Monday, August 27, 2007

Holiness is Wholeness: According to John Gill

Who preceded the great Baptist preacher of the late 1800s, Charles Haddon Spurgeon? It was Pastor John Gill. Spurgeon may have gotten his first hints that holiness is wholeness from his predecessor.

John Gill writes in his A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 1 Chapter 20, Of the Holiness of God:

Holiness is an essential attribute of God; it is his nature and essence; it is himself, he is holiness itself; "he swears by himself, because he can swear by no greater"; and he will not swear by any less, and yet he swears by his holiness, (Heb. 6:13; Ps. 89:35; Amos 4:2, 6:8) which places put [together] and compared together show that the holiness of God is himself; and it has been thought to be not so much a particular and distinct attribute of itself, as the lustre, glory, and harmony of all the rest; and [it] is what is called "the beauty of the Lord", (Ps. 27:4) as it is the beauty of the good angels, and of regenerate men; and, indeed, what is wisdom or knoweldge, without holinesss, but craft and cunning? or what is power, without it, but tyranny, oppression and cruetly? but God is "glorious in holiness", (Ex. 15:11) this gives a lustre to all his perfections , and is the glory of them ; and therefore none of them are or can be exercised in a wrong manner, or to any bad purpose.

So again we have an example of another giant of the faith, in the Protestant tradition, who recognizes that holiness is not a particular attribute, but the harmony of all the rest. In clear words for today, we would say that it is the whole. And who cannot rejoice in Gill's point that holiness prevents any particular attribute from being misused. A wonderful insight by him and something to consider before we accuse a whole God of any wrongdoing.

In Christ,

Pastor Jon

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Holiness is Wholeness: According to Martin Luther

I like how one great pastor put it: "Luther needs no trumpteter." He meant that everyone has heard of Martin Luther. Yet not everyone has heard his views on holiness or sanctification. Here is one popular expression of his view from Edward W. A. Koehler in A Summary of Christian Doctrine. He says on page 155:


The word "sanctication" is sometimes used in a wider sense, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:13: "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." The term here comprehends the entire work of the Holy Ghost, by which He leads the sinner unto eternal life. However, it is also used in a narrower sense, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:3: "This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication" etc. Here the term evidently refers only to that part or phase of the Spirit's work, by which He incites and directs believers to live a godly life.

A couple of notes on Koehler's quote. First, note the "wider sense" of holiness as being a word that "comprehends the entire." Stopping right there you see the concept of wholeness in other English words. Then in the "narrower sense" you see that it "refers only to that part or phase." Stopping right there you see the concept of part.

So we can at least see some notion of wholeness in Luther and in the tradition that follows him. It now is our job to clear up this notion of holiness even more. We have to continue reforming in this tradition.

In Christ,

Pastor Jon Westlund