The Holiness of God.

The Holiness of God.

As we will be studying what God’s word has to say about His holiness, I thought I would quote some of what our elders have said on the topic of holiness in this brief preface to our study. We can learn from their wise counsel. Also, We would be remiss to do a study of holiness without first acknowledging the source. The holiness of God is not merely, or solely, an attribute of His among many others. To quote Charles Hodge, “The holiness of God is not to be conceived of as one attribute among others. It is rather a general term representing the conception of God’s consummate perfection and total glory. It is His infinite moral perfection crowning His infinite intelligence and power.” There is no other quality of God that the seraphim angels praise three times, time and again in eternity. [Isa 6:3 NASB] “And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” To know God, we must know He is holy, and we are not. “Only one attribute of God, in sacred Scripture is emphasized three times. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy, that the whole earth is full of His glory.” R.C. Sproul.

God, Being distinct, other than, separate, set apart, in moral perfection, transcendent in His holiness, cannot be fathomed by man. This holiness also manifests as majesty. The chasm that separates us from Him due to our sin is so great, only the cross can bear us from one sin to glory. R.C. Sproul wrote, “The most violent expression of God’s wrath and justice is seen in the Cross. If ever a person had room to complain for injustice, it was Jesus. He was the only innocent man ever to be punished by God. If we stagger at the wrath of God, let us stagger at the Cross. Here is where our astonishment should be focused.” The only way to please the holy God, is for Him to provide what is pleasing. In Christ, He has provided righteousness for our justification. In Christ, we are separated from sin, and set apart for His use. We are consecrated to and for the glory of God. Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Never did God so manifest His hatred of sin as in the death and suffering of His only begotten Son. Hereby He showed Himself unappeasable to sin, and that it was impossible for Him to be at peace with it.”

Our problem is that we are not holy. Here is a quote from R.C. Sproul, “Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgement is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.” It is evident that we must come to the knowledge of what holiness is by contrasting our dire lack of it with its perfection in God’s being.

A.W. Tozer had this to say, “We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of. God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire God’s wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine.” This is the transcendent holiness of the Creator. It is on display for us, in the natural creation, in His word, and personally in His Son.

“Without such a vision of God’s holiness, true worship is not possible. Worship is not giddy. It does not rush into God’s presence unprepared and insensitive to His majesty. It is not shallow, superficial, or flippant. Worship is life lived in the presence of an infinitely righteous and omnipresent God by one utterly aware of His holiness and consequently overwhelmed with his own unholiness… If you have never worshiped God with a broken and contrite spirit, you’ve never fully worshiped God, because that is the only appropriate response to entering the presence of Holy God.” John MacArthur.

“God’s holiness means He is separate from sin. But holiness in God also means wholeness. God’s holiness is His “God-ness.” It is His being God in all that it means for Him to be God. To meet God in His holiness, therefore, is to be altogether overwhelmed by the discovery that He is God, and not man.” Sinclair Ferguson.

“If every attribute of the Deity were a distinct member, holiness would be the soul to animate them. Without holiness His patience would be an indulgence to sin, His mercy a fondness, His wrath a madness, His power a tyranny, His wisdom an unworthy subtlety. Holiness gives decorum to them all.” Puritan, Stephen Charnock.

Near Death Experiences

Near Death Experiences

1) Do people really see things prior to death (NDE’s)? Yes and no.

Many of the people claiming to have near death experiences are like the people who claim to see Bigfoot or a spaceship. Many of them are just faking it for attention. Some of them are not faking it though. For the ones that are not faking it we can rule out what they are seeing as the effects of the dieing brain. Brain chemistry and electrical activity causes strange subconscious imaginings. Some people do experience spiritual visions near death. It is important to note that they are not dead as science would define death. If a person is clinically dead and then comes back to life with a miraculous story it doesn’t mean that it is from God. The Bible says, “…Hebrews 9:27 NASB And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,..” People truly die once as a rule. Pro-NDE people will ask, “What about when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead?” “…John 11:11-15 NASB This He said, and after that He *said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.”(12) The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” (13) Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. (14) So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,(15)and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.”..” So again as a rule people die once and then the judgment. So barring a miracle of Jesus when a person is truly dead they stay dead. Just because they have stopped breathing, pumping blood, and brain activity seems to have ceased doesn’t mean they are truly dead. Medical science says they are dead, but how many times have we heard of somebody waking up in the morgue or in a coffin? You are dead when God says you are dead. So people near death can have physiologically explainable visions.

2) Do some see angels while others see demons? Yes and no.

The Bible says nothing about NDE’s specifically. Some people abuse scripture and try to make Paul’s vision of the 3rd Heaven a NDE when it is obviously not. They are just so desperate to believe in NDE’s that they will pervert scripture to make it so. People can also experience demonic/satanic visions given to them to lead them astray and to misguide others. Anything a person claims about a NDE MUST NOT conflict with the Bible. If it does, it is from a lying spirit and should be discarded immediately as untrue. The person relaying the story must not be followed or believed.

3) Can this be scriptural? Yes and no.

The answer to this question depends heavily on context and claim. If the context is a vision or dream from God that someone experienced it must be accurate and consistent with the rest of the Bible. I don’t believe these types of things are happening right now in our time. Again, the Bible says nothing about NDE’s specifically. In the end times they are supposed to start back up. These are not NDE’s though. There is a big difference between an NDE and a prophetic dream or vision. You don’t have to be in a coma or nearly dead for a prophetic dream or vision. If God wants you to know something you are going to know it. Fortunately for us He reveals His will and word for us in the Bible and we don’t need to rely on dreams, and visions. Matter of fact the Bible is the primary way we hear from God.

To sum up I would say treat all NDE claims as nothing of consequence unless it meets the requirements of scripture. Here are some links to some very good articles from trusted ministries on the topic.

1. http://www.gty.org/blog/B121018

2. http://www.gotquestions.org/near-death-experiences.html

3. http://www.christianbook.com/heaven-randy-alcorn/9780842379427/pd/79422?event=AFF&p=1011693&

4. http://www.equip.org/articles/from-heaven-to-earth-with-a-story-that-sells/

Salvation, Mercy, and Wrath.

Salvation, Mercy, and Wrath.

If God saves us while we are yet sinners, it is because of his mercy.(Romans 5:8)  Being sinners what could we do to merit favor with God, as if He were one to be compelled?  We must also inquire as to what it is that we need saving from.

The punishment is what we say we fear, and rightly so.  It comes from the almighty.   We fear His just punishment, because His law was written on our hearts.  We know that we are sinners.  We only need to understand how dire our case is.  This can only be accomplished through the exposition of our own personal sins.

What is a sinner?  Is it a person that murders?  Is it a liar?  Is it a policeman?  Is it an E.R. Doctor?  Could it be me, or even you?  The easy answer is that a sinner is someone that sins.  Some would try to justify their works-righteousness religion by making a false distinction. They might tell you that a sinner is one that lives a lifestyle of sin.  After all, everyone has sinned, but surely some of us are good?  To them I say, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 )  “There is none who does good, there is not even one.” (Romans 3:12)  I would ask them, “How many people do I have to kill before I am a murderer?”  If I rip a purse from a woman’s shoulder and run what does she yell?  “Stop thief!”   One time is all it takes. One lie makes a liar.  One lustful thought makes an adulterer.

God judges not just what we do, but the thoughts of our inner most being.(1 Samuel 16:7)  The thoughts bring forth the deeds.  Dwelling on the sinful temptation enacts a powerful compulsion of the natural man to sin.  So a sinner in thought is a sinner in deed.

Ah!  But they protest, “There is a difference between thinking and doing!”  I agree, but a little evil is only small when a human compares it to another humans righteousness. Oh!  How it contrasts when compared to perfection. When seen against the flawless, holiness of God that small sin of your heart becomes an overwhelming witness against you on judgement day.  Evidence of the sinners state of guilt.  Condemning them to be punished for all eternity to satisfy the justice of a perfect, holy, and righteous God.

We rightly deserve to be killed, and to spend eternity in Hell as punishment.  Once you realize the unattainable righteousness  your sins are compared to, and the authority of the one whose laws you have transgressed you will grasp why it is good and just for you to be punished.  Until then God will seem harsh, and punitive.  Unless by His mercy He grants you grace you will never understand His; love, how unacceptable you are in sin, or what He saves you from.

So a sinner is every man, woman, and child ever born.  Before them was Adam.  The first man.  The man through whom sin entered the world.  So we are all in need of saving.  Who can work such an amazing grace?  God alone!  Not any works of man.(Ephesians 2:8)  No merit of our own.  Jesus on the cross! His blood shed for wretches, fallen, and without any righteousness to save them. This so they must rely on His righteousness imputed to their account so they can be saved!