by Bill Nugent
In this article we shall discover a key to understanding the greatest mystery of all that exists in or out of the universe. I do not say that we will solve this mystery but we shall explore it’s outlines and this understanding will give us insight into a practical knowledge of the majesty of God.
One of the most subtle attacks against the biblical faith is the tendency of postmodern theologians to reduce or diminish God. Postmodernists have attempted to create God in man’s image. Postmodernists, if they acknowledge God at all, make Him out to be just a nice guy. They claim that God either does not punish sin or if He does punish sin it is only in the most extreme of cases.
The historic Christian view is that God has spoken to humanity and revealed Himself as being different from us and transcendent over His creation. God is a different order of being that is far above us. The super-intelligent designer of the universe is far greater than all of humanity put together.
The Bible says in Isaiah 55:8-9 “‘ For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,’ declares 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‘” (NAS). God is not some silly ambivalent man! His ways are beyond us and without God’s help we can never understand this. The Bible has a word that describes this.
This brings us to the greatest mystery. This greatest mystery, greater than any other mystery in the universe, is the mystery ofholiness. In the Old Testament we read “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3 NAS). In the New Testament we read similarly “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”(Revelation 4:8 NKJV). The word “holy” is repeated three times for emphasis in both passages. No other attribute of God is ever repeated in this way in all of the scriptures.
The postmodernists like to say that God is an all-loving God and may even quote First John 4:8 “God is love.” They refrain from quoting the passage which reads “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). Nowhere in the Bible has God declared Himself to be an “all-loving” God. The Bible does teach that God is a God of love but also teaches that God is a God of wrath against sin. Consider this passage in Romans 11:22 “Behold then the kindness and severity of God.” We love to talk about His kindness but let’s not forget His severity.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God is love, love, love. Only the word holy is repeated three times. God’s holiness is His supreme characteristic. God’s love is holy love. God’s wrath is holy wrath. Holiness is hard to define. Words are so inadequate to convey its meaning. One can say that holiness is God’s character, His supremeness, His nature, His essence of being, His self, His inner personality, His pure morality, His utter transcendence and grandeur. Since the meaning is so hard to precisely define and since it relates to the very nature of God, this makes holiness the greatest mystery of all time. It is a mystery we would be foolish to ignore!
Isaiah the prophet, when He saw the vision of God in the Temple said “Woe is me! for I am undone” (Isaiah 6:5). In the following verses we read how Isaiah received forgiveness of his sins and could therefore remain calmly in God’s presence and answer God’s call to service.
In the same way, we also must receive forgiveness of sins if we expect to enter heaven in the afterlife and be in God’s presence. We must be purged of sin and we must partake of God’s holiness. We cannot make ourselves holy by our own strength or our own good works.
Jesus the Messiah, foretold by the prophets, came to suffer the just wrath of the holy God that was due us because of our sins. “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (I Peter 3:18 NIV). It is through Christ therefore that we must partake of God’s holiness to joyfully serve Him all our days and freely enter into His loving presence in heaven.