Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review: The Holiness of God

The Holiness of GodThe Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Note: the following page numbers reference an older edition of this book.)

The holiness of God has a history of deeply affecting people. I remember being a young teen and watching a video of Sproul teaching on this subject with my youth group. I will never forget the sense of God’s greatness I experienced that night.

In chapter 1, Sproul recounts how Augustine’s teaching on creation led him (Sproul) to an experience of the holiness of God of his own. In chapter 2, he goes back and discusses one of the greatest encounters with a holy God a human has ever had: Isaiah’s vision of the God of the Universe sitting on his majestic throne (chapter 2). Many other encounters are discussed throughout the book, including Jesus’ stilling of the storm, and Jacob’s wrestling with the angel

Sprinkled throughout the book are some helpful illustrations. When a class bombs an exam the students hope to be graded on the curve and have their marks boosted. Woe to the one student who managed to ace the exam and thus break the curve! Jesus Christ “was the supreme curve buster” (85).

Sproul digs out another illustration from the book Of Mice and Men, in which Sproul sees Lennie as a Christ figure. Slim tells George after George shot Lennie, “A guy got to sometimes.” Sproul writes:

“Sometimes people have to be executed…He knew Lennie could not survive in this world. Lennie had to die. Lennie traumatized everyone and everything he touched. So it was with Christ. The world could not tolerate Jesus; they could love Him, but only at a distance…a present Christ could not survive in a world of hostile men. It was the judgment of Caiaphas that for the good of the nation Jesus must die. Sometimes ya just got to” (p.97).

I highly recommend this book to anyone with a hunger for God. It will help you understand what God’s holiness is. Sproul takes the whole of chapter 3 to define it. And he does so rightly. Holiness is not just God’s separateness from sin, but his separateness from everything and everyone. It is his being God, and God alone.

You will not only understand the concept of God’s holiness, but you will also better appreciate it. For instance, who hasn’t read the passage about Uzzah being killed because he tried to steady the ark and thought God’s punishment a little harsh! But Sproul writes:

“Uzzah assumed that his hand was less polluted than the earth. But it wasn’t the ground or the mud that would desecrate the ark; it was the touch of man. The earth is an obedient creature…the ground doesn’t commit cosmic treason…Uzzah was not an innocent man” (141).

On our own transformation to holiness, Romans 12.1-2 is clear that our transformation comes from the renewing of our minds. “This means nothing more and nothing less than education” (p.210). And Sproul’s The Holiness of God is a good start in that education.

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