The Holiness of God

Professor R.A. Finlayson

The Campbell Morgan Memorial Bible Lectureship, No. 7
Wednesday 22[nd] June 1955
Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate, London, S.W.1
[Reproduced by permission]

Back
"Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness"
(Psalm xcvii. 12)

[p.3]

I. THE REVELATION OF HOLINESS

"There is not in Scripture a word more distinctly Divine in its origin and meaning than the word holy. There is not a word that leads us higher into the mystery of Deity, nor deeper into the privilege and blessedness of God's children". These are the words with which Andrew Murray prefaced his valuable little book, "HOLY IN CHRIST", to which the pages that follow bear indebtedness at more than one point.


DEFINITION

Notwithstanding the fact that we owe the word and the concept so distinctly to revelation, it is a conception of God that is very difficult to define. In the words of John Morley it is "the deepest of all the words that defy definition".[1] We are not helped by the fact that there is a wide divergence of view among theologians as to its precise meaning. The etymology of the Hebrew word qadosh is uncertain. It may come from a Hebrew root "to shine", or from an Arabic root "to cut or separate". While in either case the general connotation is clear, there is considerable difference of opinion as to its precise meaning in relation to God.

To many writers, arguing from the supposed root of the word in the Arabic "to separate", holiness is identified with God's separateness from the Creation and His elevation above it. It is that which gives God His transcendence, for Me only is holy. This incomparable glory is exclusive to God. This is, doubtlessly, a common Old Testament use of the term. Jehovah as the Holy One stands out in contrast to all false gods: "Who is like Thee among the gods? Who is like Thee glorious in holiness?" was the adoring exclamation of Moses. (Exodus xv. ii). So also in opposition to all that is created, God is holy, as when He says through Isaiah: "To whom will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One" (Isaiah xl. 25). Thus God's transcendence over all creation, and over all that is not God, is connected with His holiness.

Many, however, regard holiness as the expression of relationship. Of Goodness Ernest Neville says that it "is not an entity - a thing. It is a law determining the relation between things; relations", he adds, "which have to be realized by free-wills."[2] Thus holiness in God is His fixed determination to maintain intact the relationship or the

[p.4]

order which ought to reign among all beings that exist and to preserve intact His own position relative to free beings. This, too, finds support from Old Testament usage. Initially what was set apart for God's service was regarded as holy, and so the fact of belonging to God constituted a person or a thing holy. It was relationship to God that constituted Israel a holy people. It was, in the highest sense, expressive of the Covenant relationship. But that very fact itself presupposed the holiness of God. Not only was God holy in that He claimed the exclusive ownership of the entire nation, but Israel was holy to Jehovah as His covenanting people. But this scarcely gives holiness an ethical content. Its meaning as God-devoted does not touch the inner significance of the word.

For this reason, holiness is regarded by many as a moral attribute of God, having the sense, positively, of purity, and, negatively, of complete freedom from sin. It is thus a general term for the moral excellence of God, and His freedom from all moral limitations in His moral perfection, or as Habakkuk called Him: "of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look upon sin" (Habakkuk i. 13) - a declaration expressive of the moral sensitiveness of God, shrinking from all evil and sin. Though this view is a definite advance in our understanding of holiness, it is, nevertheless, more negative than positive.

Part of the difficulty in definition lies in the difficulty of defining perfection. If it be replied that anything is perfect when it is in all respects as it ought to be, then it merely poses the question: What ought God to be?

Godet tells us that "holiness is that attribute in virtue of which Jehovah makes Himself the absolute standard of Himself", In this respect holiness is God's self-affirmation. It decides the law of His existence, inflexible and inviolate. The self-existing I AM is thus equated with holiness.

Bengel, however, brings us further along the road of definition when he asserts that holiness is "the whole complex of that which we are wont to look at and represent singly in the individual attributes of God". Thus Bengel looked upon holiness as the Divine nature in which all the attributes are contained, and other writers agree with him by calling it "an attribute of attributes". Thus the old Scottish writer, John Howe, says: "It is a transcendental attribute that runs through the rest and casts a glory upon every one of them"; and again, "it is an attribute of attributes and so it is the very lustre and glory of His other perfections".[3] Jonathan Edwards, in typical strain, puts

[p.5]

it thus: "The holiness of His nature is the cause and reason of holy determination... the foundation of all His will, purpose and decrees". He calls it "the beauty of God's moral attributes", and asserts that '(no other attribute is truly lovely without this, and no otherwise than it derives its loveliness from this".[4]

This will suffice to indicate the difficulty encountered by the best minds of the church in attempting to define the holiness of God. Our survey has led us to the place where we must define holiness as more than a mere attribute of God, and accept it as the sum of all His attributes, the outshining of all that God is. It means that as the sun's rays, containing all the colours of the spectrum, come together in the sun's shining and blend into light, so all the attributes of God come together in His self-manifestation and blend into holiness. This is, over all, the Biblical presentation of God. To conceive of His being and character as merely a synthesis of abstract perfections is to deprive God of all reality. In the God of the Bible these perfections live: they function, operate, burn, in holiness! Our God is a consuming fire!

If we regard holiness, thus, as the comprehensive expression of all the Divine perfection, we will understand why His holiness and His glory are so frequently associated in Scripture, as the One who is "glorious in holiness, fearful in praises", and as the One who "swears" by His holiness, as though it were the fullest expression of Himself. It is not surprising, therefore, that holiness is expressly attributed in Scripture to each Person in the Trinity, not only to the Father, but also to the Son and the Spirit, as the highest expression of divinity, as claiming for them the excellence of the Divine nature.


HOLINESS REVEALED

Holiness, as the very essence of God's being, is entirely a matter of revelation. It is, in a pre-eminent degree, God's self-disclosure, and we could not have attained to this knowledge of God if He had not specially revealed Himself. The Divine holiness is God's self-revelation, the testimony that He bears to Himself, the aspect under which He wills His creatures to know Him. This seems implied in the very etymology of the word, if we accept its Hebrew source, for it implies "breaking forth in shining," as the breaking forth of brilliant light, thus explaining how the Holy One of Israel was also referred to as "the Light of Israel" (Isaiah x. 17). Thus the Divine holiness contains not only the Divine self-preservation, but also the Divine self-disclosure. God must specially reveal Himself to us if we are to

[p.6]

understand what holiness is. This is not necessarily true of the "natural" attributes of God. Every attribute of God has its reflection in the man He made in His own image, and so it is possible to rise from the creature to the Creator. His wisdom, power, justice, mercy, love, are all reflected in the moral and rational constitution of man's nature, and all find a place in the religious and philosophic contemplation of God outside the Hebrew-Christian tradition. But perfect holiness is inconceivable to us: it has to be revealed. The Bible, in its entirety, is the revelation of a holy God.


HOLINESS COMMUNICABLE

Inherent in the self-revelation of a holy God there is the glorious fact that His holiness is communicable. The idea of holiness combines the two conditions of separateness and communion. While it is true that God is the Alone Holy and that His holiness is the ground of His separateness from the universe, constituting Him a light that is in-approachable, yet His holiness must not be conceived of as mere exclusiveness. The creatures nearest to God cry: "Holy, Holy, Holy", both in adoring contemplation and in blessed participation. The Thrice Holy One, in virtue of His very nature is a Holy Fellowship, or a Fellowship of Holiness. A Tri-personal God in His essential life is a God in relationship, a God in self-revelation and self-communication. While this must be essentially and eternally true of interrelations within the Blessed Trinity, it has pleased God in His personal relations with His creatures to communicate His holiness. "I am holy" is the Divine self-assertion, lifting Him immeasurably above His creation; "be ye also holy" is the Divine self-communication that brings His creatures into His communion to become - to use the Biblical expression - "partakers of His holiness" (Hebrews xii. 10). It is this imparting of His holiness alone that makes His creatures holy. The character of holiness never rests on a natural quality. Nothing created is itself holy. The holiness of the creature goes back to an act of the Divine will, the Divine election, and the Divine calling. It is a state in which the creature is bound to God by the appointment of God Himself.


HOLINESS REDEMPTIVE

In the Bible the holiness of God is revealed in a redemptive context. The holiness of God is redemption. The designation of God as the Holy One appears first in the Old Testament at the redemption of Israel and the founding of the theocracy. It is indeed significant that

[p.7]

the first mention we have in the Old Testament of a person being sanctified by God is in Exodus xiii. 2, where we have the Divine injunction: "Sanctify unto Me all the first-born". The reason for this demand is given in Numbers iii. 13, where God makes the claim: "All the first-born are Mine, for in the day I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, I sanctified unto Me all the first-born in Israel". This very definitely associates holiness with redemption and it links us up with the revelation given in the later Prophets, where redemption is ever associated with the holiness of God. In Isaiah God's Name as the Holy One occurs some 26 times, and it is constantly linked with His Name as Redeemer. Thus we have omnipotence directed to a redemptive and holy end. In other words, holiness ensures that power is constructive and redemptive, and not employed, as in the human sphere, merely to suppress and destroy.


II. THE REDEMPTIVE OPERATION OF HOLINESS

This leads us to a study of the redemptive operation of holiness in Jesus Christ. Holiness defines the Divine self-assertion; it also characterizes the Divine self-exertion.

We have defined holiness as the perfection of God's moral excellence, and we must expect its outward manifestation to vary as it operates upon different objects in different relations. Here and now, we are to consider the holiness of God in its supreme manifestation - in His opposition to sin manifesting itself in Incarnation, Atonement, and Redemption. In Jesus Christ we have the purity of God meeting with sin in redemption.

Sin was the supreme challenge to the holiness of God and to the Divine order in the universe. The problem of reconciling God's fore-ordination of Sin with His holiness has occupied the minds of the ages, and will never be fully resolved in this life. We must agree with A. A. Hodge that "if the cause which produced the universe did not foresee the sin which the present system embraces, then the cause was a blind, unintelligent force, and not God".[5] If he did foresee it and, notwithstanding, proceeded to bring that system into existence, then He fore-ordained it. He, nevertheless, is holy and He hates, forbids, and punishes sin. In the light of God's holiness we do not find the mystery less a mystery, but in presence of the Cross of His Son we have His character vindicated, and His holy purposes in relation to sin unveiled.

Because God is holy, He cannot be indifferent to sin. He cannot

[p.8]

pass it by by the mere exercise of His clemency. And because God is holy He cannot be appeased by the sinner's own effort. In all other religions salvation is sought by self-effort, because God is not conceived of as absolutely holy. There are but two religions in the world: salvation by grace and salvation by works. Salvation by works is based on too low a view of the holiness of God. There is so much aesthetic religion which is nothing else than bringing man's artistically conceived religion to God in an attempt to know and please Him. True religion consists in the sinner coming into the presence of God that he may get Divine religion. The one makes religion his god, the other makes God his religion.

The God who reveals Himself in the Bible takes sin so seriously that no effort of human hands can erase its guilt, no human merit can cover its stain. A holy God must deal with it. And it is only in the Biblical conception of God's holiness and of man's sin that there arose the need for an atonement. In the classical passage in Romans iii. 20-24, Paul produces two reasons why God must give a display of the Divine righteousness and holiness. The one is retrospective: "To declare his righteousness for sins that are past"; and the other with the immediate intention of "declaring at this time his righteousness that he might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus". The forbearance of God towards gross and universal sin in the pre-Christian era presented a moral problem of the first order, and, according to Paul, the Cross had to come to put God right with Himself and with the moral universe. In the death of Christ He was displaying His unchanging attitude to sin, His unalterable reiation to moral evil.

From the Godward side, therefore, atonement was a necessity if God was to be vindicated as holy before His moral universe, and His purpose of salvation towards His sinful creatures fulfilled, Christ has fully satisfied this two-fold condition, because in Him we have a manifestation of the holiness which God demands, and of the holiness which God provides.

The holiness which God demands became visible in Christ's life and character, who was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners". In Jesus Christ the holiness of God appeared in human life, in a human character, and it was this perfect holiness that, in the highest degree, constituted the supernatural in the life of Christ. The supernatural at its highest, as Godet points out,[6] is not the miraculous as commonly understood, it is the holy. In the miraculous, as

[p.9]

Godet insists, we see omnipotence breaking forth to act upon the material world in the interest of the moral order; but holiness is morality itself in its sublimest manifestation. In Christ we have the holiness of the invisible God translated into the forms of human life, and human character and conduct, and, in His Manhood, tested and proved and manifested. In Him, therefore, the Divine holiness is embodied and brought nigh to men. That is the holiness that God demands from all His moral creatures, and nothing less than this will pass with a holy God.

But in Christ's redemptive work we have a manifestation also of the holiness which God provides. Here we have a vindication of God's right to impute and to impart holiness to those who, in state and condition, are not holy. In the atoning work of Jesus Christ we have an act of God, removing all that would hinder our participation in His holiness. The Bible presents the total situation in these words: "For He made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians v. 21). There we have imputation and counter-imputation, the reversal of states by which the Holy One was identified with sin that the sinner might be identified with His righteousness, and become partaker of His holiness.

Thus in Jesus Christ we have holiness manifested and holiness vindicated, inasmuch as He who performed this priestly act on our behalf had upon His brow, as had Aaron of old, the flaming inscription: "Holiness unto the Lord".


HOLINESS AND LOVE

The Cross has this significance that it reconciles holiness and love. It has been common to regard love as the fundamental feature of the Divine character. A modern theologian[7] has been complaining that in much modern religion Divine holiness is subordinated to Divine love, with the effect of distorting both holiness and love. Thus Divine holiness is compromised and Divine love is transmuted into sheer sentimentality. Without the Cross love and holiness are often regarded as rival qualities, negating or cancelling each other, either holiness overruling love, or love obscuring holiness. But in the Cross of Christ the Divine love and the Divine holiness come into relations with mankind that are altogether unique. This is what Godet has in mind when he says: "The necessity of the expiatory sacrifice arises from His holy character, in other words, from His holiness, the principle at once of His love and righteousness, and not of His right-

[p.10]

eousness exclusively".[8] It must be so, since it is in the Divine holiness that love and righteousness meet in perfect harmony.


HOLINESS AND CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE

All this falls naturally and harmoniously into place in the experience of the redeemed sinner, to whom his God manifests Himself in holy love. Election unto life, repentance, sanctification, and full redemption all find their true setting in the holiness of God. These are the forms in which holiness appears in the sphere of Christian experience, and every one of them is in Scripture associated specifically with the holiness of God. The Decrees of God, for example, must be based on what God is, and not be presented as abstract hypotheses. They are manifestations of God's essential being, the natural and necessary consequence of what God is as a holy God. God, the Holy One of Israel, gave effect to His holiness of old in electing a people out of the nations, accepting them as His own, and giving them His Holy Law. "I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people that ye should be mine" (Leviticus xx. 26). This is the ground of His election. Though God passed judgment in holy rectitude upon all sin, He made an election unto holiness, an election whose source is the holy love of God, and whose goal is the creation of holy character.

Penitence is also placed by Scripture in the context of the Divine holiness. The great implication of holiness in the personal life is sin-consciousness, and where there is little sin-consciousness there is little conception of the holiness of God. The holiness of God becomes significant to us only when it reveals our own sinfulness in relation to God. Sin is a wilful act of trespass on a holy God, and penitence results in self-loathing before God and a desire, not to escape from the holiness of God, but to accept it, to open up the life to its scrutiny, and receive its just judgment. Thus comes the repentance that leads, not to despair and death, but to hope and life. If God is holy, there is still hope that the sinner may be holy; if a holy God is dealing with our sin we shall be holy.

In like manner the holiness of God hears intimately on our Sanctification. It makes its impact upon our wills and its demands upon our conduct. As sin affected the entire man, leading to depravity that reached him in the totality of his parts, so holiness affects the entire man, giving light to his mind, sensitiveness to his conscience, purity to his heart, and power to his will.

And so, like a Psalmist of old, we thank God upon every remem-

[p.11]

brance of His holiness. It thought of man in a holy purpose, took hold of him in a holy love, redeemed him with a holy power. Love, omnipotence, mercy - a trinity to which the sinner must trace his redemption - all meet in the unity of God's holiness.


III. HOLINESS TRIUMPHANT

Holiness, as we have seen, is purely a matter of revelation. God made this self-disclosure to man in the line of special revelation in the Scriptures. The difficulty of how to reconcile this revelation of holiness with the Divine administration in relation to sin, received its answer in the Cross of Christ. There holiness is not only vindicated but made available to men. The problem of how God could hate and condemn the sin and yet love and save the sinner has found its solution in the death of Jesus Christ His Son.

If we look at the goal to which the holiness of God is moving, the goal to which the moral universe and every creature in it is moving, then we shall see holiness triumphant and the grand and glorious purpose of God's holiness fully and finally fulfilled.

We have already indicated that God's holiness decides and declares the end for which He creates and conducts the universe. The end is to produce holiness, His moral administration shall, therefore, create conditions in which holiness is supreme. God's holiness is thus of significance to the whole universe: it is, indeed, that which gives significance to the entire universe. Much of the universe in its boundless extent is beyond our ken, but this one significance must pervade it all, that it is directed to a moral end. Holiness ensures that. This must mean, however, that conditions are now operating by which the whole of the moral universe shall be purged from sin. Sin is the antithesis of the moral goodness for which God created the universe, and sin, if permitted to go unrestrained, would defeat God's purpose. As long as sin remains there must thus be uncompromising opposition in God as a holy Being to moral evil in the wills and characters of His creatures.


HOLINESS AND JUDGMENT

Since God is a holy God we must believe that His administration is directed to create conditions in which holiness is supreme. All moral beings have, therefore, to do with the holiness of God: to them it is as central and vital as is the sun to the planets; it is the shining glory of God! To good beings, the holiness of God is that on which they rest, the anchor of their security, the source of their blessedness, and

[p.12]

the theme of their adoration and praise. To evil beings, the holiness of God is the most serious and fearsome of all realities, because it measures the evil unerringly, it condemns it, and asks for its doom.

Holiness, therefore, brings all life, here and hereafter, under the moral judgment of God. While there is judgment going on continuously in the world as a process for testing and vindicating or condemning human character, as there is also a providential judgment between sin and righteousness in the present affairs of mankind, so also there is a judgment to come relating to the destinies that follow this life.

This judgment the Scriptures bid us all expect. We are not our own masters in going out of this world and our going has its just and holy purpose. Our place and lot in the world that is beyond will be determined righteously. God's holiness ensures that He is guided in all actions toward His creatures by the righteousness that is the essence of His own being and character. He will wrong no one. He judges all in perfect fairness. Me insists on all that ought to be insisted on and on nothing more. God is not vindictive: He is holy and just, and will do only what is right for God to do.

For that reason Divine judgment is ever based on character. Since holiness is the regulating principle of judgment, it must be moral character that comes under review. It is, therefore, not surprising that the only judgment the Scriptures portray is a judgment according to character: it is a decision founded upon an estimate of character discovered and proved by conduct.

And Christ, in His holy character, is the standard of judgment. This is not in any way different from saying that the standard is the Moral Law of God summarised in the Ten Commandments, which itself is but a transcript of the moral character of God. And Christ is the effulgence of His moral glory, the express image of His character. But the Moral Law given of old on Sinai found its perfect exemplification and application in the teaching of Jesus Christ and in the laws of His Kingdom. It is, therefore, correct to say that the Divine judgment upon man is to consist in the application of the principle and law of Christ's Kingdom as the test of our moral state. The law of His Kingdom is, thus, the final law for man. This is the arresting teaching of the great Parables of the Judgment uttered by our Lord. In each case, the conduct referred to is that which corresponds to the laws of the Kingdom. The pictorial details of the Last Judgment but express the holiness of God in dealing with human character. The Great White Throne but symbolizes the unsullied purity of God as the background against which human character is tested. The entire imagery

[p.13]

indicates that character is determined by conduct and destiny by character. This is fully in accord with the great pre-suppositions of our evangelical faith, that justification, regeneration, conversion, are all means to an end, the end being holiness of character and perfect conformity to the mind and will of God. Thus it is that what comes under the scrutiny of judgment at the last, is the finished product, the attainment of moral character.


HOLINESS AND RETRIBUTION

Since the Divine holiness could not make a universe in which sin would ultimately prosper, the retributive quality in the Divine government becomes perfectly intelligible. From a moral necessity in God, life is so ordered that in holiness is welfare, in sin is doom. If holiness is regarded as the self-preserving element in perfect love, then it follows that in order to secure the ends of righteousness it must exert a reaction of wrath in self-defence against all that would impair its purity.

This retributive character in life, here and hereafter, is understood when once the relation of perfect goodness to God and to man is understood. It is ever a serious matter to do with a God who is holy. It is a serious matter to live in a moral world, all the more serious when living is concentrated in a personal relation to a holy God. The final sentence on the false prophets as given from the mouth of our Lord is: "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity". This would seem to indicate that the experience of retribution is a continuous departing. It does not deprive the spirit of its true character as moral and responsible life. If men are still men they must be real moral agents even in Hell. A life of mere passive retribution, without present responsibility, would not be a human life. Therefore the good and the bad indicate drifts of moral life that continue endlessly. The man who enters the after-life morally separated from God and united to his sin will remain alienated from God and united to the sin which he has made his own. He moves on in a life of progressive sin, growing more and more like the moral evil he has chosen. He is in a life of action, even though the action tend downwards, since, for a moral creature, there appear to be no stagnation and no standing still. Is this not the solemn teaching of the declaration on which the Book of Revelation all but closes? "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still" (Revelation xxii. ii). This is not only being, it is becoming. It indicates, not only the per-

[p.14]

manence of moral character, good and bad, but also the development of moral character in the direction of its ruling principle. This is the life that the soul has chosen, the life for which it is fitted, the life in which it finds its natural expression. If it is the life of sin's punishment, it is but the working out of a reasonable moral necessity.

Retribution, therefore, is as certain as the holy being and character of God. Sin continues in hell, and so the punishment of sin continues. Life there is not merely passive, it is also active, even though its activity be the continuing disintegration of life and character.

The New Testament imagery of Hell offends the aesthetic tastes of to-day. Even were we to eliminate that imagery in all its graphic portrayal of active and passive deprivation, the holiness of God is still the fundamental reality to reckon with. The holiness of God is the greatest reality of hell, and it antagonises the soul that does not desire it and that struggles to escape it. It is a light which hurts and torments all who love darkness. The soul who is wedded to evil hates God because He is holy, and he is brought into eternal conflict with all that God is. And from that conflict man will never desire to escape: his will is fixed in eternal defiance of a holy God. Divine wrath and Divine love come together within their common centre - the holiness of God. This is the wrath of the Lamb!


HOLINESS AND RESTORATION

Scripture makes it clear that there will be a final restoration, a Palingenesis, a regeneration of the moral universe. God's holiness ensures that. The Divine holiness would not make a universe in which sin would triumph. Sin has challenged the sovereignty of God, and God's holiness is God's "No" to sinful man. This can be read in the broad pattern of history. Someone has described history as "a protracted civil war between man and God for the right of sovereignty". Even if this be one-sided, it must be recognized as true. Just as in a nation there can be but one government, so, too, in a universe there can be but one sovereign. God's holiness ensures that it shall be so: it ensures His eternal sovereignty in the moral universe.

There is, thus, every assurance that sin will be finally and completely overcome. But there is no indication that it will be so overcome that it will be annihilated. Sin is a moral quality inherent in the wills of moral creatures, and there is no hint that spiritual beings will be put out of conscious or even active existence. But there is the assurance that sin will eventually be confined to its own domain, and there placed under eternal restraint, so that it will never break through

[p.15]

again to disturb God's universe or ever again exert its disruptive power. And we have every assurance that redemption will go as deep as sin has gone, and that it will sweep the universe of God. Paul speaks of a reconciliation of all things to God whether in earth or in heaven. (Colossians i. 20). This suggests the reconciliation of the entire universe, as of a temple that has been desecrated by sin, to become eventually a temple in which God manifests His glory, to be worshipped and admired in all them that believe. Then holiness will permeate the entire universe, setting its stamp on small and great, as it is written: "And there shall be upon the bells of the horses 'Holiness unto the Lord" (Zech. xiv. 20).

Thus the holiness of God fills us with hope. It does not sadden the universe; rather does it constitute the glory of existence. Not only does it preserve intact the position of God in His universe as the Alone Holy, but it maintains intact the harmony of the universe and the order that brings all His creatures into the unity of a common realization of supreme blessedness. It means that God has in Himself in infinite fulness the qualities by which He can perfectly fulfil and satisfy all the relations in which He has placed Himself to His moral creatures. What heights and depths of goodness this holds out for the creation of God!

Our reflections on so sublime a theme should inspire us with awe before the Holy One, and should re-introduce into Christian thought and life the fear and reverence that it has all but lost. It humbles the creature and fills life with purpose and hope. For it puts the distinctions of right and wrong upon eternal foundations, it gives moral quality to human living, and it justifies and maintains the moral meaning and impulse of life. It accounts also for the moral element which cannot be eliminated from our destiny. Holiness tells man what his highest glory is to be, and what his darkest doom: on the one hand to be made partakers of the Divine holiness, and on the other, to be repelled by it into eternal antagonism. It ensures that at the last God will be seen to be all and in all. Let us, therefore, give Him thanks upon every remembrance of His holiness.


References

[1] Voltaire, p. 175.

[2] The Problem of Evil, p. 17.

[3] Works, vol. 1., p. 87.

[4] Ibid., vol. II., p. 143.

[5] Evangelical Theology, p. 130.

[6] Godet: Defence of the Christian Faith, p. 227.

[7] Carl Henry: Notes on the Doctrine of God, p. 103.

[8] Godet: Commentaries: Romans iii, 25, 26.


Prepared for the web by Robert I. Bradshaw in July 2005. Reproduced by kind permission of Westminster Chapel, London.


Back Top of Page

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Free Sitemap Generator