Friday, May 25, 2007

Holiness is Wholeness: According to a Rather Long List of Greats

Here is a list of famous quotations by Christians and Jewish scholars which show that they were convinced that holiness is wholeness. It will be added to as often as I am able. Check back, at least every month, for new quotes that I have discovered. I will also try to provide reference material for those who want to research things further.

"What does this word holiness really mean? Is it a negative kind of piety from which so many people have shied away? No, of course not! Holiness in the Bible means moral wholeness -- a positive quality which actually includes kindness, mercy, purity, moral blamelessness and godliness." A. W. Tozer, I Call it Heresy, p. 63.

"As we have often said, holiness means wholeness of character in contradistinction to the cultivation of some few virtues and the neglect of others." C. H. Spurgeon, "Solomon's Plea," Sermon #1232. vol. 21

Psa. 96:9. - "The beauty of holiness." Shall I call holiness an attribute? Is it not rather the glorious combination of all his attributes into one perfect whole? As all his attributes proceed from the absolute, so all again converge and meet in holiness. As from the insufferable white light of the Absolute they all seem to diverge and separate into prismatic lives, so they all seem again to coverge and meet and combine in the dazzling white radiance of his holiness. This, therefore, is rather the intense whiteness, purity, clearness, the infitnite lustre and splendour of his perfect nature - like a gem without flaw, without stain, and without colour. All of his attributes are glorious, but in this we have a combination of all into a still more glorious whole. It is for this reason that it is so frequently in Scripture assocaitaed with the Divine beauty. The poetic nature of the psalmist is exalted to ecstasy in contemplation of the "beauty of holines," the "beauty of the Lord." Beauty is a combination of elements according to the laws of harmony; the more beautiful the parts or elements, and the more perfect the harmonious combination, the higher the beauty. How high and glorious, therefore, must be the beauty of this attribute which is the perfect combination of all his infinite perfections!

You see, then, why this attribute is awful to us. In the ideal man all the faculties and powers, mental, moral, and bodily, work together in perfect harmony, making sweet music - the image of God is clear and pure in the human heart. But, alas! How far we are from the ideal! - Joseph Le Coute, Religion and Science, 1874.

Psa. 97:12 "And we give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness" - which is the harmony of all his attributes, the superlative wholeness of his character. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David. Pilgrim Publications: Texas, p. 356.

Psa. 99:5 "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord god of Sabaoth!" Holiness is the harmony of all virtues. The Lord has not one glorious attribute alone, or in excess, but all glories are in him as a whole; this is the crown of his honour and the honour of his crown. His powe ris not his choicest jewel, nor his sovereignty, but his holiness. In this all comprehensive moral excellence he would have his creatures take delight, .... C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David. Pilgrim Publications: Texas, p. 387.

Ps. 103:1 .... It is instructive to note how the pslamist dwells upon the holy name of God, as if his holiness were dearest to him; or, perhaps, because the holiness or wholeness of God was to his mind the grandest motive for rendering to him the homage of his nature in its wholeness. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David. Pilgrim Publications: Texas, p. 448.

"... holiness is not so much an attribute, but the `whole complex of that which we are wont to look at and represent singly in the individual attributes of God.' " Andrew Murray, Holy in Christ, Christian Focus Publications, Gennies House, Great Britain, 1998, p. 210.

"[Johann] Bengel looked upon holiness as the divine nature, in which all the attributes are contained." Andrew Murray, Holy in Christ, Christian Focus Publications, Gennies House, Great Britain, 1998, p. 210.

In God holiness can never improve in any sense, because his knowledge is already infinite. Holiness in man expresses the whole of moral excellence. So in God it may express the whole of his moral excellence, and is properly styled an attribute only in the largest sense of that term, or in the same sense in which benevolence may be styled an attribute of God. God is called light. His moral attributes viewed separately are like prismatic colors. When combined they are an ineffable blaze of holiness. In other words, the holiness of God when considered as embracing his whole moral perfection, is a moral light, so ineffably intense as that the highest intelligences in the universe are represented in the Bible as unable to behold it without veiling their faces.

That holiness is purity or moral perfection, is proved by the following facts:

1. That the Bible represents holiness as the contrast of defilement or pollution.
2. That whatever was to be set apart, or consecrated to God, and considered as sanctified, must be physically perfect. Any blemish or imperfection was inconsistent with its being sanctified.
3. The Bible represents holiness as the opposite of sin. Charles Finney, Lecture XV.
Moral Attributes---No. 6.

"... the whole complex of which we are wont to look at and represent singly in the individual attributes of God." Johann Bengel

"Holiness is intellectual beauty. Divine holiness is the most perfect beauty, and the measure of all other. The divine Holiness is the most perfect pluchritude, the ineffable and immortal pulchritude, that cannot be declared by words, or seen by eyes. This may therefore be called the transcendental attribute that, as it were, runs through the rest, and casts a glory upon every one. It is an attribute of attributes. " Rev. John Howe

"Holiness comprehends all the true moral excellence of intelligent beings. So the holiness of God is the same with the moral excellency of the divine nature, comprehending all his perfections, his righteousness, faithfulness, and goodness." Jonathan Edwards

Holiness is, however, not a distinctive attribute, but rather the combination of all the attributes. We may suppose a being in whom there may be love without justice, or truth, or any one of these to the exclusion of the other two; but no being can be holy, who does not combine in himself all of these , and all other moral perfections. Nor, when we have such a combination, is there anything to be added to constitute holy character. It is evident therefore, that holiness is the sum of all excellence and the combination of all the attributes which constitute perfection of character. James Boyce's Abstract of Systematic Theology, Chapter 10

"... habitual, that holiness wherewith our souls are inwardly endued the same instant when first we begin to be temples of the Holy Spirit; [1 Cor. 3:16f; 6:19] actual, that holiness which afterward beautifieth all the parts and actions of our life, the holiness for which Enoch, Job, Zachary, Elizabeth, and other saints are in Scriptures so highly commended [see Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5; Job 1:8; Lk. 1:5f]." Richard Hooker, A Learned Discourse of Justification, A Sermon of Richard Hooker.

163. What is the work of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit sanctifies me, that is, He makes me holy, by bringing me to faith in Christ and by imparting to me the blessings of redemption. (Sanctification in the wider sense includes everything that the Holy Spirit does in me.) 419 But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor. 6:11 .... 169. What else has the Holy Spirit worked in you by the Gospel? The Holy Spirit has sanctified me in the true faith, that is, He has by faith in Christ renewed my heart, so that I can now overcome sin and do good works. (Sanctification in the narrower sense.) 439 This is the will of Gd, even your sanctification. 1 Thess. 4:3. Martin Luther, Luther's Small Catechism, p. 125-129.

"Our survey [of the best minds of the church] has led us to the place where we must define holiness as more than a mere attribute of God, and accept it as the sum of all His attribtues, the outshining of all that God is. It means that as the sun's rays, containing all the colours of the spectrum, come together in the sun's shining and blend into light, so all the attributes of God come together in His self-manifestation and blend into holiness." R. A. Finlayson, The Holiness of God (check this out on the web).

As I said, more will be added. But this last one by Finlayson is worth meditating on because it sums up so much said by great Christians and adds to it a direct illusion to the Hebrew root for holiness. He combines the intelligence of the church with the intelligence of our natural understanding of light. It will be hard to beat as a summary.

In Christ,

Pastor Jon Westlund

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Holiness is Wholeness: According to What is Needed Right Now!

I can't say it better than Martin Luther why holiness is wholeness matters so much at the present time. He once said:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the
truth of God except precisely that little point that the world and the devil are
at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be
professing Christ. Where the battle rages fiercely is where the loyalty of the
soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is merely flight
and disgrace, if he flinches at that point.

I am concerned that the church is doing many needed things well without doing the one thing needful. Please pray that holiness is wholeness is seen as the major emphasis needed. May God bless those who follow Him.

In Christ,

Pastor Jon