Browsing through my quotation file this morning, I stumbled upon this gem from David Wells’ classic work, No Place for Truth: Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? Wells calls the holiness of Godthe foundation of reality. His point is well-taken by those of us who are committed to counseling one another with the life-transforming truth of the gospel. With the loss of a biblical vision of the holiness of God we lose all moorings for life and devalue the gospel of our glorious Lord who saves us from the penalty, the power and, eventually, the presence of sin.
The loss of the traditional vision of God as holy is now manifested everywhere in the evangelical world. It is the key to understanding why sin and grace have become such empty terms. What depth or meaning, P.T. Forsyth asked, can these terms have except in relation to the holiness of God? Divorced from the holiness of God, sin is merely self-defeating behavior or a breach in etiquette. Divorced from the holiness of God, grace is merely empty rhetoric, pious window dressing for the modern technique by which sinners work out their own salvation. Divorced from the holiness of God, our gospel becomes indistinguishable from any of a host of alternative self-help doctrines. Divorced from the holiness of God, our public morality is reduced to little more than an accumulation of trade-offs between competing private interests. Divorced from the holiness of God, our worship becomes mere entertainment. The holiness of God is the very cornerstone of Christian faith, for it is the foundation of reality. Sin is defiance of God’s holiness, the Cross is the out working and victory of God’s holiness, and faith is the recognition of God’s holiness. Knowing that God is holy is therefore the key to knowing life as it truly is, knowing Christ as he truly is, knowing why he came, and knowing how life will end.
Lord, take us back to the Isaiah 6 throne-room vision of your majesty and holiness so that we may never lose sight of the glory of your saving grace!