Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Holiness of God

God's sovereignty is undoubtedly intertwined with His holiness. What better time to focus on these subjects than at the 2009 Ligonier National Conference held last week in Orlando, FL. This year, the topic of the conference was "The Holiness of God." I attended most of the sessions, and I thought everything that was said was appropriately framed by R.C. Sproul's opening and closing messages. Here are some of the highlights from those two messages - notice how the line between God's holiness and His sovereignty are nearly indistinguishable:

Opening Message on The Holiness of God (Session 6)

God is Holy. The word "holy" has two meanings. In one sense, "holiness" refers to God's "otherness." He is different than anything created. In another sense, it refers to God's purity, as in, "Be holy as I am Holy." This can only be accomplished in the second sense. We cannot in this life or the next achieve holiness in the first sense of the word.

We are finite. There are limits/boundaries by which we are contained. God is boundless. "God is not bound by the borders of creaturely-ness . . . No matter how far we go, we can't reach the end of God, because there is no end."

God is immutable. Creatures change, God does not. He is not subject to change. God has the power of being in and of Himself, but nothing else can exist apart from Him. God didn't die on the cross -- Jesus did. If God had died at any point in time, creation would instantly vanish.

Conclusion: The God who is holy is the God who is sovereign.

Closing Message on the Holiness of God (Session 17)
Scripture Reference: 1 Chronicles 13

"The sin of Uzza was the sin of arrogance." - Jonathan Edwards

We tend to think that God was "unreasonable" in striking Uzza dead for touching the ark of the covenant. All Uzza was trying to do was save the ark from falling into the mud. Are we to believe that it would have been better to allow the ark to fall into the mud, when the mud is so dirty? Uzza assumed that contact with the mud was a greater desecration than contact with human hands. There is no sin in the dirt. There is sin in the human hand. This is why Uzza was killed. (C.R. Numbers 4, Leviticus 10).

We have become unimpressed with grace because we expect it. And when we expect it, we lose that sense of fear, awe, and reverence for God. (R.C. Sproul told a story about his days as a professor. When his students turned in an assignment late for the first time, they feared him and were thankful for his grace in the form of an extension. But they soon assumed grace was the norm and more students began turning in their term papers late. Eventually, the students demanded grace and believed they were entitled to it. They not only did not have their papers to turn in, but they no longer feared anything would happen to them if they didn't.) We cannot forget as people under God's grace that He is still holy.

Additional Quotes on the Holiness of God During the Conference

Robert Godfrey: "This is the essence of American religion: I like sinning. God likes forgiving. The world is well put together." (Isaiah chs. 6 & 53)

Thabiti Anyabwile: "Sin is contempt toward God. Don't say it was a mistake, or I messed up."

Alistair Begg: "On what authority do you do this? The money changers never objected to what He [Jesus] said, they just wanted to know by what authority was He saying it." (John 16:5-15)

Robert Godfrey (On predestination): "How is it that some believe and some don't? It's all according to God's sovereign purpose."

Ligon Duncan: Question: "What would make an Calvinistic evangelist even get up in the morning, knowing that nothing he does will affect the outcome of his work?"
Thabiti Anyabwile: Answer: "Guaranteed success!"

R.C. Sproul (on God's sovereignty in predestination): "Let me give you pastoral counsel if you don't like this concept: TOUGH!"

If you missed it or want to watch it again, the entire conference is available to watch (including the first five sessions of the pre-conference) by clicking here.

2 comments:

Geraldine said...

Sproul has published a book going by the same title as your post Jen. Have you read it? I'll have to make some time to watch some of the conference! From your post it sounds great and really edifying.

Jennifer said...

Funny you should mention it -- I picked up a copy of the book at the conference. I can't wait to start reading it!