revelation 4-5 put 4 of the largest Biblical realities on display for us, that when taken together show us not only the universal nature of the Church, they show us the true nature of the gospel:

Reality #1: The Holiness of God (4:1-11)

We learn from 4:1 that John is now having another vision, and in this vision he sees an open door in heaven, and hears a voice speaking to him like a trumpet. The voice says, ‘Come up here and I will show what must take place after this.’ Remember John is still on the island of Patmos at this point, he hasn’t been physically taken to heaven, but while on the island John receives a vision of heaven. v2 sets the stage, John immediately says he was ‘in the Spirit’ (just as he was in 1:10) and John sees a throne standing in heaven with One seated on the throne. This is none other than the Lord, God Almighty seated on His throne in glory. Now, John has seen an earthly temple before, he was probably even familiar with the layout of Solomon’s temple, but now for the first time in his life John witnesses, not the earthly copy, but the heavenly original and what he sees in the throne room of heaven is stunning.

v3 says God’s appearance was like the precious gems jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was an emerald rainbow. Further around the throne v4 says there were 24 thrones, on which sat 24 elders who were all clothed in white, with golden crowns on their heads. Further still John says in v5 that thunder, lightning, and absolute power are streaming out from the throne.

These images make us think back to Mt. Sinai and other places like it where God revealed Himself to His people with powerful displays of His Kingly authority and sovereign rule. You can imagine what John was feeling like at this point – he probably felt something like a terrified wonder entering his heart and exploding through all his senses. v5 continues describing the presence of the Holy Spirit saying it was like seven torches of fire burning and the seven spirits of God. John then sees a sea before the throne. Not a stormy or wild sea, but a calm sea; a sea of glass, like crystal that appears to have no shore. As if John isn’t already overwhelmed he see’s more still. v6b-8a mention living creatures around the throne, full of eyes around and within, the 1st like a lion, the 2nd like an ox, the 3rd like a man, and the 4th like an eagle in flight. Similar to Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6 these creatures have six wings and day and night they never cease to proclaim: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”

v9 states that each time these living creatures proclaim the holiness of God, giving glory and honor to Him who is seated on the throne who lives forever and ever, that the 24 elders fall down before God, cast their crowns down, and worship Him saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.”

So see the vision John is beholding here.

God, in His matchless holiness and Kingly authority seated on His throne, while there seems to be the whole host of heaven around the throne worshipping Him with refrain after refrain, responding to one another in their worship and never-ceasing in such delightfully fearful activity. This is all about God. It isn’t about anything else. God, simply based on who He is, demands such worship.

This is the vision of John, and for John this must have been highly encouraging. I say this because in Revelation what happens before chapter 4? In chapters 2-3 we have the letters to the churches, most of which are messed up and enormously sinful. What a contrast this is between the sin in the Church and the pure vibrancy of worship happening around the throne. That the vision of the throne room in 4-5 is placed directly after the letters to the seven churches is meant to show us that chapters 4-5 serve as a correction or an antidote to the problems we see in chapters 2-3.

Is this not also encouraging to us? In the midst of all the sin that happens within the Church, where is God? Sitting on His throne, dwelling in endless praise, ruling with authority. Take heart, you who are suffering – take heart, you who struggle and fight with overwhelming sin – take heart, you who grieve over the condition of the world and those in it – God is on the His throne, He is still in control.

The question that comes into view next leads us to the next reality we see in these two chapters – how could we ever approach such a holy God?

Enter Revelation 5 where we see the dilemma of worthiness, the work of Christ, and the worship of all peoples. I’ll cover these in my next few posts.

Holiness Is A Reflection of God

Lastly we see this in 1 Peter 1:13-16…

Holiness is a Reflection of God (v15-16)

It is said that the moon, though appearing to be very bright, has no light of it’s own – it only reflects the sun. The same is true of us, in and of ourselves we have no holiness, we are mere reflectors of God’s pure light.

Peter says this in our passage in v15 and v16. In v15 he says ‘…as He who called you is holy, you also be holy…” while v16 quotes Leviticus 11:44 where God says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” These two verses teach us that the foundation of our own holiness is God’s holiness, further, that our holiness is a reflection of God’s holiness.

This should come as no surprise to you. God’s one dominating and all-encompassing attribute is His holiness.

We never read of God being ‘love, love, love’ or ‘just, just, just’ or ‘grace, grace, grace’ or ‘wrath, wrath, wrath.’ We never even read of God being ‘sovereign, sovereign, sovereign.’ The one thing the Bible does say in Isaiah 6:3 is that God is ‘Holy, holy, holy.’  This makes God’s love a holy love.  This makes God’s justice a holy justice.  His grace and mercy become a holy grace and holy mercy.  His wrath is a holy wrath, His sovereignty is a holy authority.

Bottom line?

Because God is holy, we’re to be holy.  If we claim Him as our Father, and our Father is holy, holy, holy, the family resemblance should be seen in us.

In this we see the gospel, and should be stunned at what God has done through His Son in our behalf.  Mark Jones says, “Nothing should provide us with more awe and delight: the Holy One of God was declared unholy, so that unholy sinners might stand unblemished before a Holy God.”

What Does Holiness Really Look Like For Us?

So we have a question to answer before us: what does a pursuit of holiness look like? J.C. Ryle in his book ‘Holiness’ (1877) gives us 10 markers of true holiness. I’ll walk through them one at a time:

1) Holiness is being of one mind with God – this means we agree with God in His Word, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word.

2) Holiness is to fear God – not a slavish fear but a reverent fear, understanding that fearing God is the beginning of wisdom, and that through the fear of God men depart from sin.

3) Holiness is an endeavor to shun every sin and keep every commandment – meaning in all things we aim to obey God, which of course implies the opposite – in all things we aim to never disobey God.

4) Holiness is to be humble – slow to speak, quick to listen, not rash or hasty but gentle and confidently calm, counting others as more important than ourselves.

5) Holiness is to watch our life closely – Luke 21:34, “Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life…” A Christian is a person who doesn’t act on every impulse, but who weighs them carefully – rejecting some while embracing others.

6) Holiness is to be charitable – in all that we do in life Christians are to be merciful and gracious people who remember the golden rule, doing as we would have others do to us.

7) Holiness is to be pure – hating all things corrupt and impure, setting no vile thing before our eyes, the Christian seeks to flee immorality of all kinds recognizing it for what it is, sin.

8) Holiness is to be faithful – this is an awareness that in all things: work or play, public or private, at home or abroad, all of life is to be lived as to the Lord, seeking to do the best we can do in all we do.

9) Holiness is to be spiritually minded – endeavoring to place our minds entirely on things above not on things below. Really believing our treasure is in heaven and not on earth, and thus making it a pattern in life to be much in the Word and much in prayer.

10) Holiness is striving to be like Jesus – meaning not only seeking to live life as He did and draw all of our strength from Him, but pressing forward to be conformed into His image. J.C. Ryle says here, “Much time would be saved, and much sin prevented if men would more often ask themselves the question ‘What would Christ do or say if He were in my place now?’

So after hearing these ten things describing what a pursuit of holiness looks like let me ask you – are you holy?

Do you know the holiness I’ve been speaking of?

I am not asking if you attend church regularly, or if you’ve been baptized or have taken the Lord’s Supper. I am not asking you if you wear the name ‘Christian.’ I am not asking if you approve of holiness in others, or like to read books about the lives of holy people, or like to talk about holy things, or own many holy books. I am not asking you want to be holy or hope to be holy some day in the future. I am asking something more – are you holy?

Others will see the character of God in your life if your pursue holiness. You will see the character of God more clearly if you pursue holiness. More so, the world will see the character of God in our local churches if we all are individually pursuing holiness.

Think of a lighthouse here. They blow no horns and demand no applause, they just shine, and in their light others can see things for what they really are. Do you shine? By your light can others see God for who He really is?

The honest answers to these questions will tell us much about ourselves and our churches.

Holiness Is A Pursuit

The second point coming from 1 Peter 1:13-16 is this…

Holiness is a Pursuit (v14-15)

As Peter continues he says in v14-15, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct…”

Here we are presented with the reality that for Christians, holiness is to be pursued. v14 and v15 say the same thing in different ways. v14 says it negatively saying ‘do not be conformed to ignorant passions’ and v15 says it positively saying ‘be holy in all your conduct.’ When you combine the commands in v14 and v15 you have a clear picture of what the pursuit of holiness looks like. Since we’re called to not conform to ignorant and wicked passions, being holy means we conform to what is good, what is true, and what is beautiful. What is good, true, and beautiful? God Himself.

We’ve seen this in Old Testament Israel, they were set apart by God from the surrounding nations to be holy. Now Christ’s Church is to be set apart from sin and the surrounding world to be holy herself. Israel was to look different from her neighbors, and now the Church, though in the world, is to look different from the world. v14 calls this type of life ‘obedient.’ Therefore obedience for every Christian means conforming to Christ rather than the world around us. This means holiness is not optional for the Church. Holiness is not just something for mature Christians, holiness is not just something for pastors and elders, holiness is for all Christians, in all times, in all places.

I know that each of you has at one time or another asked God this question, ‘God, what is Your will for my life?’ Listen to 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” You can’t get clearer than that right? Sanctification is the ongoing work of God’s free grace in the believer to make us holy. What is God’s will for you? His will is that you be holy. This isn’t something to pray about, as if we could sit back and ask God ‘God do you want me to be holy today?’ The answer is clear and simple – YES!

Ecclesiastes 3 said it first and the 60’s pop band The Byrds said it second in 1965 that there’s a time for everything under the sun, a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to tear down, a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to laugh, and a time to weep. You ever notice it doesn’t say ‘a time to be holy?’ This is because there is never a time, not even a second, when the Christian is not to be holy. Out of all the things in our lives, holiness must be the Christian’s main pursuit.

Why?

Because of Hebrews 12:14, “Strive for…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

Holiness Is A Response to God’s Grace

To speak of holiness, let’s turn our attention to 1 Peter 1:13-16 where we find Peter concluding a section about how we’re to live in present while we’re waiting for the future return of Christ.

In context, 1 Peter 1:3-4 make mention of our inheritance in Christ that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. This inheritance, v5 says, is kept in heaven for us WHO by God’s power are being kept, guarded through faith until the revelation (literally – apocalypse) of Jesus Christ in the end of days. v8 mentions it is this faith of ours, though tested and tried, that will bring glory and praise and honor to God at the apocalypse of Jesus Christ. v9 says at the second coming of Christ we will obtain the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls. Then down in v13-16 Peter draws his first major implication of how we’re to live now while we wait for Jesus to return.

Holiness is a Response to Grace (v13)

Notice that it’s the grace we’ll receive at ‘the revelation of the Jesus Christ’ (literally the apocalypse of Christ), that moves us to do certain things here and now. v13 calls us to ‘prepare our minds for action,’ ‘be sober-minded,’ and to ‘set our hope fully on the grace to come.’ These phrases indicate that the knowledge of future grace to come will lead to living lives of holiness now. Do you see that? Knowing that God in His grace will one day come and make all things right when Jesus returns will lead us to prepare our minds for action, and be sober minded today. These phrases ‘prepare your mind for action’ and ‘be sober minded’ are a call to use discipline, effort, and labor in regard to spiritual living. Or to say it another way, this is a call to live holy lives. We do not set our hope fully on our own effort, we set our hope fully on God’s grace, but do you see how setting your hope on God’s grace leads to effort and spiritual discipline?

This means that holiness is a response to God’s grace.

The grace in view here is both past tense and future tense. The verses leading up to this passage, particularly v1-7, make it plain that in Christ we have received grace; and v8-13 make it plain that we will one day receive more grace when Jesus returns. So see what God is up to here – grace behind us and grace before us, changes how to live right now.

It’s just like a springtime flower. As the flower’s natural response is to open and blossom when it feels the suns warmth and light, so too, the Christian’s natural response is to live a holy life when it beholds and basks in the pure light of the Holy Christ. In this regard C.S. Lewis once commented in a letter, ‘How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets real thing, it is irresistible.’ (C.S. Lewis)

Holiness is first and foremost a response to God’s grace.

We Don’t Really Care About Holiness

In 325 AD the Nicene Creed defined the Church by giving it 4 marks saying this in the last paragraph: “And we believe in One, Holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church.”

Today we turn our attention to this second mark of the Church: Holy.

Tim Challies has said, “The subject of holiness is of the deepest importance for every Christian. I am aware that, in speaking of this, I could have chosen a subject perhaps more agreeable, and I know for a fact I could have chosen a subject easier to handle than holiness, but I’ve chosen such a topic this morning because I aim to make you aware that few things are as profitable to the eternal well-being of our souls than the subject of holiness.”  To this we now turn.

When I was young and thought of the word ‘holy’ I would think of certain people from history like Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and even Jesus. But when someone spoke to me of holiness I would think of rules, regulations, laws, structure, discipline, and work. My thoughts as a young boy reflect how the world thinks about the concept of being holy or holiness, and after having been a Christian and spending large amounts of time within the Church I think that, though there are exceptions, by and large the Church feels the same way about holiness as the world does.

This reveals something about us that we should just be honest about. We don’t really care about holiness do we? I mean, we love the gospel, we love the cross, we love the resurrection, and we love the grace of God. And this is right for us to love grace this deeply, God has saved us from so much hasn’t He? But why is it that we give so little attention to all that God has saved us too? With this in mind Kevin DeYoung asks a probing question in his recent book The Hole in our Holiness saying, ‘Shouldn’t those most passionate about the gospel and God’s glory also be those most dedicated to the pursuit of godliness?’

Perhaps it really is because we don’t care about holiness.

Perhaps it’s because we have no idea what a holy life really looks like and think holiness is a simple refrain of don’ts. ‘Don’t dance, don’t smoke, don’t chew, and don’t go with girls who do.’

Perhaps we fear being legalistic, or getting into a religion of rules and are frightened by words like effort, discipline, and work thinking they’ve got no place in a faith centered on grace.

Well, whatever you’re opinion of holiness is I’ve found that most people have one thing in common – we know we’re not holy.  We’ll look deeper into this in the next few posts.

A-Z Theology: An Exercise on Holiness

Well, we’ve done it. 26 days through the alphabet focusing on holiness each day. Thanks for sticking with me through the whole time and being good sports as I try out something new.

To end I want to summarize the whole 26 days in two sentences: A holy God can only be approached by a holy people; Christians have been made holy by the works of Jesus. If you’re a Christian you’re commanded to walk in that holy life you’ve been called to, relying on the Holy Spirit rather than you’re own strength. So do it to it – Amen!

This quote was encouraging when I saw it the other day. On October 7, 1930 missionary linguist Frank C. Laubach wrote this in a letter:

Beside Jesus, the whole lot of us are so contemptible…But God is like Jesus, and like Jesus, He will not give up until we, too, are like Jesus.

Praise God!

Z: Zeal With or Without Knowledge

Well, after 25 days we have arrived at the final letter in our holiness alphabet-ology exercise. Z is a great letter to end on because we can talk about a glorious subject – zeal. As the title suggests, zeal comes in two sizes – with or without knowledge. I want to approach this in a different way than I’ve heard before.

In Galatians 1:13-14 Paul says, “For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” This is Paul’s own words confessing that he was a very zealous man. But, his zeal was directed toward his Jewish traditions rather than the God who stood behind his traditions. This is zeal without knowledge. This has no power and leads many people to be “religious.”

Philippians 3 reveals more about Paul’s change in zeal from without knowledge to with knowledge. Phil. 3:4-6 says, “If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” You see what he said? He identified himself as an extremely zealous Pharisee. What happened to change him? Phil. 3:7 says God happened! “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” You see, Paul used to be zealous about religion, now he is zealous to treasure a Person above religion!

Paul’s treasuring Jesus above religious laws and habit is holy zeal, and I want you all to be like this. I think most of you would agree with this. But how many of you think that one has to fit into some kind of box in order to be a Christian? ”I don’t” you say. Really? I do. Too many of us think one must be a conservative, good-looking, respectable, morally flawless, monetarily sufficient, un-tattoo’d, clean person in order to be a Christian. This is non-sense! This box is un-Biblical. Can anyone in a third-world nation fit into this box? Could a liberal democrat fit into this box? NO! If you find yourself zealous about outward things like this, I want to challenge you and say you’re being zealous about religious things rather than being zealous about Jesus. Holy zeal is only zealous about Jesus, and yes that does make some boxes, but rather than outward things defining these boxes, inward things define it. Christians must be zealous about getting to know God, repentance, prayer, Bible study, church involvement, preaching the gospel as it stands forth from the Bible, etc.

Bottom line? Zeal without knowledge cares about outward things while zeal with knowledge cares about knowing God and following Him as close as you possibly can.