How Low Did our Savior Go?

John Flavel helps us to understand the indescribable love of Jesus Christ, a love that moved Him to humble Himself beyond all creaturely imagination…

john-flavelFor the sun to fall from its sphere, and be degraded into a wandering atom; for an angel to be turned out of heaven, and be converted into a silly fly or worm, had been no such great abasement; for they were but creatures before, and so they would abide still, though in an inferior order or species of creatures. The distance between the highest and lowest species of creatures, is but a finite distance. The angel and the worm dwell not so far asunder. But for the infinite glorious Creator of all things, to become a creature, is a mystery exceeding all human understanding. The distance between God and the highest order at creatures, is an infinite distance. He is said to humble himself; to behold the things that are done in heaven. What a humiliation then is it, to behold the things in the lower world! but to be born into it, and become a man! Great indeed is the mystery of godliness. “Behold, (says the prophet, Isa. 40:15, 18) the nations are as the drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance; he takes up she isles as a very little thing. All nations before him are as nothing, and they are accounted to him less than nothing, and vanity.” If, indeed, this great and incomprehensible Majesty will himself stoop to the state and condition of a creature, we may easily believe, that being once a creature, he would expose him to hunger, thirst, shame, spitting, death, or anything but sin. For that once being a man, he should endure any of these things, is not so wonderful, as that he should become a man. This was the low step, a deep abasement indeed!

…although He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6–8)

Hearing and Learning but Never Responding

To stand before the people of God with the book of God in order to communicate the will of God is a very dangerous thing. James, the half-brother of Jesus, who had become a pillar in the early church, wrote in the third chapter of his letter,

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)

It’s no small thing to handle the truth of God, seeing that those who do so will be judged with greater strictness.

At the same time, it’s no small thing for people to hear the truth of God. In Micah 6:8, the prophet said,

[God] has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah understood that when God speaks, man is obligated to respond appropriately. In Deuteronomy 10:12-13, after God lays down His law the second time, Moses says to the people,

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?

In other words, “Israel, now that God has spoken, now that you know what He requires, you’re required to act and respond to Him accordingly.” When God speaks, and you hear, you become responsible and accountable. Our Lord Jesus taught this same principle. He said,

And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Luke 12:47-48)

Knowledge without appropriate action is a serious thing:

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17)

This has massive implications for you and I. What are you doing with what you hear and learn as you sit under the preaching of God’s Word? You may sit and take notes during the sermon, but is the truth ever written upon your heart, to the point that it overflows through your life? Do you sit before the teaching of the Word of God the same way you sit before the television or a musical performance, just to be entertained for a bit? It seems that what happened in Ezekiel’s day is happening in our day, and has actually become the normal church experience for thousands of people. God said to Ezekiel,

As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. (Ezekiel 33:30–32)

God help us from falling into this deadly snare of hearing and learning but never responding!

What Is Zeal, and Do You Have It?

A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed-up in one thing — and that one thing is to please God.

Whether he lives — or whether he dies;
whether he has health — or whether he has sickness;
whether he is rich — or whether he is poor;
whether he pleases man — or whether he gives 
offense;
whether he is thought wise — or whether he is thought foolish;
whether he gets blame — or whether he gets praise;
whether he gets honor, or whether he gets shame

— for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing — and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory. If he is consumed in the very burning — he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn, and if consumed in burning — he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, and work, and give money — he will cry, and sigh, and pray. Yes, if he is only a pauper, on a perpetual bed of sickness — he will make the wheels of sin around him drive heavily, by continually interceding against it. If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua — then he will do the prayer-work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill. (Ex. 17:9-13.) If he is cut off from working himself — he will give the Lord no rest until help is raised up from another quarter, and the work is done. This is what I mean when I speak of “zeal” in religion.

-J. C. Ryle

Immanuel (God With Us)

If the Lord Jesus is merely a man and not God, Paul would not have said,

Paul, an apostle – not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:1)

If the Lord Jesus is merely God and not a man, Paul would not have said,

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)

If the Lord Jesus is merely an angel and not God, as the Watchtower cult says, God the Father would not have said to Him,

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. (Hebrews 1:8)

Because only God is worthy of worship, God the Father would not have said,

Let all God’s angels worship Him. (Hebrews 1:6)

But because the Lord Jesus is “God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever,” as the Shorter Catechism says,  John said,

…the Word was God…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:1, 14)

The Two Sides of Man’s Sin Problem

THE TWO SIDES OF MAN’S SIN PROBLEM

Sin is the ultimate and only problem of humanity. But this “sin problem” has two distinct aspects—one internal and the other external.

The Internal Problem—A Bad Heart

According to the Lord Jesus Christ, man himself is corrupt and vile. “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23). This is the condition of every human heart, apart from Christ. If a motion picture of even our past thoughts, let alone our past actions, were to be played on a large screen before our family and acquaintances, every one of us would run from the room in shame. Every non-Christian is—in his person—more repulsive to a holy God than he can ever begin to imagine.

But man’s problem with sin is even deeper than this. Suppose that by some miracle, the sinner could become a new person and never sin again for the rest of his life. He would still most certainly go to hell. The routine murderer who sincerely decides never to murder again must still pay for his past crimes. In other words, man’s problem with sin has another dimension besides the internal. Man not only has a bad heart; he also has a bad record in the eyes of God’s law.

The External Problem—A Bad Record

Every sinner is a fugitive from justice. Regardless of the present condition of his heart, he has objective guilt, outside himself, in the eyes of God’s law. He may not have any “guilt feelings,” but he stands “guilty” or “condemned,” nevertheless. All his past crimes cry out for their penalty to be paid and justice to be satisfied. This cry is anchored in the very character and being of God, in His attribute of justice or equity.

It is because of the sense of equity or justice that God has written deep within the human heart that we feel immediate moral outrage when the perpetrator of a crime is allowed to go unpunished. Why is it wrong for the rapist-murderer to receive only a ten- dollar fine? We cannot prove that he deserves more, but we know that he does. This inescapable knowledge within us is something more foundational and certain than any theoretical “proof.” It is something absolutely basic to the human constitution—a reflection of God’s very nature.

Much could be said about God’s attribute of justice, especially in this day when the very concept of justice seems to be almost lost in society at large. There are three basic reasons why a crime should be punished: First, for the satisfaction of justice (i.e., because crimes deserve to be punished and ought to be punished); second, for the good of society (i.e., for the prevention of further crime); and third, for the good of the offender (i.e., to cause him to change his ways). Of these three, the satisfaction of justice is primary and foundational to the other two. If the punishment for a crime is not itself just and deserved, it will neither deter future crime nor reform the offender.

In our day, the primary and foundational reason for punish- ment—the satisfaction of justice—has been almost completely suppressed and denied. Only the second and third reasons remain, and these have been reversed in importance. The “reform” of the offender is now primary, and prisons are no longer called prisons, but “correctional facilities.” Even those who still believe that crime must be punished for the good of society maintain that murderers should be sentenced, not because they have murdered, but only in order to prevent future murders. Such a philosophy is wicked and false, and is based on the lie that men and women are not truly responsible for their actions.

It is not difficult to understand how this state of affairs has come about. Because men want to be God themselves (1 Genesis 3:4-5), they hate the thought of a sovereign Lawgiver to whom they must give an account. They seek to suppress the inescapable knowledge of God that is around and within them (Romans 1:18), and say instead that there is no God (Psalm 10:4; 14:1; 53:1). This denial of God’s existence makes it easier for them to pretend that there is no such thing as right and wrong. Instead of being guilty sinners, men and women are viewed as helpless victims of their circumstances. In such a setting, punishment in order to satisfy justice becomes unthinkable. Man is free to do as he pleases and answers to no one.

But no matter how much men may try to suppress it, there is still an indelible knowledge in the human heart that right and wrong are real (Romans 2:14-16), that men are responsible for their wrongdoing, and that sin deserves to be punished (Romans 1:32). Deep down, all men know that the scales of justice must be balanced at last (Acts 28:4). If you are not a Christian and are reading these lines, the scales of justice are very unbalanced in your life even now, and you can be certain—on the basis of God’s very being and just character—that if you continue in your present condition, He will never rest or relent until you are in hell. The whole moral fabric of the universe would collapse if He did not put you in hell.

It is in this context that the Bible speaks of the “wrath of God.” God’s wrath is not a temporary loss of self-control or a selfish fit of emotion. It is His holy, white-hot hatred of sin, the reaction and revulsion of His holy nature against all that is evil. God’s wrath is tied in directly with His justice. It has to do with His righteous determination to punish every sin, to balance the scales of justice, and to make every wrong right. That is why the wrath of God “abides on” every unbeliever (John 3:36). The more men persist in sin, the more they are “storing up wrath for themselves in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5). God’s wrath will eventually be “poured out”; He is a righteous judge and will not allow sin to go unpunished forever.

-Charles Leiter, Justification & Regeneration (pp. 21-23)

Keep Them “in Your Name”

In working my way through the gospel of John, I sought to get to really understand what it means to be kept in the Father’s name. Jesus prays for this very thing in John 17:11:

“Holy Father, keep them in your name…”

I sought to show in this sermon that “the name of the Father” is synonymous with the truth Jesus revealed from the Father. So, in praying that His people would be kept in the Father’s name, Jesus was essentially asking His Father to keep His people within the boundaries of the truth that Jesus proclaimed to His people, the truth entrusted to Him by His Father. The manifestation of the Father’s name (in 17:6) is nothing less than the Son’s proclamation of the Father’s message, as the context reveals. D. A. Carson, in his extremely helpful commentary on John’s gospel, summarized “keep them in your name” like this:

Jesus prays that God will keep his followers in firm fidelity to the revelation Jesus himself has mediated to them.

John Brown, in his exposition of Christ’s intercessory prayer, is especially helpful on this point:

To understand the precise import of this petition,”Keep them,” it is necessary that we know the meaning of the phrase rendered “in thy name.” “The name of the Father” is the revealed character of the Father. To glorify God’s name, is to glorify himself. “The name” of the Father here, “the word” or words of the Father, and “the truth” of the Father, are all substantially the same thing — the revealed character of God, “the total of Jehovah’s awful and lovely attributes, so far as they are known or can be known by finite intelligences.” The name refers to the subject of the revelation,—the word to the form of the revelation,—the truth to the character of the revelation. The three terms together convey the idea, ‘the true revelation of the divine character.’

The Son had given them the true revelation of the divine character (“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me”), and they had believed it; but the Father must keep them in reference to this revelation, that, continuing to believe it, their “fellowship might truly be with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ…”

In summary, I think the phrase “keep them in your name” is the same thing as “keep them within the boundaries of the truth I delivered to them, the truth about you, the truth that came from you.”

3 of the Shortest Prayers in the Bible

During the 2014 Fellowship Conference, Clint Leiter from Highway M Chapel opened up one of our morning prayer meetings by talking about 3 of the shortest prayers in the Bible:

“Lord, save me!”
-Matthew 14:30

“Increase our faith!”
-Luke 17:5

“Help my unbelief!”
-Mark 9:24

Although these prayers are short, they have one thing in common: they’re all filled with a sense of desperation. When we pray, let’s remember this all-important truth:

“…God does not hear an empty cry…”
-Job 35:13

Questions to Ask Before Assembling Under the Word

These are some questions to ask yourself before assembling with the people of God under the preaching of the Word of God:

1. Did I come to hear something new and trendy, or did I come to hear ancient truth that transcends time and transforms souls?

2. Did I come to hear newly discovered insights from the Bible, or did I come to hear the Christ-centered message of the Old and New Testament, the very message that every faithful pastor has preached for 2,000 years of church history?

3. Did I come simply to have my head puffed up with more knowledge, or did I come to have my heart revived, my soul replenished, my mind renewed, my strength restored, and my eyes refocused by the Word of God as it’s applied to my life by the Holy Spirit?

4. Do I consider the preaching of God’s Word a “common” thing to be taken for granted, or do I regard it as the greatest of all privileges on this side of eternity?

5. Did I come to stare at the familiar meal that God places before me, or did I come to eat, drink, and be satisfied by the faithful God who promises to fill the wide-open mouths of His hungry people?

6. Did I come to be entertained for an hour, or did I come to be equipped for the great commission?

7. Did I come to have my ears scratched, or did I come to be equipped by the Spirit of God to take the gospel of Christ to the nations in my home, workplace, school, city, and world?

8. Am I praying with the psalmist,

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalm 119:18)

9. Have I taught my children about the sobering and blessed privilege of sitting before the preached Word, or does my lack of reverence and respect for this experience show them that it’s no different than sitting before the television or some other form of entertainment?

10. Do I plan on speaking to my children about the sermon, to ensure that they’ve understood the main point(s) of the sermon?

11. Have I prayed earnestly for the Lord’s servant who’ll be preaching, that the Chief Shepherd would speak clearly and mightily through him?

12. Am I more concerned with the preacher being culturally relevant, or do I desire and pray that he remains faithful and clear in his delivery of the Word of God?

13. Am I willing to lovingly overlook the weaknesses of the preacher in order to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church, or will I focus on what I don’t like about God’s servant and fail to receive God’s Word?

14. Am I prepared to be a “doer” of the Word, or will I content myself in being a mere “hearer” of it, and so deceive myself?

15. Have I confessed and dealt with known sin in my life in order to receive the Word with all meekness and humility, or will I foolishly sit under the exposition of God’s Word with a clouded mind, an uncultivated heart, and a partially seared conscience?

16. In light of the parable of the sower, will I hear God’s Word with an impenetrable heart, a shallow heart, a distracted heart, or a well-prepared and softened heart?

17. What measures am I going to take to make sure that I don’t forget the main point of the sermon (which should be the main point of the passage of Scripture)?

18. Am I prepared to give God my best attention and to ensure that I get a good night’s rest on Saturday so that I can be attentive on Sunday morning, or will I go to bed late after hanging out with friends (“friends don’t let friends show up to church tired”), watching television, binging on Netflix, browsing the Internet, or scrolling on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and/or Instagram?

19. Do I approach this sacred experience with the sense of anticipation, expectation, and determination that we read about in Isaiah 2:3?

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths. (Isaiah 2:3)

Note the expectation of the people: “that He may teach us His ways.” Note also their determination: “that we may walk in His paths.” It’s very clear that they ascend the mountain expecting something. Their minds are prepared. Their hearts are eager.

There is an expectation to hear from God and a determination to respond to God.

Though we may not adopt everything that came out of the Puritan era, we would do well to adopt their high view of the Word of God. A simple glance at this period of church history will reveal that Puritan preachers actually preached sermons on how to listen to sermons. Why? Because they understood something of the awesome weightiness of assembling under the Spirit-empowered preaching of God’s Word.

Along with Martin Luther, the Puritans viewed the pulpit as the throne of the Word of God. They believed that preaching was the primary means of unleashing the light and heat of God’s saving and sanctifying Word. To them, the pulpit was where the Good Shepherd fed His sheep, where the Captain of salvation armed His soldiers, where the Great Physician performed His operations, where the Head addressed the Body, where the Bridegroom smiled upon His Bride, and where King Jesus refreshed weary pilgrims as they journeyed to His Celestial City.

Yet, this awesome view of assembling under the preaching of the Word did not arise from themselves. Their basis for their high view of gathering under the preaching of God’s Word arose from the pages of the Word itself. They caught something of the significance of Isaiah 55:2-3:

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live…

Our souls eat and find delight by listening to our God. We come to Him by inclining our ear to Him. We live and flourish when we hear Him speak. This does not mean that God speaks to His people solely through preaching. However, in light of the New Testament, the primary place of equipping, arming, nourishing, growing, maturing, edifying, unifying, instructing, and fortifying is in the context of the local church where faithful pastors and shepherds are faithfully preaching the Word of God. Therefore,

Take care then how you hear. (Luke 8:18)

Give diligent heed to the things that are spoken from the Word of God. If an earthly king were to issue a royal proclamation, and the life or death of his subjects entirely depended on performing or not performing its conditions, how eager would they be to hear what those conditions were! And shall we not pay the same respect to the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and lend an attentive ear to His ministers, when they are declaring, in His name, how our pardon, peace, and happiness may be secured? . . . Pray to the Lord, before, during, and after every sermon, to endue the minister with power to speak, and to grant you a will and ability to put into practice what he shall show from the Book of God to be your duty.

-George Whitefield

An Outline of John 17

As I make my way through John 17 on Sunday mornings, I thought I’d make my outline available for those who might be able to make use of it. If it’s helpful, use it. If not, that’s okay. I’ll be editing this outline here and there as I think and work my way through the text.

1. Jesus prays for Himself (vv. 1-5)

2. Jesus prays for those who followed Him in His day (vv. 6-19)

Why He prays for them (vv. 6-11)

1. They were the recipients of His saving revelation (v. 6)

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me…and they have kept your word.”

2. They were entrusted to His care (v. 6)

“…the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me…”

3. They were true disciples (vv. 6-8)

“…they have kept your wordthey know that everything that you have given me is from you…they have received [your words] and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.”

Keeping, knowing, receiving, believing. All those terms are used in John’s gospel to define true believers. Jesus defines true discipleship in John 8:31-32 in very similar terms: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

4. They were the special beneficiaries of His priestly ministry (vv. 9-10)

“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me…I am glorified in them.”

5. They were about to be deprived of His physical presence (v. 11)

“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.”

What He prays for them (vv. 11-19)

1. Their preservation (v. 11)

“Holy Father, keep them in your name…”

2. Their union (v. 11)

“…that they may be one, even as we are one.”

3. Their protection (v. 15)

“…keep them from the evil one.”

4. Their sanctification (v. 17)

Sanctify them in the truth…”

3. Jesus prays for those who would follow Him in the future (vv. 20-26)

He prays for their blessedness in the world (v. 20-23)

This blessedness consists in an intimate union with the Triune God (v. 21, 23)

“…that they also may be in us…”

“…I in them…”

He prays for their blessedness in the world to come (v. 24-26)

That we would behold the glory of God (v. 24)

“Father, I desire that they…see my glory…”

That we would bask in the love of God (v. 26)

“…that the love with which you have loved me may be in them…”

That we would be bound to the Son of God (v. 24, 26)

“Father, I desire that they…may be with me where I am…”

“…that…I [may be] in them.”

Approaching and Reflecting God’s Holiness

In John 17:11, Jesus addressed His Father as Holy Father. The word holy presses upon our minds the awesome reality that our God and Father is One before whom we ought to fear, tremble, and stand in awe. A brief survey of Scripture reveals that when men caught some kind of glimpse or vision of the glory and holiness of God, they were left nearly dead. Some appeared to be left paralyzed, while others were left blind. Our God is “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). The greatest creatures in the universe hide their faces before Him (see Isaiah 6:2). There’s none like Him. He is infinitely above and beyond His creation and the corruption within His creation. He stands alone in His own category, with none who can compare to Him. He is “eternal, infinite, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth,” as the Shorter Catechism teaches us. He is “glorious in holiness” (Exodus 15:11). As creatures embedded in an unholy culture, is it an exaggeration to say, concerning God, that we have no idea Who we’re dealing with?

At the same time, the word Father presses upon our minds the glorious reality that this holy God, because of the gospel, can be approached by His people with boldness and confidence. The thought of approaching His holiness ought to stir up in us feelings of fear, reverence, and awe, and even the reality that we shouldn’t even be allowed near Him, because of our sin and creatureliness. Yet, when the word Father follows the word Holy in John 17:11, everything in our regenerated hearts pulls and plunges us forward to His throne of grace where we’re sure to find the tenderest of mercies, because of Jesus.

In thinking about approaching and worshiping God as our Holy Father, Thomas Manton has left us with a glorious thought that we should bear in mind every time we approach our Father in prayer:

We should go away the more holy from worship. You have been with a holy God, what of his holiness do you carry away in your hearts? They that have looked on the sun, go away with a glaring in their eyes, and they seem to see the sun in all that they look upon. You should carry away the enlightenings of worship along with you. When Moses came from God, his face shone; he had been conversing with the God of glory, and he went away with some rays of glory in his face. We should not be as the beasts in Noah‘s Ark, to go in unclean, and come out unclean.

God’s people are most full of indignation against sin, when they come from God: Exodus 32:19, when Moses had talked with God in the mount, at his return, seeing them sacrifice to the calf, he brake the tables. The more communion we have with God, the more shall we hate what is contrary to God. When Isaiah saw God in his glory, he began to loath himself: Isaiah 6:5. “Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips, and mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of Hosts.”

And those who have effectually conversed with God in meditation and prayer, they come away from him with a perfect hatred of sin; for a sight of God worketh an abomination of what is contrary to him. In a shop of perfumes, you carry away the scent in your clothes. You wonder that a man should come away cold from the fire; and it is as great a wonder to come away from the holy God with vile affections.

We should expect to be impressed with a sense of our Father’s holiness every time we approach Him in prayer, and we should examine ourselves often as to whether or not we leave His throne affected and impressed. We should go to Him with the expectation of encountering something of His holiness, and we ought to leave His throne reflecting that holiness. Shall the sun, that blazing globe of fire in the sky, have more of an effect on us than the One who spoke that sun into existence? If we can stare at the sun for a few seconds and experience a temporary blindness by it’s brightness, how can we spend time with our Holy Father in prayer and walk away unchanged, unaffected, and unimpressed? How can we, like Manton says, walk away full of vile affections? How can we say that we’ve spent time with our Father and not walk away with an increased hatred for sin and unrighteousness? How can we not come away with a heightened sense of His greatness and holiness, and a more acute awareness of His presence in this world?

Let me be very clear: I’m not saying that we should expect to experience what we read about in Exodus 34, Isaiah 6, Matthew 17, Acts 9, or Revelation 1 every time we pray, and then drown ourselves in guilt for not experiencing such things. In fact, most Christians will never catch those sorts of glimpses of God’s holiness while we’re on this side of heaven. Those were unique experiences within the unfolding drama of redemptive history. However, I am saying that we should approach our Holy Father in prayer and walk back into the world with an impression of His holiness upon our lives so that we then reflect that holiness to the world around us. I’m saying that the more we spend time with Him, the more we’ll become like Him.

May we truly approach His holiness and then reflect that holiness to a hopeless world that desperately needs the hope He offers through the gospel of His Son.

Recommended Reading:

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