Foundations of Faith, God is Holy
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The first foundational attribute of God that we will explore is: God is Holy
As Christians, it is a fairly common occurrence (or it should be) for us to sing praises and worship to our Holy God. We even capitalize the "H" for greater emphasis. But what does "Holy" really mean? And how can we authentically worship His Holy nature without first defining the attribute?
It would be like me telling you that is honor of God, I painted my whole house in different shades of mogg. When you ask why, I say it is because God is Mogg. Then, in order to avert the possibility of being considered less-than-knowledgeable about God's "Mogg"-ness, you invite me to join in a spontaneous outpouring of love and praise to the "Mogg"-ness of God.
Yes, it is a silly example, but as we continue you may find that it is not to far off the mark.
"'I will remain in the world no longer, but the are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name - the name you gave me - so that they may be one as we are one.'" Jesus - John 17:11 NIV
In the previous verse, Jesus is speaking directly to God and was recorded using the Greek word "hagios" as an attribute of God. Strong's concordance describes the term "hagios" in this way:
"Hagios expresses something more and higher than sacred, outwardly associated with God; something more than worthy, honorable; something more than pure, free from defilement. Hagios is more comprehensive. It is characteristically godlikeness."
"Something more..." Is there a better explanation of God?
Our Infinite God
In order to better clarify our understanding of the attribute "Holy" we must extend ourselves past the term "holiness", that which is like God, to the "something more..." that is God. Thus, we arrive at several different aspects of Holy. The first aspect is infinitude, or the infinite nature of God.
In distinguishing the multitude of aspects that can be attributed to the term "Holy" as it pertains to God, we have segregated it's aspects to three broad categories: expansiveness, timelessness, and separateness. Although the term "infinite" may also relate to time, for our purposes we are approaching it as a reference to the expansiveness or size of God.
According to R.C. Sproul, one of John Calvin's axioms was "Finitum non capax infinitum" which translated means that "The finite cannot grasp (or contain) the infinite". So, to put it simply, as the infinite and eternal God, He is neither constrained by man made theories nor can His capabilities be understood.
As an analogy, let's consider an iceberg. Only a small percentage of the iceberg can be seen above water, the vast majority of the mass of an iceberg remains underwater unseen. Could we base the risk presented by the iceberg to a passing ship simply by the visual evidence revealed above the water without extrapolating an estimate of what remains hidden underwater?
In Randy Newman's excellent book "Questioning Evangelism", he shares some example dialogue's that might take place when sharing the Gospel with non-believers. In the following example, he is addressing the question of Biblical plausibility and God's existence with an self proclaimed atheist (Art):
"Randy: Is it possible that there's evidence that you just don't know about?
Art: What kind of evidence?
Randy: Well...could there be, for example, strong historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead?
Art: How would that prove the existence of God?
Randy: It would validate a lot of what Jesus taught, and He had a lot to say about God's existence.
Art: Okay. Yes, that would be some evidence that I haven't heard about. So what?
Randy: It means that you might be wrong...
Randy: It means that you might be wrong. Here. Let me draw something. (I drew a circle on a napkin and labeled it "All Knowledge.") This is all of the knowledge there is to know. How much of this circle would include all of the knowledge you currently have? (I handed him the pen. He thought for a minute and then did what most people have done when I posed this question. He drew a small dot in the middle of the circle.)
Randy: That's about what I'd say for me, too. (I now shaded in the part of the circle that was not represented by his dot-in other words about 99 percent of the circle.) Is it possible that there is some knowledge in this shaded portion that could be evidence for God's existence?
Art: Yes." Questioning Evangelism, Randy Newman
The rest of the dialogue is an excellent discussion regarding the fallacy of intellectuals who refer to themselves as "atheists" when in fact it would be more accurate to call themselves "agnostics".
While fascinating, the issue of agnosticism versus atheism are not the point of sharing the previous section of Randy Newman's book, instead we will extrapolate the Randy's drawing exercise to illustrate the infinite nature of God.
On a sheet of paper, draw a circle and label that circle "All Knowledge". Within that circle, shade in the portion which you currently have. Do you and "Art" from above share a small amount of knowledge within the scope of the larger circle? What percentage of the circle do you estimate that you shaded? 1%? 10%? Is it somewhat humbling or are you extremely knowledgeable and have a much larger shaded area?
Now consider this. To better understand how awesome a God we serve, what percentage is the shaded area to the table or surface on which the paper is resting? And by extension, what is the percentage as compared to the room you are in? Even within that scope we are limiting God to finite structures.
Also, though two dimensional size of the circle is what we are comparing to the total area of the surface, we must take into account the tiny depth of the paper in relationship to the total volume of the room. And even at that we are no closer to estimating to expansiveness of God. In fact, even if you were able to articulate the percentage of the shaded area representing your knowledge to the entire volume of the universe, your estimate of the expansive nature of God would appear as nothing more that your original circle labeled "All Knowledge".
"Finitum non capax infinitum" - The finite cannot grasp (or contain) the infinite - John Calvin
Does your head hurt yet? And, now for a thought to encourage your heart to swell. The infinite nature of our Holy God cannot be measured simply by expansiveness but also by His infinite granularity, in that, God exists every single fiber of would, to the molecules that make the fiber, to the atoms that combine to form the molecules. Even the electrons of each atom would be perceived as massive when compared with the granular detail of God's workmanship. The same God which can hold our universe on the tip of His finger is the same God that has detailed knowledge over even the most fleeting desire of your heart. He remembers even when you have long since forgotten.
God is Holy because He is infinite.
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