Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 4a

This is a continuation of a series studying "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips. Note: Block quotes in italics are from the book, and used with permission. Scripture quotations are NKJV unless otherwise noted.

As with chapter 3, I will cover chapter 4 in parts. There's a lot of "meat" to "chew on". :)

Part Two of "WTG" begins with Chapter 4, "The God Who Plans". Dan opens the chapter by having us imagine a scene in an operating room, with a major surgery underway. He has us wonder why such a large-scale operation is necessary; what catastrophic condition requires such drastic measures. He segues into a vivid accounting of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying. Dan writes:
"It is nighttime. Before us, we immediately recognize the figure of Jesus Christ - but we are seeing Him as no one has ever seen Him. This man who has stared down thousands of hell's foulest demons without blinking, who has shut up storms with a curt word of command, who has reduced the human powers to babbling, loose-bowelled nonsense - is falling down in horror, and He is pleading with His Father."
 Dan goes on to recount Christ's arrest, trial, crucifixion and death. He doesn't go into excruciating detail, but he doesn't really gloss over the realities, either. His descriptions, while brief, strike the right balance of delivering the facts without going overboard into horror-movie territory. 

Why was Jesus' death on the cross absolutely necessary for the recovery and redemption of man? From what ruin were we saved, and was it really that bad? 

We've learned that by our sin nature, we're dead, doomed, helpless and completely disinterested in seeking a relationship with God as God and Lord, and our own efforts to improve our situation often makes things worse. We must have a biblical understanding of God, to Whom we must give account. 

What Kind of God is God?

The living God of the Bible is described repeatedly and emphatically in moral terms, in language bristling with that element we hate in our postmodern culture: value judgments.
 Dan singles out three of God's traits, the first of which we'll look at in this post. 

God Is Holy

Holiness is a central character trait of God. Isaiah 57:15 reads, "For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy." By saying God's "name is Holy", Isaiah is saying that holiness is a fundamental defining trait of God. It is essential to His moral existence.

Holiness is the only attribute of God that is declared in threefold repetition. In Isaiah 6:3 we find seraphim  crying out saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" 

God's holiness will also never change. Revelation 4:8 reads, in part, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come." God was holy, God is holy, and God will always be holy. His holiness must not be isolated from His other attributes, however. Rather, God's holiness describes His other attributes. His love is a holy love. His goodness is a holy goodness, and so forth and so on. 

There is no "God is holy, but"; there is only "God is holy, and."
What, then, is holiness? The basic idea of holiness is separation, apartness, transcendence. God has no rival, peer or equal. He is lofty, removed from mankind and His name is Holy.

God is self-existent, dependent on nothing for His being, unlike everything else. He is independent of creation. By contrast, all created things are dependent on the sustaining work of God the Son, even to the atomic level. Colossians 1:17 says, "And He [Jesus] is before all things, and in Him all things consist."

Dan offers several illustrations of the impact of God's holiness to help us understand. The first illustration is Moses' encounter with God at the burning bush. Moses was told to take his sandals off because the presence of God made it "holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). It was set apart from all the other ground because God's presence was there at that moment.

The second illustration is that God set apart the seventh day as a day of rest because He rested (Genesis 2:3). He later told Israel to set the seventh day apart from the others (Exodus 20:8). 

The third and probably most detailed illustration Dan gives is that of the tabernacle. The description of the tabernacle can be found in Exodus 26. 

What makes all these things holy isn't their physical attributes or any magical qualities. They are "holy" by virtue of their association with God.

God is the original; He is the definition; He is the source. God naturally possesses holiness by virtue of being God. Holiness is not conferred on God, or achieved by Him. He is holy because He is who He is. He is 'the Holy One of Israel.' When we give Him a holy place as Lord in our hearts (Isa. 8:13; 1 Peter 3:15), we add nothing to Him. We are only crediting Him with being what He is in truth.
 In the OT, when anyone is in the presence of God, they are overwhelmed by His holiness. Likewise, when Peter got a brief glimpse of Christ's nature, he was driven to his knees, unable to bear His presence. (Luke 5:8). 

Personal Notes

In our finite minds, it's difficult to grasp God's holiness. We tend to make God "one of the guys". He's not just like us, and we tread on dangerous ground when we try to make God fit our ideas of how we think He should be. That's why it's so vital that we read, learn and understand Scripture. 

This first part of chapter 4 was much easier to read through than it was to try to summarize. :) I strongly encourage you to get a copy of the book (links are at the beginning of each post, and at the right-hand side of the page). As I said at the beginning of this post, there's a lot of well-written "meat". What I've written here is the equivalent of bacon bits, but I am learning as I write. :)

Coming Up Next...

The next post will cover the second Central Truth: God is Love. 

Have a blessed day!


1 comment:

Thomas Louw said...

Yummy bacon bits at that.