The Holiness of God

Turn on the television, read a newspaper, listen to the radio and it soon becomes clear that we live in an unholy world.  Even the great “heroes” eventually fail.  Only God is holy.  The holiness of God is both terrifying and comforting.   A.W. Tozer wrote a short chapter on the holiness of God in his book The Knowledge of the Holy which reveals both the terror and comfort that we unholy people encounter when we even catch a glimpse of His holiness.

God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary tot he health of His universe.  Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this.  Whatever is holy is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that must end ultimately in death…

The holiness of God, the wrath of God, and the health of the creation are inseparably united.  God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys…

This holiness God can and does impart to His children.  He shares it with them by imputation and by impartation, and because He has made it available to them through the blood of the Lamb, he requires it of them…

We must hid our unholiness in the wounds of Christ as Moses hid himself in the cleft of the rock while the glory of God passed by.  We must take refuge from God in God.  Above all we must believe that God sees us perfect in His Son while he disciplines and chastens and purges us that we may be partakers of His holiness (pp. 166-167).

“We must take refuge from God in God”.  God cannot tolerate any unholiness and the only perfectly holy place is in the perfectly holy person of God.  By accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have not only been washed clean by His blood, but we have also been placed “in Christ” (e.g. Romans 8:1; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:20; Philippians 3:9).  We are now in God.  We are surround by and imparted with the holiness of God.  On the one hand, now perfect in His Son, on the other hand still becoming that perfectness through His sanctifying work (Hebrews 10:14).

The realization of the raw power and wrath of God’s holiness towards whatever is unholy is terrifying.  Being in Christ is knowing that our standing within Him is secure is comforting.  Knowing that He is working His holiness through us is terrifying.  Knowing that the sanctification process is changing us more and more into His likeness is comforting.

Tozer on God’s Great Grace

“No one was ever saved other than by grace…Since mankind was banished from the eastward Garden, none has ever returned to the divine favor except through the sheer goodness of God.  And wherever grace found any man it was always by Jesus Christ.  Grace indeed came by Jesus Christ [John 1:17], but it did not wait for his birth in the manger or His death on the cross before it became operative.  Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world [Revelation 13:8].  The first man in human history to be reinstated in the fellowship of God came through faith in Christ.  In olden times men looked forward to Christ’s redeeming work; in later times they gaze back upon it [Hebrews 11:1-12:2], but always they came and they come by grace through faith [Ephesians 2:8].

We must keep in mind also that the grace of God is infinite and eternal.  As it had no beginning, so it can have no end, and being an attribute of God, it is as boundless as infinite.

Instead of straining to comprehend this as a theological truth, it would be better and simpler to compare God’s grace with our need.  We can never know the enormity of our sin, neither is it necessary that we should. What we can know is that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” [Romans 5:20].

To “abound” in sin: that is the worst and the most we could or can do.  The word abound defines the limit of our finite abilities; and although we feel our iniquities rise over us like a mountain, the mountain, nevertheless, has definable boundaries: it is so large, so high, it weighs only this certain amount and no more. But who shall define the limitless grace of God?  Its “much more” plunges our thoughts into infinitude and confounds them there.  All thanks be to God for grace abounding.

We who feel ourselves alienated from the fellowship of God can now raise our discouraged heads and look up.  Through the virtues of Christ’s atoning death the cause of our banishment has been removed.  We may return as the Prodigal returned, and be welcome [Luke 15:11-32].

A.W. Tozer (The Knowledge of the Holy, pp. 148-150)

Return, O wanderer, now return,
And seek thy Father’s face;
Those new desires which in thee burn
Were kindled by His grace.

Return, O wanderer, now return,
And wipe the falling tear:
Thy Father calls, – no longer mourn;
‘Tis love invites thee near.
-William Benco Collyer

Reading Great Books

Some books are difficult to read because of the use of archaic language.  Some because of difficult prose.  Others due to poor writing skills.  While other books tackle thick topics that require the reader to linger and reread reach paragraph multiple times.  But what if some books are difficult to read because of the condition of the reader’s heart?

When reading the Bible, the condition of the heart is a critical component.  But what about some of those great Christian classics?  Those books that time has demonstrated to be valuable to Christianity at large and void of heretical teachings that pop up in every generation.  They are not the Bible, nor do they pretend to hold the authority of Scripture, but they contain valuable insights into the Person and work of Christ and the Christian life.  Realizing that there are gems within these books requires the reader to maintain a heart open to hearing the Lord speak through the author and into their life.  One classic author, A.W. Tozer, wrote about the topic in a series called “The Use and Abuse of Books”:

Why does today’s Christian find the reading of great books always beyond him?  Certainly intellectual powers do not wane from one generation to another.  We are as smart as our father, and any thought they could entertain we can entertain if we are sufficiently interested to make the effort…To enjoy a great religious book requires a degree of consecration to God and detachment from the world that few modern Christians have.  The early Christian Fathers, the Mystics, the Puritans, are not hard to understand, but they inhabit the highlands where the air is crisp and rarefied, and none but the God-enamored can come…One reason why people are unable to understand great Christian classics is that they are trying to understand without any intention of obeying them.
(Spiritual Leadership, pp102-103)

Self-Sufficiency of God

Were all human being suddenly to become blind, still the sun would shine by day and the stars by night, for these owe nothing to the millions who benefit from their light.  So, were every man on earth to become atheist, it could not affect God in any way.  He is what He is in Himself without regard to any other.  To believe in Him adds nothing to His perfections; to doubt Him takes nothing away (The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer; pp 53-54).

To be right we must think worthily of God. It is morally imperative that we purge from our minds all ignoble concepts of the Deity and let Him be the God in our minds that He is in His universe.  The Christian religion has to do with God and man, but its focal point is God, not man. Man’s only claim to importance is that he was created in the divine image; in himself he is nothing. The psalmists and prophets of the Scriptures refer in sad scorn to weak man whose breath is in his nostrils, who grows up like the grass in the morning only to be cut down and wither before the setting of the sun. That God exists for Himself and man for the glory of God is the emphatic teaching of the Bible.  The high honor of God is first in heaven as it must yet be in earth (pp 55-56).

In the meanwhile our inner fulfillment lies in loving obedience to the commandments of Christ and the inspired admonitions of His apostles. “It is God which worketh in you” [Philippians 2:13]. He needs no one, but when faith is present He works through anyone. two statements are in this sentence and a healthy spiritual life requires that we accept both (p 58).

Football and Church

What do football and the church have in common?  Teamwork.  Leadership.  Planning.  Endurance. Discipline. Excitement. And much more.

The theologian A.W. Tozer pointed out another interesting similarity to make a keen point about the need for salvation, the receiving of the eternal life offered through belief in Jesus Christ as Savior:

One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organizations do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.

The Son as The Sun

“[Christ] is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His Person, and that He upholds all things by the word of His power [Hebrews 1:2-3].  In this utter dependence of all things upon the creative will of God lies the possibility for both holiness in sin. One of the marks of God’s image in man is his ability to exercise moral choice…man chose to be independent of God and confirmed by his choice by deliberately disobeying a divine command. This act violated the relationship that normally existed between God and His creature; it rejected God as the ground of existence and threw man back upon himself. Thereafter he became not a planet revolving around the central Sun, but a sun in his own right, around which everything else must resolve…

In all else he, [the natural man], may willingly accept the sovereignty of God; in his own life he rejects it. For him, God’s dominion ends where his begins…Yet so subtle is self that scarcely anyone is conscious of its presence. Because man is born a rebel, he is unaware that his is one. His constant assertion of self, as far as he things of it at all, appears to him a perfectly normal thing. he is willing to share himself, sometimes even to sacrifice himself for a desired end, but never to dethrone himself. No matter how far down the scale of social acceptance he may slide, he is still in his own eyes a king on a throne, and no one, not even God, can take that throne from him…

To save us completely Christ must reverse the bent of our nature; He must plant a new principle within us so that our subsequent conduct will spring out of a desire to promote the honor of God and the good of our fellow men. The old self-sins must die, and the only instrument by which they can be slain is the cross. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” said our Lord [Matthew 16:24]; and years later the victorious Paul could say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” [Galatians 2:20].”

-A.W.  Tozer (The Knowledge of the Holy; pp45-46; 48-49)

Upcoming Reads

I like reading.  I like reading good books by good authors.  There are three books that are at the top of my list that I am reading at the same time and appear to be great books:

1) The Momentum of Togetherness: Why the Church is the Best Thing Ever for the Christian Life by John Myer
This new e-book is based upon a sermon series by John Myer, pastor of Grandview Christian Assembly.  It is the first of several books in the “Big Ideas – Little Books” series.   The book looks to be a great read as its description is: “Is the church just an accessory item to the Christian life? Many have begun to feel this way as they pursue a course of isolated spiritual growth. Momentum gives good reasons for settling down with other believers, putting a stop to wandering from one congregation to another, and being about the business of serious Christian development.”

2) The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
This is a Christian classic that examines the attributes of God and how they apply to the Christian life.  Written by a well respected theologian, this book promises to bring in a reverence and praise to God for who He is and how He reveals and makes Himself available to us.

3) Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission by Darrin Patrick
The latest book from ReLit, this short book takes a look at church planting by examining the need for a proper church planter.  A real man of God. A man of God with the right message and who is on mission.  The concepts and principles laid out in the book look like something every Christian leader and lay person could learn from, whether or not they are involved in a church plant.