Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: God Is Holy!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

God Is Holy!

“1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:1-8).

In Revelation 4:2, we are told that John was “in the spirit.” I believe this means that John was taken out of this physical, temporal world (existence) and taken into the spiritual realm of God’s eternal existence, which is presently invisible to us. This is real. It is not science fiction.

In Revelation 4:2-3, we are given one of the most spectacular visions of heaven anywhere in the Bible. For us to appreciate this in its fullest sense we must let our imaginations escape the temporal confinements of our own time and space. We must move our minds outside of the boundaries of earth into the spiritual realm of heavenly things. We must allow God to open a door to our spiritual blindness as He paints a portrait in words of Himself in all of His glory. Here He is in the realm of holiness and righteousness. Here He is in the dwelling place of millions of angels. Here we see God as He is and where He lives. In this portion of Scripture, God is taking us into His living room and giving us a glimpse of His glory.

This Throne is beyond this earth. It is beyond this universe. It is probably another dimension of existence. Somewhere, beyond all that we might imagine, is a place called heaven. At the center of this place, outside of time and space, is the place where God dwells and where His Throne is. The spiritual realm of God is not out their somewhere. We know that the Word of God says He is omnipresent. Therefore, the spiritual realm occupies the same time as we do and the same space, it is just not visible to us.

“15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (II Kings 6:15-17).

This is all beyond the wildest extremes of science fiction and human imagination because it is not fiction. It is reality. Spherically around this Throne, suspended in space is something that appears like an emerald colored rainbow (Revelation 4:3). We are not told how far this emerald sphere extends from the Throne at its center, but it probably extends for billions of miles. It may in fact fill the universe. What is this emerald sphere? According to Ezekiel 1:28 what God is revealing to him is the God’s radiant glory. God’s glory is the visible essence of all of God’s attributes. We express this gory in human terms by the words glow or shine.

“26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. 27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. 28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (Ezekiel 1:26-28).

Ezekiel 1:26 tells us that upon what appeared to be a Throne there was a Being Who appeared to be like a man. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God created man in His image. Yet God is not a man. He is God.

Can we imagine such a Being as this? Can we comprehend a Being Whose very existence outshines the stars of our whole universe. Can we imagine a Being Whose Holiness and Truth is visibly seen through the means of His radiant glory? In this realm of existence, there is no darkness that His glory does not fill with light. There are no shadows or shades of gray. There is no place where His visible essence does not fill. Yet, today, we are blinded to His presence and blinded to the glory of His holy radiance.

“5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house” (Isaiah 42:5-7).

Heaven is heaven because God is there. Without Him it would be just another place. The distinguishing characteristic of Heaven is the presence of God. This is where believers will live one day. Not just in the place called heaven, but in the presence of God called heaven. Oh, that will be glory! Every person in the world will see exactly what John describes in Revelation 4:1-11. This Throne is the seat of the Sovereign of the Universe.

God’s glory is the visible radiant essence of holiness. It is holiness that can be seen. Sin has blinded humanity to this visible reality of God’s essence. It is apparent that this spherical radiance surrounding the Throne like a rainbow is the radiant glory of The Almighty God, like a giant, transparent, emerald ball surrounding the Throne. It is here because God in His glory is upon His Throne. This radiant glory of God is the visible essence of what the Bible calls “eternal life.” It is the life force of God. It is the visible essence of His attributes.

What we see in Revelation 4:1-8 is the visible reality of God called eternal life to which the Cherubim of Heaven unceasingly describe with the proclamation, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

My purpose in bringing us to this vision of the radiant glory of God’s holiness and eternal life, is to reveal what God means when He commands His children to be holy. It is through a believer’s personal holiness that is glorified (revealed in this world).

“15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:15-16).

This is what Christian growth is all about. This is what the doctrine of sanctification is all about. Spiritual growth is about becoming like God. It is about looking like God, talking like God, living like God and seeing the world like God sees the world. Christian growth is growing in holiness. Christian growth is working to become more like God everyday and less like the world. Christian growth is about eradicating the darkness of worldly thinking and practices and irradiating the world by replacing our worldly thinking and practices with godly thinking and practices.

This will not happen by accident. This is spiritual work and spiritual warfare. However, it is not work that can be done in the power of the flesh. It is work that must be done in co-operation (“fellowship,” i.e., partnership with God).

Secondly, this work of spiritual growth cannot (and will not) happen apart from the Word of God. If you will not make the effort to learn the depths of the Word of God, you will never come to the knowledge of the depths of Who God is.

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

Spiritual growth was Christ’s high priestly prayer for His disciples in the last hours before they would come to take Him away to be crucified. It was His intercessory priority then and, we can be assured, it is His intercessory priority today. Jesus wants His disciples to grow to be like Him

Sanctification is spiritual growth unto holiness. Change (growth) will result only when the Word of God is read, understood and obeyed “from the heart.”

“16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:16-17).

Becoming holy will not happen by praying for it. Becoming holy will not happen by reading about holiness. Becoming holy will not happen by going to church or even by trying to keep the Ten Commandments. Spiritual growth is not about pursuing holiness. Spiritual growth is about turning from a pursuit of worldly fame, fortune or pleasures. Spiritual growth is about pursuing God. That is what the words “from the heart” mean in Romans 6:17. That is what God means in Deuteronomy chapter 6 when He says:

“4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6).

Until this becomes a reality of our lives as Christians, we will never grow spiritually. We will never seek holiness in our lives, because to pursue after God is the insatiable desire to be like Him. The central motivating factor for everything a professing believer does in this life ought to be his relationship with the Lord. There ought to be a driving desire to know His Word because to know His Word is to know Him Who is to know life eternal.

The believer has the “light” of God’s glory restored within Him in the Person of the Holy Spirit the moment he is saved (regenerated). That “light” is released into the darkness of sin when the believer begins to separate himself from the worldliness of his old life (“put off”) and begins to obey the Word of God “from the heart” as enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

This is the struggle in Christian growth. We want to have all the blessings of being a Christian. We want to see souls saved (as least we say we do). The struggle in most part lies within our own souls. The struggle is that we love “darkness.”

“19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).

Let’s be honest, if we really loved the Lord the way we like to think we do, things would be a lot different wouldn’t they? We love the pleasures of sin. Until we begin to honestly deal with that, we will never grow. Until we begin to deal with that, we will never have the commitment necessary to know God, to talk like God, to live like God or to see the world like God sees the world. This must become the motivating force behind everything we do. We must be driven by the desire to be what God wants us to be.

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