THE TERROR OF THE HOLY

Theology doesn’t always figure very high on our agenda with regards to spiritual growth. We don’t seem to be rushing out to buy the latest theological book as eager as we get the latest trendy Christian bestseller. Neither do we book in early on a conference that has a theological emphasis as quickly as we would book for a conference with a revival focus (not that the two subjects are mutually exclusive).

Theology seems to be somehow daunting and better left to the experts – and in ‘Christianese’ that means anyone else but me. As much as we would want to ignore and run away from it – theology is important. In its simplest form it means thinking and learning about God and His character – and that is absolutely fundamental to our spiritual growth as disciples of Jesus.

But there is one particular theological aspect about God’s character that I want us to consider – God’s holiness and the way it affects our lives. My thinking was provoked and my heart was stirred by stumbling across something the late spiritual maverick, Mike Yaconelli writes this in his book Dangerous Wonder (Navpress, 1998):

‘I began to wonder whether we modern followers of Christ are capable of being terrified of God. What happened to the bone-chilling, earth-shattering, gut-wrenching, knee-knocking, heart stopping, life-altering fear that leavers us speechless, paralysed, helpless and glad? The terror I am speaking about is a mix of wonder, awe, fear and worship, all happening at the same time. We have ended with a feel good gospel that attracts thousands… but transforms no one.’

Remember Isaiah’s awesome experience (Isaiah 6) of encountering the Holy God in the Temple. I thought that an encounter with the Holy God would cause a great knees-up party style worship… After the description of the encounter I was surprised by Isaiah’s reaction – holy fear (v.5). Should that make us paranoid and afraid? By no means… The Holy God is the same God that through Jesus repeatedly greeted people with the words ‘do not fear’. Yet, whenever we approach a Holy God in worship we must remember that he is the Holy One that deserves all the honour, praise and glory!

This was followed by a revelation of sinfulness – both on an individual level as well as national (the chronology being very significant). And this was the reaction of a prophet, one that was dedicated to serving God in a radical way… God’s holiness exposes all that is still sinful in us. But let’s remember that the Holy God is the agent of cleansing and the source of hope too. We must never forget that a Holy God desires a Holy people who surrender their lives to Him and live with a desire to be salt and light!

Isaiah’s experience wasn’t just a ‘refreshing’ – it was a life-changing encounter. His heart and mind were transformed. And that was for a purpose – God had a mission for him. And the Holy God made sure that Isaiah was fully equipped for that task! Any awesome encounters we experience with a Holy God – they are not just for our own benefit. They should encourage us to look upward (faith) and outward (love) with a desire to let those around us be introduced to this amazing Holy God we serve!

If I have managed to whet your appetite go and download RC Sproul’s – The Holiness of God for free from – http://christianaudio.com/free. It is an absolute Top 10 in my library.

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