I’ve just finished this book, which we’ve been reading in our Tuesday morning Bible study class. I found it challenging in a way that’s hard to pin down. According to Sproul,
“The one concept, the central idea I kept meeting in Scripture was the idea that God is holy.”
Any Christian would agree with that statement, but what exactly does holiness mean? One of the first discussion questions (each chapter has these) was When you think of God as holy, what comes to mind?” I told the class, I could think of things that suggested God’s power or God’s love or God’s mercy, but God’s holiness is difficult to express.
Holiness, of course, means set apart. Certain items and places are holy because they have been set apart for sacred purposes — the church building itself, the baptismal font, the communion ware and so on. In the same way, we, the people of God are holy because we have been chosen and set apart to do God’s work.
God’s holiness is different, because God is different. God’s holiness is expressed in these verses from Isaiah:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor 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.”
God is so different, we can’t begin to understand Him; and we can’t truly understand His holiness because it is not so much one characteristic of God, it encompasses all that God is. God is holy because He is God. Whatever God chooses to do is holy, because God is always good and always right. He sees everything from the perspective of eternity. What God does is always consistent with Who God is. Is this beginning to make sense?
All I can say about this book is, I didn’t so much teach me things, as it taught me how little I actually know; but maybe that’s a good thing. It was humbling and somewhat uncomfortable. At best, I have made a start at understanding the holiness of God. Read it for yourself and see. I would love to hear some other opinions.
Note: There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter (if you’re like me you’ll struggle with them) so it can be studied in a small group setting, or with a friend.
For more on R.C. Sproul visit these posts:
Flee to the Scripture– A Quote by R.C. Sproul