Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reading Classics Together: The Holiness of God



As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I'm participating in Reading the Classics Together with Tim Challies, Leslie Wiggins, and others. Although Challies has hosted a number of these community reading/discussion groups, this is the first in which I am participating.

The first thing that struck me while reading The Holiness of God is Sproul's rich, descriptive language. It is not hard to find yourself in his shoes: feeling what he feels, hearing what he hears, seeing what he sees. I found it easy to experience what Sproul had experienced and to resonate with his thirst, zeal, and passion for the things of God. In this opening chapter, Sproul writes about how he came to desire to know God more fully, and how he came to realize that the holiness of God "is basic to our whole understanding of God and of Christianity" (pg. 24).

I found Sproul's thoughts regarding the Lord's Prayer intriguing. He noted that "The first line of the prayer is not a petition. It is a form of personal address" (pg. 24). He then goes on to remark that the first petition in the prayer is "…hallowed be thy name. They kingdom come…" Here's what I found thought-provoking:

"There is a kind of sequence within the prayer. God's kingdom will never come where His name is not hallowed. His will is not done on earth as it is in heaven if His name is desecrated here…It is foolish to look for the kingdom anywhere God is not revered" (pg. 25).

However, I wonder if this is fully accurate. Can God's kingdom not come or will it not come if none of us were to regard Him as holy? Indeed, it already has come and is coming through and because of Christ in spite of the fact that God's name is not regarded as holy among the masses. (Matthew 12:28, Luke 10:9-11) Nothing can stop His plan. Though, 'tis true that one day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:10-11, Philippians 2:9-11), this is not presently the case.

One thing is true:

"How we understand the person and character of God the Father affects every aspect of our lives…we must seek to understand what the holy is...There can be no worship, no spiritual growth, no true obedience without it. It defines our goal as Christians. God has declared, 'Be ye holy, for I am holy.' [Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:15-16] To reach that goal we must understand what holiness is" (pg. 25-26).

Will you join me in seeking to grow in your understanding of the holiness of God? If so, read Chapter 2 in The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul, and prepare to share your thoughts in the comments section.

4 comments:

Becky said...

Mrs. Davis Hankins,

Thank you for stopping at my place, and leaving a kind note.

Reading this book will challenge us indeed to live holy lives just as our God is Holy.

I love to ponder over the fact that this journey of our sanctification starts and ends in grace.

Sola Gratia!

P.S. "see" you next week :)

Lisa notes... said...

Elizabeth,
You make a good point in your post. God’s kingdom will and has come, regardless of what WE think about it. Perhaps Sproul is referring to his kingdom coming in US personally if we have no regard for who he is? Thanks for making me think about this. I’ll look forward to more of your discerning thoughts.
Blessings,
Lisa

findingthemotherlode said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I'm also following along with Challies.com, and was struck by the same passage as you:

"God's kingdom will never come where His name is not hallowed. His will is not done on earth as it is in heaven if His name is desecrated here…It is foolish to look for the kingdom anywhere God is not revered" (pg. 25).

You make a good point when you say,"Can God's kingdom not come or will it not come if none of us were to regard Him as holy? Indeed, it already has come and is coming through and because of Christ in spite of the fact that God's name is not regarded as holy among the masses."

One thought I have to your question is: But even Jesus echoed John's words: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." -Matthew 4:17

As only God is intrinsically holy, we must make room for Him. If anyone or anything else is to be rendered holy, it is only so by God's decree.

The kingdom of God is such that it advances and increases. "Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end." -Isaiah 9:7

And since God's kingdom is his rule and reign, when it comes, the effect is righteousness, peace and joy. "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit-"
-Romans 14:17

So, although the kingdom of God is Providential in nature, it is only peculiar to the people of God. It is not endemic to the masses, but is a promise to the one who believes, just as Jesus told Nicodemus: "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
-John 3:3

I hope these words make some sense to what is a profound topic. This is my third read of this excellent book, and it just keeps getting better. It's very thought-provoking.

God bless,
-Elizabeth (too!)

Kara said...

The book definitely starts off with a bang! The first chapter is powerful. I was a bit startled by his statement about the kingdom too, but, based on what I know of him from his other writings, I'm assuming he means we won't *personally experience* the effects of the kingdom if we don't regard His name as holy. He clearly believes in the "already" and "not yet" aspects of the kingdom, so this is how I interpreted that statement. Thanks for stopping by my blog too! I'm looking forward to continued discussion over the weeks.