Holy, Holy, Holy–Lord God Almighty!

When we think about God there’s so much that’s beyond our human minds to grasp—for that which is finite can never explain the Infinite (1 Timothy 3:16).  We, the created, can’t (as much as we want) ‘be as God’ (Rom. 3:23). The fact that our Creator has revealed any information at all about Himself to mankind is the most wonderful thing (Psalm 8:4). Through God’s creation and His inspired Word He’s allowed us glimpses into understanding a bit of Who He is (Rom. 1:18-20, 1 Cor. 2:9-11, John 1:14, Heb. 1:1-3, Psalm 93, 97, 99, Isaiah 6:1-3).

                What a vision the prophet Isaiah was allowed to see of the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. The train of God’s robe filled the temple. Seraphim were above Him crying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” The posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.” Isaiah’s response was, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6). The apostle John (by the power of the Spirit) viewed the Lord’s brilliance, causing him to fall at His feet as dead (Revelation 1:1-18).  He beheld God’s throne room in heaven and witnessed a vision similar to Isaiah where four living creatures were in the midst of the throne and around it saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4). Hymn writer, Reginald Heber in 1827 wrote the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” after being inspired by this portion of Scripture. The popular chorus goes, “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty… Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!” Holy, holy, holy is a three-fold unit. One of God’s most perplexing aspects for our finite minds to comprehend is that He is triune (three in one). In 1 John 5:7 it says, “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.” Throughout the Bible there are references to this triune God. In Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our own image after our likeness.”  In Genesis 11:7, “Let us go down.” The Word was in the beginning with God and in Him all things were created (John 1:1-3, Col. 1:16). Christ is the image of the invisible God —the express image of His person (Col. 1:13, Heb. 1:3).  In Numbers 6:24-26 we see a three-fold blessing: (1) The LORD, Jehovah, the Father, the source of all blessing (Eph. 1:3, Heb. 10:7); (2) The LORD, Jehovah the Son, the channel of all blessing (Eph. 1:3, Acts 3:25, Heb. 10:8); (3) The LORD, Jehovah the Spirit, the witness of all blessing (Heb. 10:7, 10, 15). 

                Our triune God is not only Holy, righteous, and just, but (thankfully) He’s also loving and merciful.

God didn’t want man to be alone so He created a counterpart, woman, for him (Gen. 2:18-24). God communed with man directly prior to the fall. Once sin entered in God, being merciful, provided humankind with a way to temporarily cover their sin through the blood sacrifice of an animal (Gen. 3:21). “…Without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). He instituted the Passover for His people, the Israelites, while they were captive in Egypt (Ex. 12, Heb. 11:28). He commanded Moses to build a moveable tabernacle (‘tent of meeting’) so He could dwell, have fellowship, and communicate with them after their exodus from Egypt. The Lord laid out the steps for the tabernacle in purposeful detail so that a sinful people could approach a holy God. This special place was divided up into three basic sections, partitioned by special curtains: the Court, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. The Most Holy Place (or the Holy of Holies) contained The Ark of the Covenant (which contained the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments given by God, a jar of manna, and Aaron’s rod). Only the high priest could enter this area and only once a year (on the Day of Atonement) where he would enter and sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat to atone for the sins of all the people. This continued for 400 years until King Solomon built the temple. These systems were only temporary and never permanently took away their sins, but when the perfect, unblemished Lamb of God came, He would (Heb. 9:24-26. 10:19-21, John 1:29, 2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Pet. 1:19).  For believers today, it’s all God’s gift of grace that one only needs to receive through faith (Eph. 2:4-9, Col. 1:12-14). 

Salvation has been carefully constructed for us by God the Father— sacrificially carried out by God the Son — and powerfully worked in by God the Spirit. It’s been secured by the Father’s eternal love— the Son’s redeeming work— and by the Spirit’s regenerating power.

                                Our posture to our Holy, triune God, should not be found in ourselves.

                Jesus directed the parable in Luke 18:9-14 to ‘some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others’. He made the comparison between a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed, “God, I thank You, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as the tax collector.” The tax collector, who was standing from afar said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus ended saying, “I tell you; this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” It’s truly in realizing who we are in relation to our Holy triune God that we’re able to receive His amazing grace and respond to His revealed Word and be powerfully transformed (2 Cor. 12:9-10, Phil. 2:9-11).

                There are ‘other spirits’ who would desire to control us (Eph. 6:12, 2 Cor. 11:3-4).

                Another puzzlement to our limited minds is the mystery of lawlessness. God uses all things for His own purposes and while we may not understand it all now, we will someday (Prov. 16:4-6, 2 Thess. 2:7-12). In the meanwhile, this present world lies in wickedness—in the wicked one (The god of this world, the prince of the power of the air) (1 John 2:16, 5:19, John 14:30, 2 Cor. 4:4, Eph. 2:2). It wasn’t enough that Lucifer was the anointed cherub in God’s holy mount. His desire to be God and his pride in believing he could lead to his fall (Isa. 14:12-14, Ezek. 28:11-19). After his fall he only honed his deceptive methods. One only has to look at how he tempted Eve in the garden. He masterfully misquoted and took God’s Word out of context. He also planted seeds of doubt so that she would question God’s Word, and lastly, he tricked her into believing the lie that she and Adam could be as gods (Gen. 3:1-5, 1 Tim. 2:14). The truth is the devil is an accuser, compulsive liar, murderer, devourer, and tempter—the antithesis of God (Rev. 12:10, John 8:44, 1 Peter 5:8, Matt. 4:3). He will stop at nothing to stir up the fallen nature of men and women by tantalizing their flesh through its lusts (2 Cor. 10:3-4, Eph. 2:3, 2 Pet. 2:18).

                Our society has been inundated with all that’s unholy.

                The trail of rotten fruit that’s been littered throughout our fallen world by those who’ve turned away from God’s truth and righteousness is devasting (Rom. 1:18-32). At the recent Grammy Awards, a musical duo that won Best Pop Duo or Group Performance sang their song, “Unholy” with lewd lyrics and lascivious gyrations, and images to match. The perversion of God’s design and purpose of marriage, male and female gender roles, etc. have become obvious and should come as no surprise for those who know God’s Word as the Scriptures tell us, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power“ (2 Tim. 3:1-5).

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7-9). God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by His Son, Who He ordained to do so (See John 16:7-11, Acts 17:31, Rom. 1:18-32, Rev. 19:11-16).

Even so, the Lord is ever longsuffering and desires that all men and women be saved and come to the knowledge of truth (1 Tim. 2:4, 2 Pet. 3:9)—but the window of this present dispensation of grace is narrowing.

                In the meantime, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution while evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim. 3:12-13). Believers today must live soberly, righteously, and godly, receiving their strength in the grace of God while rejecting ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:1-4, 2 Tim. 2:1, 3). So, stand strong in Almighty God for greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Although our outward self is perishing, our inward self is being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:17). We will endure evil as our mind is upward and we’re filled with the Spirit, making melody in our hearts to the Lord, (Eph. 5:18-21). Better things DO await us! So, keep your heart directed toward an attitude of patient anticipation of Christ’s second coming. It’s then that He’ll appear in glory and do away with all unholiness and set all things right. Hallelujah!


Knowing God–Is it Possible?

                How do we get to know someone—anyone? 

I think the artist Georgia O’Keefe was on to something when she said, “Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

It takes time to really get to know someone. Through time spent really listening to someone we can learn a lot about the things that they’re most passionate about, what matters most to them, and the things they may not like or even hate. We can learn about someone’s true character the longer we spend time with them. But can we ever truly and fully know someone? The only One who can truly know us is our Creator God Himself (Ps. 139).

                How do we get to know God?

So if only God, our Creator, can truly know us, how are we expected to know Him? Romans 1:19-20 says that “what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world God’s 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.” It’s true that when we take time to really look, study, and ponder what God has created we can learn something about Him and His eternal power. But even in this, we are limited as our senses of smell, hearing, and eyesight are dependent on the proximity of things.  So how can we know God, Who is invisible and seems far from us? (Acts. 17:27, Ephesians 3:18)

                                God has provided the gift of knowing Him through the revelation of His Word. The full knowledge of God is revealed and found only in the person of Jesus Christ. “For God Who commanded light to shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Christ the Son is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person (Heb. 1:3, John 1:1-2, 14). Only in the person of the Living Word and in the pages of the written Word can we come to know God. We can’t acquire the knowledge of a complex, triune God by our limited human reasoning any more than by our limited human senses. As an infinite God He can never fully reveal Himself to finite beings. In revealing Himself at all to us He has to condescend to the level that we have the capacity to understand. In God’s written Word He uses figures of speech called anthropopatheia that speak of Himself as a man so that we can comprehend something beyond our limited capabilities. When He speaks of His “nostrils”, His “bosom”, His “repenting”, or other human actions it’s used to help us understand an idea of reality. It’s the same when God speaks of Himself in three modes of being as Father, Son, and Spirit. Each display different activities yet are connected as one. Throughout God’s Word we see how the whole Godhead is revealed and engaged in gaining and attaining the access of all His children to Himself. 

Salvation is created FOR us by the WILL of God the Father (the Source).

                It is brought TO us by the WORK of God the Son (the Channel).

                It is realized IN us and secured for us by the WITNESS of God the Holy Spirit (the Conveyor).

Without the work of Christ the will of the Father would not have been done for us. Without the witness of the Spirit the Father’s grace would not have been known by us (Eph. 2:18). It’s only through God’s Spirit that man or woman can comprehend the thoughts of God. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). It’s the one who trusts in Christ (after hearing the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation) and believes. They become sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (the Guarantor of their inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession) (Ephesians 1:13-14). It’s only through the Spirit from God that one might know the things freely given to them by God (1 Cor. 2:12, Eph. 1:17-21, Phil. 3:10). This includes God’s love—”to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). It’s the Spirit’s direction that’s essential to the knowledge of the love of God (Rom. 5:5). It’s in Christ alone that this love can be experienced (not based on anything from us) (Rom. 5:8, Eph. 2:4-9). As the Spirit directs the believer’s heart into the love of the Father, the true measure of this love is comprehended (Eph. 3:18). We also learn that it’s a love that’s here to stay (Rom. 8:38-39).

Though we might not be able to understand fully or even explain fully, we are by grace empowered to believe and experience what God has revealed. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Cor. 13:12). The last use of the word ‘know’ in this verse means to fully know (Greek epignosis). This means to know thoroughly and accurately—to recognize. The same meaning of ‘knowledge’ in Ephesians 1:17, and Colossians 1:9 is used in the prayers of the Apostle Paul for believers to be ‘given the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” and to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” To recognize someone and know them thoroughly and accurately requires an investment of time. What an opportunity to know our loving Creator, Savior, and Renewer! Faith is built each moment spent in His Word and those who diligently seek Him out are rewarded (Rom. 10:17, Heb. 11:6). We’d be foolish to not take advantage of the opportunity to develop the healthiest relationship we’ll ever have. So turn off the TV and set your phone, devices, and any other distractions aside. Open up God’s Word and get to know Him better. There’s no wiser use of your time than to know and enjoy God (Phil. 3:8, 1 Tim. 4:7-10).

“May the LORD, the Spirit, direct your hearts into the love of GOD, the Father, and into the patience of CHRIST, the Son” (2 Thess. 3:5). And we all need the patience of Christ in the evil times that we live in (Eph. 5:16).

Patiently waiting for His glorious appearing, Laura    (Lam. 3:25-26, Titus 2:13)