“Salvation” series (post #3)
If I traveled around America and asked each person to give me a one-word description of God, I’d surely get a variety of answers. I feel safe in saying, though, that the answer I’d hear the most is “Love.” And, for the record, that is a perfectly correct and thoroughly Biblical answer. As John 4:8 says:
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (N.K.J.V.)
The problem, however, with us Americans being so comfortable with God as a God of love is that far too many of us wrongly believe that His love always overrides His other characteristics. For example, the false doctrine of universalism springs from the depths of God’s love. Universalism is the idea that God loves each human being so much that, in the end, He will not allow even one of them to be separated from Him for eternity or to suffer everlasting punishment. Obviously, this teaching flies directly in the face of passages such as Matthew 5:29-30; 10:28; 25:46, Mark 9:43-48, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Jude 1:7, and Revelation 21:8 just to name a few.
So, is God love? Yes, He is. But what we must understand is that the Bible doesn’t present love as God’s chief characteristic. That place of priority goes, instead, to holiness. Think about it, if love is all there is to God, the Bible wouldn’t include all its passages about hell fire and eternal judgment. God’s love would render those null and void.
I’ll cite some passages here that speak of God’s holiness, but I want it known that this is just a small sampling of a very long list. If you want to find the entire list, take a Bible Concordance and look up the word “holy.” These are just some that I’ve chosen:
- As Moses spoke with God (in the form of The Angel of the Lord) at the burning bush, he was told, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:1-6).
- God proclaimed His holiness when He said to Moses, “…for I the Lord am holy…” (Leviticus 20:26).
- Joshua said of God, “…for he is a holy God” (Joshua 24:19).
- When Isaiah, in a vision, saw God sitting on a throne, he saw seraph angels crying out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts…” (Isaiah 6:1-3).
- When John, during his Revelation, saw God in heaven, he saw four living creatures, each having six wings, who do not rest day or night from saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”(Revelation 4:1-8).
- The Old Testament prophets referred to God as “The Holy One” (Jeremiah 51:5; Ezekiel 39:7; Hosea 11:9; Habakkuk 3:3).
- God’s name is holy (1 Chronicles 16:10).
- God sits on a holy throne (Psalm 47:8).
- God speaks in holiness (Psalm 60:6; 108:7).
- God cannot even be tempted to do evil (James 1:13).
And so now we know two facts about God. Fact #1: He exists. Fact #2: Everything about Him is holy. These are the two facts we need to secure the proper foundation for us to get a correct assessment of our standing with God. We’ll get to that in the next post, and so until then stay tuned…..