Saturday, May 7, 2011

Book Review: The Holiness of God

The Holiness of God. R.C. Spoul. 1985. Tyndale. 280 pages.

I would definitely recommend The Holiness of God. I found it to be rich in truth, full of treasure. The focus is on God--on God's holiness. On what God's holiness means to humanity. How God's holiness is tied in closely with God's justice and God's wrath--but also his mercy and love. Much of the book is spent on sin, focusing on how humans are captive to sin, on how our sin keeps us separated from God, how sin makes us all deserving of eternal punishment, how sin hurts and angers God, how God's holiness demands that someone pay the price for the sin in the world. But it isn't only about "the bad news." It isn't all sin, sin, sin, sin. It is also about God's mercy and grace. How grace is completely, absolutely undeserved. How grace should not be taken lightly, taken for granted. So other topics covered include justification and sanctification. (It's also about Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer and Lord.)

Sproul relies on the Bible throughout each of his chapters to illustrate his argument. He shines the spotlight on a handful of characters including Peter and Saul/Paul and Isaiah. (There are really too many to list them all). He uses both Old Testament and New Testament examples. One of his chapters focuses on Martin Luther, another on Jonathan Edwards. I found the book getting better with each chapter.

The most brutal act of divine vengeance ever recorded in Scripture is not found in the Old Testament but in the New Testament. The most violent expression of God's wrath and justice is seen in the cross. If ever a person had room to complain of injustice it was Jesus. He was the only innocent man ever to be punished by God. If we stagger at the wrath of God, let us stagger at the cross. Here is where our astonishment should be focused. If we have cause for moral outrage, let it be directed at Golgotha.
The cross was at once the most horrible and the most beautiful example of God's wrath. It was the most just and the most gracious act in history. (185)

There are only two things I ever receive from God--justice or mercy. I never receive injustice from His hand. (196)

The struggle we have with a holy God is rooted in the conflict between God's righteousness and our unrighteousness. He is just and we are unjust. This tension creates fear, hostility, and anger within us toward God. The unjust person does not desire the company of a just judge. We become fugitives fleeing from the presence of One whose glory can blind us and whose justice can condemn us. We are at war with Him unless or until we are justified. Only the justified person can be comfortable in the presence of a holy God. (224)

*The book was revised and expanded in 1997. I read the older edition, so I'm not sure how much of a difference there is between the two.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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