Last week I mentioned a lecture given by Dr. Gordon Fee of Regent College called Why Christians Read Their Bible Poorly. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the lecture you can click on this link. Because there are royalties paid there is a charge for the lecture. Why Christians Read Their Bibles Poorly | Regent Audio
Are you a theologian? Well, of course I’m not. I don’t have a doctorate in theology, I don’t teach at a seminary, and I don’t know the difference between infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism, and frankly, I don’t really care. But are those the qualifications for being a theologian? Let’s take the word apart. It is based on two Greek words – theos which means god and logos which means word. So, theology is literally god word or god talk. Anyone who has ever spoken the name of god or advanced an opinion of who they believe this god to be is, by definition a theologian. Even if their opinion is that god does not exist. That makes most of us theologians. The question we face is, what kind of theologian we will be.
I am a Christian theologian which means that my ideas and concepts of God are formed by our holy book – the Bible. Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Marxist theologians form their understanding of god from other texts. I am going to explore theology from a strictly Christian point of view. Your comments to me have suggested that an understanding of theology is essential to the process of making disciples. I will spend some time talking about the attributes of God. You can appreciate that my comments will be somewhat superficial, because how can you compress an attribute of God into 1,500 words or less.
I want to start by looking at the holiness of God. In coming weeks, I will look at the omnipotence of God, His omniscience, His omnipresence, His mercy as well as His justice. Not sure exactly how many as yet, so I would ask that you let me know which attributes you are most interested in.
I want to begin with the opening verses of Isaiah 6 when the prophet received his call to ministry. Isaiah 6:1-3 (NKJV) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
The context of the book of Leviticus and its demands for purity is the holiness of God. When Moses was confronted by God in a burning bush, he was commanded to remove his sandals because he was in the presence of God, he was standing on holy ground. The only one of God’s attributes that is repeated three times in a single verse is His holiness. The angels cried “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” We are never told that God is love, love, love nor just, just, just. I think it would in order to say that each of God’s attributes could carry the modifying adjective of holy. We can say that God is holy love, holy power and holy wisdom and knowledge. Each attribute is showcased in the overarching arena of His absolute holiness.
But what is holiness? We get a glimpse in Isaiah 55:8-9 (NRSV) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. God is separate and apart from us. He is unlike us. And part of that difference is that He is absolutely morally pure. The scripture says that God cannot lie, it isn’t that He chooses not to lie, but that His very nature makes lying an impossibility. In the gospel of John, we read that falsehood, lying is the language that Satan speaks. Truth is the natural language of God. There is not an outside standard against which to measure God to check His morality, rather He is the standard by which all actions and thoughts are measured to see if they are moral. About 25 years ago it became popular to wear bracelets that bore the initials WWJD which stood for “What would Jesus do?” What would a holy God do in this situation? We worship and follow a God that holy.
And God demands holiness on our part as well. We read it in 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV) But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Pretty high bar – the holiness of God. We have tried to be holy and have failed. These verses can make us feel defeated and forsaken. Who could ever claim to by holy? No one. But the good news is that what God commands He grants the power to accomplish. Hear these words of encouragement. 1 John 1:9 (NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Forgive and cleanse. Pardoned and made holy. In his letters to various churches, Paul refers to the members of those churches as saints or sanctified or holy ones. By the blood of Jesus, we have been declared righteous and holy. That is good news my friends. Live in the holiness that God has imparted to you.
Till next week Keep the Son in Your Eyes.