Summary: The Situation.
I. THE SITUATION
A. God’s Perfection
1. The March/April 2016 issue of Psychology Today attempted to give readers several reasons to cultivate a sense of awe and wonder with their article "It's Not All About You!" The article mentioned the following secular sources about our need for awe and wonder:
• University of Pennsylvania researchers defined awe as the "emotion of self-transcendence, a feeling of admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self."
• A popular theoretical physicist wrote: "Awe gives you an existential shock. You realize that you are hardwired to be a little selfish, but you are also dependent on something bigger than yourself." Being enraptured is a way "to remove the tyranny of the ego."
• Therapist Robert Leahy, PhD writes: "Awe is the opposite of rumination. It clears away inner turmoil with a wave of outer immensity."
• Social scientists have found that when people experience a sense of awe, they feel more empathetic and more connected with others. One scientist concluded, "Wonder pulls us together—a counterforce to all that seems to be tearing us apart."
• The Wharton School of Business evaluated the New York Times' most emailed articles and found that the ones that evoked awe were the most shared.
2. In reality there is only one thing, one person that lives up to that name “awe” and that would be God! This book is not about the attributes of God, that would take another entire series of books. So we must limit ourselves to just a few basic truths about God, that are relevant to our present study.
But we have to keep in mind that at one time, if you want to call it time, there was the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and no one else! I love the way Arthur Pink puts it in The Attributes of God:
“In the beginning God.” There was no heaven, where His glory is now particularly manifested. There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to hymn His praises; no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was nothing, no one, but God; and that, not for a day, a year, or an age, but “from everlasting.” During eternity past, God was alone: self-contained, self-sufficient, self-satisfied; in need of nothing. Had a universe, had angels, had human beings been necessary to Him in any way, they also had been called into existence from all eternity. The creating of them when He did, added nothing to God essentially. He changes not (Mal 3:6), therefore His essential glory can be neither augmented nor diminished.
Read that again and let it soak in! Wow! You talk about awesome and stunning and breathtaking and…That would be God! As usual A. W. Tozer in his book The Knowledge of the Holy makes a needed application:
To admit that there is One who lies beyond us, who exists outside of all our categories, who will not be dismissed with a name, who will not appear before the bar of our reason, nor submit to our curious inquiries: this requires a great deal of humility, more than most of us possess, so we save face by thinking God down to our level, or at least down to where we can manage Him. Yet how He eludes us! For He is everywhere while He is nowhere, for "where" has to do with matter and space, and God is independent of both. He is unaffected by time or motion, is wholly self-dependent and owes nothing to the worlds His hands have made.
I have to resist the temptation to go on and on and discipline myself to focus on the purpose of this book. So let’s begin.
1. Holy Holy Holy.
a. Definition of holiness.
Charles Ryrie in Basic Theology notes:
In respect to God, holiness means not only that He is separate from all that is unclean and evil but also that He is positively pure and thus distinct from all others. An analogy may help in understanding this concept. What does it mean to be healthy? It is the absence of illness, but also a positive infusion of energy. Holiness is the absence of evil and the presence of positive right… The absolute, innate holiness of God means that sinners have to be separated from Him unless a way can be found to constitute them holy. And that way has been provided in the merits of Jesus Christ.
We can say at least two things about God’s holiness:
• Absolute moral Purity.
Herbert Lockyer in All the Doctrines of the Bible notes:
God possesses intrinsic holiness.
He is holy in His nature. As light is the essence of the sun, so holiness is God’s very being.