Sunday, October 30, 2011

Art by Greg Martin

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY or Grace (Pt6)

"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

   A t this point it is best to stop and look a little closer at what is meant by the holiness of God as I find our natural inclination is to view the term "holy" or "holiness" as simply referring to the sinless, pure nature of God.  However, we must remember that is only one facet of the term "holy" and "holiness" when referring to God. So when the terms holy or holiness are used to describe God, just what is meant? In his on line study Bob Deffinbaugh states the following;
"The term 'holy' is often understood in its contemporary usage rather than its true meaning in the Scriptures. For this reason, our study must begin by reviewing several dimensions of the definition of holiness.
  1. To be holy is to be distinct, separate, in a class by oneself. As Sproul puts it:
'The primary meaning of holy is "separate." It comes from an ancient word that meant, "to cut," or "to separate." Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase "a cut above something." When we find a garment or another piece of merchandise that is outstanding, that has a superior excellence, we use the expression that it is "a cut above the rest."' (R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God [Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1985], p. 54.)
This means that the one who is holy is uniquely holy, with no rivals or competition.
'When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be ‘other,’ to be different in a special way [emphasis mine]. The same basic meaning is used when the word holy is applied to earthly things.' (Ibid p.55)
   A gain, scripture plainly points out what is emphasized in the above quotation;
"No one is holy like the LORD, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God." (1 Samuel 2:2/NKJV)

   T his is not to exclude the moral purity of God, rather moral purity is only a part of God's holiness.  Once more the study by Deffinbaugh states it best; "Purity is not excluded from the idea of the holy; it is contained within it."  Gods attributes are based in holiness, everything about God is unlike man (which makes sense as he is the Creator and we are the created).  So when we think of Gods love we must remember His love is holy.  Additionally, when we think of His kindness, mercy, grace, justice, wisdom and judgement, we must remember all of these are holy.  This is the third point made by Deffinbaugh in his study;
      "3. For God to be holy is for Him to be holy in relation to every
      aspect of His nature and character.

'When we use the word holy to describe God, we face another problem. We often describe God by compiling a list of qualities or characteristics that we call attributes. We say that God is a spirit, that He knows everything, that He is loving, just, merciful, gracious, and so on. The tendency is to add the idea of the holy to this long list of attributes as one attribute among many. But when the word holy is applied to God, it does not signify one single attribute. On the contrary, God is called holy in a general sense. The word is used as a synonym for his deity. That is, the word holy calls attention to all that God is. It reminds us that His love is holy love, his justice is holy justice, his mercy is holy mercy, his knowledge is holy knowledge, his spirit is holy spirit.'"(Ibid p.57)
   S o everything about God is holy, i.e. so far above us, so far set apart from us. In the Old Testament Isaiah speaks for God and states;
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9/NKJV)

and Paul also states in the New Testament;
"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God..." (1 Corinthians 3: 19a/NKJV)

   I t is this realization that causes so many to respond as they do when coming into God's presence.  It is why Job has to get on his face and say;
"Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know...Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42: 3, 6/NKJV)

   I t is why Isaiah exclaims he is "undone"(Isaiah 6:5), it is why Joshua falls on his face when confronted by the captain of the Lord of Hosts (Joshua 5:14), it is why the angels have to tell Zacharias, Mary and the shepherds to "not be afraid" (Luke 1:18, Luke 1:30, Luke 2:9-10), it is why those with Peter were astonished, and it is why Peter falls down in Luke 5.

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

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original art by Greg Martin

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Art by Greg Martin


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

   I n GRACE Pt 4 we briefly discussed the "Who?" which answered one of the foundational truths we see/learn in Luke 5:1-11. Now we will discuss the second question "What?", i.e. what is God like, what qualities and/or characteristics does he possess and manifest?. This second question needs to be answered so we can lay a solid foundation for anything else we see/learn in this passage. In my previous post that question is first answered with one word, "Holy"*. While it is true God possesses many other qualities/characteristics, and it is true we learn of many of His other characteristics in Luke 5: 1-11, it is also true this one quality is foundational to all the others. It is this quality that is the very essence of God.  So where do we find it in Luke 5:1-11?
"When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'”. For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid....' (Luke 5:8-10/NKJV)

   P eter falls before Christ and states; "Depart from me, for I am sinful man, O Lord.", because he recognizes (at this time) Jesus is not just a rabbi to be highly respected, but the representative of God.  Consequently, Peter understands Jesus has the power and authority of God and God's very presence is with Him.  This in turn brings about the realization (by Peter) of the holiness of God.  His response is more fully discussed here, here, and also in a previous post.  Peters response is reflective of the children of Israel in Exodus 34 when Moses had to place a veil over his face;
"Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him." (Exodus 34: 29-30/NKJV)

Paul also mentions the veil of Moses in 2 Corinthians;
"...unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away."(2 Corinthians 3:13/NKJV)

-for more information on the veil over Moses face see here, here and here. However, there is a difference in how the presence of God was manifested with Moses and with Christ.  It is obvious that Jesus (nor is it recorded anywhere in scripture) did not "shine" as did Moses, rather the presence of God was manifested in so many other ways in Christs life.  This makes total sense as Jesus is God, while Moses is/was not.  Finally, the holiness of God is not only shown over and over in scripture, but also emphasized over and over in scripture;
"Then He said, 'Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.'" (Exodus 3:5/NKJV)

"Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness,..." (Exodus 15:11/NKJV)

"For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy...You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. " (Leviticus 11:44-45/NKJV - see also Leviticus 19:2, 20:7)

"No one is holy like the LORD,..." (1 Samuel 2:2a/NKJV)

"The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; let the earth be moved! The LORD is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name—He is holy." (Psalm 99:1-3/NKJV)

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!' (Isaiah 6:1-3/NKJV)

"...but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:15-16/NKJV)

"Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy...." (Revelation 15:4/NKJV)

   A bove is a brief list of some scriptures which show God's holiness and as in the case of God - the Creator of all, there are many scriptures which show this quality of God.  In fact there are too many to be listed here.  I would encourage anyone wanting to study this quality to begin by looking up the scriptures about God's holiness by using the appropriate books** and also using reliable sources**.

*NOTE: for an excellent article on the holiness of God see here.
**NOTE: other sources on the holiness of God;
"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;
Phoenix Nebula
original art by Greg Martin

Sunday, October 16, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

   W e were looking at Luke 5:1-11 starting with the responses of Jesus and Peter, but the responses of Peter and Jesus are only the beginning, if we look at the whole passage we learn two things;
  1. who and what God really is
  2. who and what we really are
   F urthermore if we look at other parts of scripture we get a better understanding of both 1 and 2 above (as well as Luke 5:1-11).  So let us begin by looking at number 1 and asking these questions - who and what?* There are two foundational truths in Luke 5: 1-11 which answer these questions;
  1. Who? = God - Creator of Everything
  2. What? = God is holy
   J ust as there are many other things to see and learn about God in the rest of scripture, so also in this passage - e.g. God is gracious, God is the initiator, God is kind, God is wise, God is the provider, God is almighty, etc. - but it is best to start with these two as they are the foundation to everything else we see and learn from Luke 5: 1-11.  Furthermore, these two go hand in hand, however let's back up and look at where these are shown in Luke 5: 1-11. The first - God - Creator of all - is demonstrated in verses 4 - 7 and 9 - 10a;
"When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, 'Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.' But Simon answered and said to Him, 'Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.' And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink." (Luke 5:4-7/NKJV)

"For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon." (Luke 5:9-10a/NKJV)
   G od - Creator of everything is obviously supported from the beginning of scripture;
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1/NKJV)
and is supported through out scripture;
"So the LORD said to him, 'Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?" (Exodus 4:11/NKJV)

"Then Joshua spoke to the LORD...and he said in the sight of Israel: 'Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.' So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,..." (Joshua 10:12, 13a/NKJV)

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:...'Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?'" (Job 38:1,4a/NKJV)

"O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions—" (Psalm 104:24/NKJV)

The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters. (Psalm 24:1/NKJV)

"Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: 'I am the LORD, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;'..." (Isaiah 44:24/NKJV)

"And He answered and said to them, 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning "made them male and female",...'" (Matthew 19:4a/NKJV see also Mark 10:6)

"And: 'You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.'" (Hebrews 1:10/NKJV)

"By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." (Hebrews 11:3/NKJV)

There are many, many more scriptures that show God - Creator of all that is seen and unseen.  In fact there are too many to be listed here, so let us continue by asking what does all of this have to do with Luke 5:1-11?  It is simply this, after seeing the miracle draught of fish Peter and all those with him realized that somehow God is "in the mix" and as Jews they understood that only God, as Creator of all, not only has authority over the sea and everything in it, but also owns the sea and everything in it.  Consequently, witnessing (firsthand) the miracle draught of fish means (to them) Jesus has the power and authority of God.  It is one of the things which causes Peter to change and call Jesus "Lord" (i.e treating Christ as the representative of the One True Holy God) as opposed to calling Him "Master" (i.e treating Christ as a respected rabbi/teacher).  Furthermore, this response is seen with the others, "For he and all who were with him were astonished...and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee...".  In essence, Peter and all those with Him begin to see Jesus as synonymous with the One True Holy God.
*NOTE; For a very brief explanation of who God is see here.

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

   N ow let us look at Jesus' response;
"And Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.' " (Luke 5:11/NKJV)
   N otice Jesus does not debate the second part of Peters statement; "...for I am a sinful man...", Jesus (being God) knows Peters statement is true so he addresses it by reassuring him with the simple statement "Do not be afraid..."  This is reflective of what the angel said to the shepherds;
"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.'" (Luke 2:10/NKJV)
and what the angels said to Zacharias and Mary;
"But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.'" (Luke 1:13/NKJV)

"Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.'" (Luke 1:30.NKJV)
although in each of those circumstances the angels obviously were/are not God.  However, Jesus is no mere angel, but God in the flesh.  Consequently, He goes beyond the outward and sees Peters heart.  Jesus knows the first part of Peters statement, "Depart from me,..." is not a rejection Him (like the scribes and Pharisees) but rather a response similar to the shepherds, Zacharias, Mary and so many other before Peter (for more information on Peter's response see here, here and see my previous post).  So Peter "falls on his face" and utters the third part of his statement, "...O Lord."  Jesus knows what Peter understands, i.e. when Peter is confronted with his sinfulness Peter cannot stand in the presence of Jesus the representative of the holy, just, righteous and perfect God.  Jesus sees Peter has taken his first step towards God, i.e. an honest admission of his own condition and who Jesus truly is.  At this point, Jesus recognizes Peters admission that God is with Him and that he is God's representative (later Peter will come to the full revelation that Jesus is the one and only God).  However, Jesus not only alleviates Peters fears with the first part of His statement, "Do not be afraid...", but further shows Peter he has nothing to fear by commissioning him, "...from now on you will catch men."  and with the commission Jesus shows God's/His great grace, mercy and kindness.  Again this is reflective of God calling so many others in scripture;
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.' Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.' Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.' And He said, 'Go, and tell this people:'..." (Isaiah 6:5-8/NKJV - see also Genesis 17:1ff, Exodus 3:1ff, Ezekiel 1:28-2:9)

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

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Sunday, October 02, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

Romans 1-3
(New King James Bible)

Chapter 1

1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God
2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures,
3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,
4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,
6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Desire to Visit Rome

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,
10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—
12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.
14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise.
15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.

The Just Live By Faith

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

God's Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Chapter 2
God's Righteous Judgement

1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.
3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”:
7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,
9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;
10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
11 For there is no partiality with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law
13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;
14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

The Jews Guilty as the Gentiles

17 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God,
18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law,
19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.
21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?
22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?
24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.

Circumcision of No Avail

25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?
27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;
29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Chapter 3
God's Judgement Defended

1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?
2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.
3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?
4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:
      “ That You may be justified in Your words,
      And may overcome when You are judged.”
5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.)
6 Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?
7 For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?
8 And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.

All Have Sinned

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
10 As it is written:
      “ There is none righteous, no, not one;
       11 There is none who understands;
      there is none who seeks after God.
       12 They have all turned aside;
      they have together become unprofitable;
      there is none who does good, no, not one.”
       13 “ Their throat is an open tomb;
       with their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
      “ The poison of asps is under their lips”;
       14 “ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
       15 “ Their feet are swift to shed blood;
       16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
       17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
       18 “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

God's Righteousness Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Boasting Excluded

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also,
30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

"Simul iustus et peccator. "*
*Martin Luther

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