Tag Archives: Holy

Holiness and Love – A Poem

The other day I saw this quote (on Facebook, I think) by Walter J. Chantry: “The Bible as a whole speaks more of God’s holiness than of His love.”

At first I didn’t think much of it, but this quote kept coming back to me. It just didn’t seem quite right.

Then I wondered if this quote was perhaps supported by the number of times the word “holy” or “holiness” appears in the Bible versus the number of times “love” appears in the Bible. So I decided to check that theory with a word search at Biblegateway.com. What I found was that there are 555 verses that include either the word “holy” or “holiness,” and 698 verses that include the word “love.” So much for that theory.

The more I pondered this quote, I realized what was wrong with it. It suggests that God’s holiness and His love are somehow separate. But I believe it is God’s infinite love that makes Him holy, and His infinite holiness that is expressed as His love.

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied that it was to love the Lord our God. And that the second greatest command was to love our neighbors as ourselves. Elsewhere in scripture we are called to be holy just as our Father in heaven is holy. It seems to me that love and holiness go hand-in-hand — we cannot have one without the other.

Of course, this whole thought process culminated in a poem.

Holiness and Love

Your holiness upon the cross
I can scarcely bear to see

Revealing love of greatest worth
that sets the captives free

Without such love, no holiness
forever could there be

If not for Your great holiness
You would have no love for me

This is my offering of the day for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night #50. Head over and check out some other great poetry.

13 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

My Favorite Song to Sing

Just before bed last night I decided to check Facebook one last time. The “I Love God” page that I like had posted one of my favorite songs from scripture. It appears in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. (Just one more example of how they are two parts of a whole!)

The first place where this song is found is in Isaiah 6:1-3:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
        “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth  is full of his glory.”

The second place where this song is found is in Revelation 4:6-10:

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures  had six wings  and was covered with eyes all around,  even under his wings. Day and night  they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne   and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders  fall down before him  who sits on the throne,  and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

This reminded me of a song I had heard earlier in the day while I was listening to my iPod Christian playlist on shuffle as I put groceries away. It’s called One Day by Aaron Shust. I decided I wanted to share this song for Music Monday. It doesn’t really need any commentary. Its simple praise of our Holy God speaks for itself.

2 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Music

To Look Upon the Majesty of God

Last Sunday we had a guest preacher, a young man named Chris Nye. You can check out his blog here. He is a youth minister at another church in our area and had preached for our church a few times as we have been going through the process of calling a permanent pastor.

The text Chris was preaching from was Isaiah 6, which begins like this:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

      “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
       the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

The message Chris shared was simple: “If we could see God for who He really is we would be sinless.” In this passage of scripture we hear of how Isaiah saw God for who He is and was deeply humbled. John had a similar vision as recorded in Revelation 4 with a similar reaction. Seeing God for who He truly is reveals to the heart of man who he is by comparison, and the result is immediate awe and obedience. Upon seeing God, our response should be as Isaiah’s: “Woe is me!”

The problem is we don’t really understand who God is. We see “the fringes” of His glory and majesty, but fail to grasp the whole picture. Many people never even try, preferring to create a God of their own making, one who is much less majestic and worthy of awe.

Even those of us who desire to see Him, all of Him, fall short of a complete understanding. “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV). But still, as we gain more knowledge through the study of His Word and through prayer, seeking Him, we grow closer to that sinless state we would find ourselves in if only we could see fully. Slowly we are transformed, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

But this is not really what I had thought to write today. There was another message that came to me as I read along with the passage from Isaiah in church on Sunday. This is one of my favorite passages of scripture, but something occurred to me that I had not thought of before.

Isaiah describes the seraphs that attend God’s throne, noting that they covered their faces with two of their six wings. The footnote in my NIV Study Bible says this is because they could not gaze directly at God. I have always accepted this as the most logical reason for why the seraphs cover their faces, but I wonder if there is another reason.

It seems to me that if Isaiah, a mere man, “saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted,” then surely the seraphs who attend the throne could look at the Lord and see Him, too. As I ponder seraphs, I imagine they are some of the most beautiful creatures that God has ever created. Could any lesser creatures attend His throne?

Perhaps the reason the seraphs cover their faces in Isaiah’s vision is so that all focus will be on the Lord Almighty and Isaiah will not be distracted by their beauty. Surely they know that any beauty they have is only because it is a gift of God and that all glory belongs to Him alone. Perhaps it is their humility that leads them to act as they do.

I wonder if we could ever do the same? God has gifted each of us with a beauty all our own, but it is not ours to boast in or show off. It is for God’s glory that He has given us our gifts, talents, and beauty, and yet we take pride in them as if we had anything to do with obtaining them. We forget that we are nothing and have nothing apart from our Creator.

Which I suppose, brings me full circle to Chris’ message. “If we could see God for who He truly is” then we would give all glory to Him alone. We would want all focus to be on Him, just as the seraphs calling, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty” wanted Isaiah to see only God and His majesty.

6 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, postaday2011

Holy, Holy, Holy – A Poem

Quite a while ago I wrote a poem for Idylls for the King, the Christian literary blog I contribute to (which is on summer hiatus right now). I realized that I had never posted this poem here and that some of those who read here might enjoy it as well. I also think it fits well with my theme of prayer that brings us closer to God because it is about the character of God. It is His character as Holy that we come to know better when prayer is focused on our relationship with Him.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy is my Father
On high He sits and reigns
Loves us as sons and daughters
You and I His domain

Holy is the Son
On the cross was slain
Lamb of God, the Perfect One
You and I to gain

Holy is the Spirit
Our comforter in pain
Leading from the pit
You and I He sustains

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

   “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
   the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Isaiah 6:1-3 (NIV).

8 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Faith, Jesus, Poetry, postaday2011

Complete Love Binds Us in Unity

Last Sunday we had a guest speaker at church who gave a wonderful sermon. He is a seminary student, and like his father who is a pastor, his sermon style is more what I would call teaching than preaching. The lesson he shared on Sunday helped me to look at a piece of scripture in a new and exciting light, so I wanted to share what he taught and my reflections on his lesson.

The topic of his sermon was “Desiring Holiness.” He shared what he has learned are five characteristics of holiness that throughout the history of the Christian faith different people or groups have believed were the core of holiness. Those five characteristics are:

  1. Following the moral code set forth by God.
  2. Being pure and unblemished.
  3. Being set apart from unbelievers for God.
  4. Total devotion to God or complete conviction of faith in God.
  5. Perfection or sinlessness.

While each of these characteristics is a component of holiness, he asserted his belief that none is the true core of holiness. In addition, each of these characteristics, taken to the extreme, can actually lead to the opposite of holiness or result in a crisis of faith when one is unable to live up to their own expectations under each standard.

Then he shared what he believes — and I tend to agree or I wouldn’t be sharing this — is the core of holiness: Love. Without knowing it, the Gospel lesson he chose to speak on in support of his conclusion was the same scripture we had read for our Wordstrong passage just the day before. As a result, the majority of the congregation had recently been thinking about this very passage.

Love for Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV).

The last sentence of this passage is often quoted in support of the idea that to be holy we must be perfect, sinless, pure, set apart, and that we must follow all of God’s moral law. But our speaker pointed out that we must view Jesus command to “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” in the context of the whole passage. The Greek word for “perfect” in this passages is telios which means complete. In the context of this passage in which Jesus is speaking about loving not only your neighbor but your enemy as well, perfection is properly viewed as complete love.

Jesus is our perfect example of holiness. It is true that He led a sinless life, that He was pure and unblemished, that He was totally devoted to the Father, and that He followed the moral code of God perfectly. But that is not what makes Him truly holy. If He had done all of those things and then lived to a ripe old age, dying in His sleep of natural causes, He would not be our perfect example of holiness.

Jesus is our perfect example of holiness because He modeled for us complete love. He came and died not only for the righteous, but for sinners. He came to die for the enemies of God because He loved us with a perfect and complete love. He loved in a way that put all others before His own life and comfort. And as He hung on the cross and was about to die, He prayed for those who persecuted Him.

If we want to be holy we must do more than follow rules or set ourselves apart from those who do not; we must do more than seek sinless perfection. If we want to be holy we must love with a complete and perfect love that does not discriminate, but loves all the same.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV).

8 Comments

Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, postaday2011

Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord

People often talk about how God is love, which He is. This is an important part of God’s character. But there is another characteristic of God that people focus on less often, and that I want to focus on today. God is Holy.

The American Heritage Dictionary online defines the word holy as: “Regarded with or worthy of worship or veneration; revered; Regarded as deserving special respect or reverence.” This definition as applied to God is revealed in Heaven. There is a never-ending song that the angels in Heaven sing:

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; 
the whole earth is full of his glory. Isaiah 6:3.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come. Revelation 4:8.

I like both of these passages because of the triple “holy” that reminds me of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And I like the image of the angels never ceasing to magnify God’s holiness.

Regarding the word holy, my Holman Illustrated Pocket Bible Dictionary says:

God’s people are to be holy because God is holy. In this sense, God’s holiness is the complete perfection of His attributes such as power and goodness. God’s holiness is a humbling and even terrifying thing when revealed to weak and sinful men (e.g., Isa. 6:5; Luke 5:8; Rev. 1:17).

Wow! Not only is God holy, but we are called to be holy. How can that possibly be? We are but sinners saved by Grace? The key is that our holiness is not our own. In the New testament, believers are called saints, which means “holy ones.” But we are holy only because we are clothed in the holiness of Christ Jesus. Our holiness is a gift just as our salvation is. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17.

1 Comment

Filed under Faith