Andrea Wolfe, on staff with the CoMission office in Raleigh, North Carolina tells the following story:
In 1930’s Stalin ordered a purge of all Bibles and all believers. In Stavropol, Russia, this order was carried out with a vengeance. Thousands of Bibles were confiscated, and multitudes of believers were sent to the gulags—prison camps—where most died for being “enemies of the state.”
The CoMission once sent a team to Stavropol. The city’s history wasn’t known at that time. But when the team was having difficulty getting Bibles shipped from Moscow, someone mentioned the existence of a warehouse outside of town where these confiscated Bibles had been stored since Stalin’s day.
After much prayer by the team, one member finally got up the courage to go to the warehouse and ask the officials if the Bibles were still there. Sure enough, they were. Then the CoMissioners asked if the Bibles could be removed and distributed again to the people of Stavropol. The answer was, “Yes!”
The next day the CoMission team returned with a truck and several Russian people to help load the Bibles. One helper was a young man—a skeptical, hostile agnostic collegian who had come only for the day’s wages. As they were loading Bibles, one team member noticed that the young man had disappeared. Eventually they found him in a corner of the warehouse, weeping.
He had slipped away hoping to take a Bible for himself. What he found shook him to the core.
The inside page of the Bible he picked up had the handwritten signature of his own grandmother. It had been her personal Bible. Out of the thousands of Bibles still left in that warehouse, he stole the one belonging to his grandmother—a woman persecuted for her faith all her life.
No wonder he was weeping—God was real.18 It was his introduction to the sovereign God of the universe! Remember Jeremiah’s words: “‘Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill both heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.”
This is really the truth we have been meditating on in the last couple of lessons concerning “knowing God and prayer.” God is sovereign. He is all knowing (omniscient), everywhere present (omnipresent), and all powerful (omnipotent; [Lesson II]). But he is also personal—indeed, we said super-personal, and faithful to his people (Lesson I). “‘Who will you compare me to?’ asks the Lord.” He knew what the young, agnostic, Russian man needed. He was there the whole time and he was able to pull it off. Only God can do those kinds of things. When it comes to salvation, Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” The Lord is Creator and Sustainer and is in control of all things. He has never been “surprised” by anything—including our sin—and knows no genuine rivals. He is free to do whatsoever he pleases, answering to no one but himself. He is the Supreme, self-existent Lord and Director of all creation. Listen closely to the words of the prophet Isaiah:
40:21 Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told to you since the very beginning? Have you not understood from the time the earth’s foundations were made? 40:22 He is the one who sits on the earth’s horizon, its inhabitants are like grasshoppers before him. He is the one who stretches out the sky like a thin curtain, and spreads it out like a pitched tent. 40:23 He is the one who reduces rulers to nothing, he makes the earth’s leaders insignificant. 40:24 Indeed, they are barely planted, yes, they are barely sown, yes, they barely take root in the earth, and then he blows on them, causing them to dry up, and the wind carries them away like straw. 40:25 “To whom can you compare me? Whom do I resemble?”19 says the Sovereign Ruler. 40:26 Look up at the sky! Who created all these heavenly lights? He is the one who leads out their ranks, he calls them all by name. Because of his absolute power and awesome strength, not one of them is missing.—NET Bible
The good news, which we have already hinted at in the first and second lessons, is that this sovereign God is at once Supreme and infinitely holy, loving, and wise. In this lesson we want to give serious thought and meditation to passages dealing with his holiness and connected ideas of his righteousness and in particular his justice. We want to do this keeping in mind through the whole lesson that our concern is really with prayer and approaching God. But, before we talk about God’s holiness, righteousness and justice, we need to take a closer look at what the Bible means when it refers to God as the One and only true God.
In Becoming a Contagious Christian, Bill Hybels and Mark Mittleberg tell this story: A newly promoted colonel had moved into a makeshift office during the Gulf War. He was just getting unpacked when out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a private coming his way with a toolbox.
Wanting to seem important, he grabbed the phone. “Yes, General Schwartzkopf, I think that’s an excellent plan.” He continued, “You’ve got my support on it. Thanks for checking with me. Let’s touch base again soon, Norm. Goodbye.”
“And what can I do for you?” he asked the private.
“Ahhh, I’m just here to hook up your phone,” came the rather sheepish reply.
Trying to be something your not. Bad news. Worse for those who have to listen to you. In contrast to our colonel friend—who though having a significant rank in the military was still trying to be something he wasn’t—God is the One and only, living and true God. He is not trying to be something he’s not, nor does he promote such falsehood. When he says, “I am the Lord, that is my name. My glory I will not give to another” (Isa 42:8), he speaks the truth—an important truth I might add.
There is no other God apart from him. All other so-called contenders are idols fashioned by craving, human hearts and ignorant, wayward hands. Before we can talk about God’s holiness and his love we need to come to grips with this important truth. For when we come to God in relationship and prayer, we are not coming to a God, but the God—again, the One and only, living and true God.
It has been said that “he who speaks the truth ought to have one foot in the stirrup.” And so it is with this truth in particular. For no idea about God so decisively exposes the idolatry and subhuman life engulfing our culture. People bow daily at the shrine of money, sex, power, achievement, self-esteem, physical looks, substances, and the illusion of “the pain free life,” vigorously and endlessly conscripting for such “things” the status of deity. And gods they are, tiny and impotent, whose life expectancy is akin to whitecaps atop the waves of cultural opinion. They are the false gods our hands have made and they cannot save, i.e., they cannot “cut the mustard” or “make the grade.” Like the typical “down and out” PGA pro, who sleeps in his ‘68 Comet; they always choke under pressure, never able to make it from Sunday to Sunday.
Listen carefully to the words of Jeremiah, they are worth quoting at length:
10:1 You people of Israel, listen to what the LORD has to say to you. 10:2 The LORD says, “Do not learn to follow the religious practices of the nations. Do not be in awe of things that go on in the sky even though the nations hold them in awe. 10:3 For the religion of these people is worthless. For example, they cut down a tree in the forest. And a craftsman makes it into an idol with his tools. 10:4 He decorates it with overlays of silver and gold. He uses hammer and nails to fasten it together so that it will not fall over. 10:5 Such idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field. They cannot talk. They have to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them because they cannot hurt you. And they don’t have any power to help you either.” 10:6 I said, “There is no one like you, LORD. You are great. And you are well known for your power. 10:7 Everyone should revere you, O King of all nations. That is because you deserve to be revered. For neither among all the wise people of the nations nor among all their kings is there anyone that is like you. 10:8 The people of those nations are both stupid and foolish. What they learn from those worthless idols is no better than the wood those idols are made of! 10:9 Hammered out silver is brought from Tarshish and gold is brought from Uphaz to cover those idols. They are the handiwork of carpenters and goldsmiths. They are clothed in blue and purple clothes. They are all made by skillful workers. 10:10 The LORD is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King. When He shows His anger the earth shakes. None of the nations can stand up to His fury.
Our so-called gods cannot save, deliver us from evil, or comfort our hearts in difficult times, but there is One who can! He is alive which means he can give us spiritual life, something idols, whatever they are, cannot do. He is truth and wants to establish your life on his truth, the solid foundation, as Jesus said (Matt 7: 24-27). We will talk about this at length below.
The knowledge that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the One and only true God is one of the strongest and brightest lights we as creatures possess. But it is a light that has been reduced to a flicker at times through the darkness of the collective human heart. Our culture is unwittingly at that point. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure,” says the weeping prophet, and “Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). God is just not somebody we want hanging around the “hood” of our thoughts and consequently we gladly accept a cheap imitation. As Paul says, we exchange the truth of God for the lie” (Romans 1:25).
Imitations are made of almost everything Americans use—pills, jeans, spark plugs, aircraft parts (isn’t that comforting), pacemakers, car brakes. Bogus transistors were even pawned off on Rockwall International for use in the 1976 Enterprise, a prototype of the space shuttle. Whether through an international consortium or privately, businesses tenaciously pursue counterfeiters, trying to protect their name brands and assure their customers of quality and value. Customers like to know their getting the full value for their money.
Impostors have two factors in common: (1) they claim to be as good as the real thing, and (2) they’re cheaper. Such an appeal is difficult to resist for the hard-pressed shopper looking for a bargain. What’s worse is that most people unfortunately can’t make the distinction between the true and the false anyway. Not much is different when it comes to religious and spiritual issues. Many have accepted the myriad of gods handed on to them by the gurus in America; gods of health, wealth, beauty, and wholeness ad infinitum. They claim to be the real thing and they’re definitely cheaper than the true God who doesn’t want your money per se, just your life!
But it’s hard work to talk to folk about this biblical truth these days, just as hard as it was to convince Columbus that he was in the New World not in the Indies. Columbus’s knowledge of winds and waves brought him to the New World and took him back to the Old. But if he knew the elements, he never escaped his illusions about the New World being the Indies. On the contrary, he found in every discovery new evidence to support his contentions. A shrub that smelled like cinnamon he called “cinnamon.” The aromatic “gumbo-limbo” in the West Indies he considered the equivalent of the mastic tree of the Mediterranean. The common garden rhubarb of the West Indies he mistook for the valuable Chinese rhubarb. The scent of the far east floated in the Caribbean’s tropical air and Columbus made the mistake of equating odor with geography.
People do the same thing religiously these days. Anything resembling truth becomes truth. They call it truth and immediately draw parallels to truth. The mother of heaven becomes the pagan ideal of the Virgin Mary; the ancient Egyptian trinity of Atum, Shu, and Tefnut becomes the biblical trinity; and various saviors in heathen writings are not unlike Christ in many ways. Whatever the Bible teaches, these seekers of their own objectives weave any thread of possibility into an unyielding rope of evidence. But given the moral bankruptcy of the nation one is justified in questioning the saving powers of these “truths,” i.e., these other gods.
In contrast, the apostle Paul went with great courage and conviction into a pluralistic Greco-Roman world with the gospel of God’s grace and truth. He went through many cities preaching the One and Only true God in the synagogues and undoubtedly to any who would listen. The Thessalonians listened, set aside their spiritual pride and idolatry, and gave themselves wholeheartedly to Christ. The apostle was overjoyed with this young church. The reason, in his own words: “Therefore we do not need to say any more about it [i.e., your faith], for they themselves [believers in Macedonia and Achaia] report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath (1 Thess 1:8-10).
Do you want to know this God? Trust in Christ yourself. As Howard G. Hendricks has said, “Great impressions can be made from a distance, but reality can only be tested up close. So then, by faith, and in prayer, draw close to God through Christ and taste and see that he is good, that he is the One and Only, living and true God.
I’ll say it again. We must remember that the God we seek in relationship is the one true God. Therefore, he will not accept us playing with cheap imitations. There can be no idolatry in our lives if we are to have a healthy prayer life, for our God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:3-4).
So the Lord is the One and Only, true and living God. Closely connected to this is the Biblical idea that he is majestic in holiness. This means, negatively speaking, that he is not tainted in any way whatsoever by sin, and positively, that he is infinitely good and just. Moses expresses the Lord’s unique holiness or otherness in his song of praise:
Who is like you, O Yahweh, among the gods? Who is like you?—majestic in holiness, fearful in praises, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11)
The prophet Habakkuk, in contrast to the sin of his people and the nations around them, stresses the absolute moral perfection of YHWH’s holiness:
Your eyes are too pure to look on (i.e. approve) evil, you cannot tolerate wrong (Habakkuk 1:13).
The holiness of God is that attribute which speaks peace to our hearts as Christians. For we know that he cannot be tempted in any way by sin and that there is never an evil thought in his mind (James 1:13). “He is untouchable,” as the phrase goes; sin can never penetrate its way into his heart, as it has ours and the Devil’s. This is definitely good news for modern man, depending, of course, on how he responds.
In The Encounter Charles Mylander writes:
Los Angeles motorcycle police officer Bob Vernon saw a red pickup truck speed through a stop sign. “This guy must really be late for work,” he thought to himself. He turned on his emergency lights and radioed that he was in pursuit. The pickup pulled over and Vernon approached.
Meanwhile the driver thought, “The cops already know.” He rested his hand on the same gun he had used just moments ago to rob a twenty-four-hour market. The sack of stolen money was beside him.
The officer said, “May I see your—”
He never finished the sentence. The driver shoved his gun toward the policeman’s chest and fired. The officer was knocked flat seven feet away.
A few seconds later, to the absolute shock of the criminal, the officer scrambled to his feet, pulled his service revolver, and fired twice. The first bullet went through the open window and smashed the windshield. The second tore through the door and ripped into the driver’s left leg.
“Don’t shoot!” the thief screamed, throwing the gun and sack of money out the pickup window.
What saved the policeman’s life was a material called KevlarTM, the super strong fabric used for bullet proof vests. Only three-eighths of an inch thick, Kevlar can stop bullets cold.
Such is the nature of God’s unchangeable holiness—absolutely impenetrable and impervious to sin. Though he is immediately and actively engaged in the world, he is not of the world. Therefore, he will always and only do what is right and good.
The first use of the term “holy” in the OT is in Exodus 3:5 and refers to divine sacredness. Before God had made himself known by the name, “I AM” he revealed himself to Moses as awesomely holy. Moses records the incident:
3:2 And the Angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. He looked—and the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not being consumed. 3:3 So Moses thought, “I will turn aside to see this amazing sight, why the bush does not burn up.” 3:4 And when Yahweh saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” 3:5 And he said, “Do not come near. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 3:6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look on God.
The meaning of the burning bush is never given in Scripture and interpretations are legion. The bush was small and insignificant. This could indicate that God was concerned with his people who were small and insignificant and suffering at the hands of the Egyptians. Others have suggested that the lesson was for Moses. He was to learn that God was in the small and insignificant things of life, like a bush. I highly doubt that either of these interpretations is correct in itself. The truth is likely some combination of the two with a focus on God’s attribute of holiness and his desire to redeem his people. The one thing we can be sure that Moses “walked away with” was a new appreciation of God’s purity and holiness.
The holiness of God forbids any come near with an indifferent attitude. Twice, God repeated Moses’ name in order to warn him not to come any closer. The Lord commanded Moses to take off his sandals because the place where he was standing was holy ground. Thus Moses learned that one should not run hastily into the presence of God, but must realize and come to grips (as best mortal man can) with God’s staggering holiness. People know God because he wants to be known, not because they have any natural abilities equal to the task. But for those whom God has called to know him he demands holiness in approaching him. “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.”
The children of Israel needed to learn the same lesson as well. The Lord descended on Mount Sinai, but he specifically told the Israelites that they were not to rush up to see the him lest he break out against them and many perish:
19:16 And on the third day in the morning there were thunders and lightning and a dense cloud on the mountain, and the sound of a very loud horn; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. 19:17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their place at the lower end of the mountain. 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was completely covered with smoke because Yahweh had descended on it in fire; and its smoke went up like the smoke of a great furnace, and the whole mountain shook greatly. 19:19 When the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, Moses was speaking and God was answering him with a voice. 19:20 And Yahweh came down on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain; and Yahweh summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 19:21 And Yahweh said to Moses, “Go down and solemnly warn the people, lest they force their way through to Yahweh to look, and many of them perish. 19:22 And let the priests also, who draw near to Yahweh, sanctify themselves, lest Yahweh break through against them” (Exodus 19:16-22)
This is where we fallen humans have a problem.
The very idea of holiness is difficult to talk about nowadays, undoubtedly because of the “bad press” and the obvious, inherent implications. The very idea of “holiness” is often associated with ascetic religious practices—practices which have little or no apparent value to our culture today. Or, it is sometimes—dare I say, often—associated with dispositions of anger, bitterness and the attitudes of people who decry everything other people (i.e., sinners) do, especially the jokes they tell. In short, holiness is more often associated with hatred than goodness. Now there are many times where Christians have justly earned this characterization and criticism. Some of the most bitter people I have ever met claim to be born-again Christians. Sad.
On the other hand, many Christians who are trying to lead godly lives in our day-to-day world have encountered people who, no matter what the Christian does, condemn it. They think that just because Christians frown on living together before marriage, disapprove of stealing from the IRS, and advance the ridiculous notion that there really is “right” and “wrong,” and that we can know it, they are attempting to be self-righteous and puritanical about their own so-called “holiness.” I believe their standard line is: “You just think you’re better than everyone else,” which is another way of saying, “I’ll do whatever I want, whether you think it’s right or not.” For some people it’s enough just to be around Christians and they’re set off.
R. C. Sproul tells the story: A few years ago one of the leading golfers on the professional tour was invited to play in a foursome with Gerald Ford, then president of the United States, Jack Nicklaus, and Billy Graham (he had played frequently with Nicklaus before). After the round of golf was finished, one of the other pros came to the golfer and asked, “Hey, what was it like playing with the President and with Billy Graham?”
The pro unleashed a torrent of cursing and in a disgusted manner said, “I don’t need Billy Graham stuffing religion down my throat.” With that he turned on his heel and stormed off, heading for the practice tee.
His friend followed the angry pro to the practice tee. The pro took out his driver and started to beat out balls in a fury. His neck was crimson and it looked like steam was coming from his ears. His friend said nothing. He sat on a bench and watched. After five minutes the anger of the pro was spent. He settled down. His friend said quietly, “Was Billy a little rough on you out there?” The pro heaved an embarrassed sigh and said, “No, he didn’t even mention religion. I just had a bad round.”
Astonishing. Billy Graham had said not a word about God, Jesus, or religion, yet the pro had stormed away after the game accusing Billy of trying to ram religion down his throat. How can we explain this? It’s really not difficult. Billy Graham didn’t have to say a word; he didn’t have to give a single sideward glance to make the pro feel uncomfortable. Billy Graham is so identified with religion, so associated with the things of God, that his very presence is enough to smother the wicked man who flees when no man pursues. Luther was right, the pagan does tremble at the rustling of a leaf. He feels the hound of heaven breathing down his neck. He feels crowded by holiness even if it is only made present by an imperfect, partially sanctified human vessel.20
If this is what people do in the presence of a godly Christian, just imagine what men will do when they come face to face with the Lord God almighty in all his multi-splendored holiness and dazzling brilliance. Will they survive? In the eighth century B. C. a man by the name of Isaiah had just such an opportunity. Listen to what he says:
6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the sovereign Lord seated on a high, elevated throne. The skirts of his robe filled the temple. 6:2 Seraphs stood over him; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and they used the remaining two to fly. 6:3 They called out to one another, “Holy! Holy! Holy! is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 6:4 The sound of their voices shook the door frames, and the temple was filled with smoke. 6:5 I said, “Woe is me! I am destroyed, for my lips are contaminated by sin, and I live among people whose lips are contaminated by sin. My eyes have seen the king, the LORD who leads armies” (Isaiah 6:1-5).
God is holy. Now there are two principle ideas which flow from God’s holiness. These are his righteousness and his justice. In the first article we talked about his righteousness in terms of his faithfulness. This means that God always and only acts in ways completely upright, consistent with his character. He does not impose any standard on anyone that he himself does not perfectly keep. The Law reveals his perfections and he maintains the perfect demands of the Law in his relationships with people. He is utterly faithful to what he has said he will do and not do.
The second attribute that flows from his holiness is his justice. He not only acts in perfect accord with the His Law (which is only a revelation of his infinite perfections), that is, his very nature, he demands that others do so as well. And for those who do not, there is punishment. For those who do, there is reward. God administers the world with justice, though we do not always see it (cf. Psalm 73). There have been people who have done terrible things who seem to have gone unpunished by the state, let alone by God. This takes us deep into the problem of evil and the sovereignty of God. We will not deal with that here, but suffice it to say that God’s essential holiness leads us into discussions of his righteous dealings with people and his impartial justice, which in turn leads to his judgment.
The first idea that we need to learn about God’s judgment is that it is impartial and retributive. Every man, whether Jew or Gentile, slave or free, will be judged impartially by God. There will be no glossing over our sin as Christians in the day of judgment. God will not grant us a special dispensation, but will indeed hold us accountable for what we have done (1 Peter 1:17-19; Rev 22:12). Second, there is nonetheless a difference between God’s judgment of the Christian and his judgment of the non-Christian. By way of the cross and the death of Christ God has made a way to eternally forgive all those who confess their sins in this life so that their judgment in the eschaton concerns not their eternal destiny, but reward (Rev 22:12). The judgment of the non-Christian, who dies apart from Christ, is also not about eternal destiny. That too was decided during his life when he refused to accept the offer of life in Christ. His place for eternity is already assigned, but the degree of punishment will be made known at the Great White Throne.
Now, as with every Bible doctrine, there are those who deny that the Bible teaches the doctrine of hell. They claim that the thought of eternal, conscious punishment is so contrary to the love of God so as to put an unbearable strain on the two and to throw the attributes of God into an irreconcilable confusion (so Origen). One of the two doctrines has to go, it would seem, at least as it has been historically understood within conservative Protestantism. You guessed it, of course,…hell. It’s amazing that Augustine, Calvin, and Luther, not to mention Jesus and Paul, never seemed to want to get rid of one in favor of the other. How convenient that we should. But someone might just as well ask, “Why not dispense with love?” After all, it has been said by many biblical scholars that the bible speaks more about God’s wrath and judgment than his love. And if the Bible’s anthropology is correct it would seem more natural that all should go to a place of punishment than that any should spend even one moment in heaven enjoying the presence of a holy God.
But this attitude exits on a much broader level in our culture than just among certain academic, Biblical scholars. There is a prevailing attitude in our country today that dispenses with this aspect of the justice of God. People nowadays do not believe God will judge them for anything. After all, who does he think he is anyway?
In 1994 Life magazine conducted interviews with dozens of people on the issue of prayer. One person they talked to was a prostitute, age twenty-four, in White Pine County, Nevada.
“I don’t think about my feelings a lot,” she said. “Instead I lie in bed and think onto him. I meditate because sometimes my words don’t come out right. But he can find me. He can find what’s inside of me just be listening to my thoughts. I ask him to help me and keep me going.
“A lot of people think working girls don’t have any morals, any religion. But I do. I don’t steal. I don’t lie. The way I look at it, I’m not sinning. He’s not going to judge me. I don’t think God judges anyone.”21
The most revealing aspect of this particular interview is that from an innocent question about prayer comes the young girl’s defense of her morals and the idea that God wouldn’t dare judge anyone. “Their consciences bear witness, their thoughts now accusing, even defending them,” says the apostle Paul (Romans 2:15).
In summary, the holiness of God is his absolute, infinite, and untainted purity and goodness. There is no sin or evil in him at all and he is good to all that he has made. This means that he is completely righteous and upright in his dealings with people according to the standard of his own being. Jesus said that “he sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” He does not give a stone when men ask for a fish or a loaf of bread. His holy character means that he judges each man impartially according to his deeds. It means that for those whose deeds come from faith in Christ, he rewards them. It means that for those whose deeds reflect an unregenerate, unbelieving heart that has never accepted Christ’s invitation, there will be wrath (Matt 11:28-30; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
Let us remember that when we come to God through Christ (John 14:6) we come to the One and Only, Living and True God. Let us cleanse our hearts from idolatry in any and every form (1 John 1:9). And as we draw near, let us be conscious that God is holy and that he conducts himself as such in his affairs. Let us also remember that he demands that the world account for itself. The gospel does not change these facts (Heb 4:13). It only brings them into their proper focus and interrelatedness, both in the lives of those who do not know him, as well as those who do. The love of God and his grace must be seen in relationship to his holiness, lest our view of God degenerate into some cosmic, benevolent Santa Claus. In the next article we will look at God’s infinite and holy love.