I first read this book a couple years ago and remember being so struck by it I thought I should take another look at it. I truly believe that this is one of the most important pieces of literature in Christendom. I know that’s a huge statement, but it certainly is when compared with all the other Christian literature I’ve read (which is an admittedly small sample size). Part of what makes this book so profound and useful is the importance of the topic discussed and the lack of understanding of God’s holiness in the church; this is reflected in the disparity of books on God’s holiness verses His love or His grace or His peace (and the disparity in results found on a google search).
If you’re like me, you’ve read the old testament and have found yourself wondering why God did certain things. There are just some things that seem out of place to a loving and merciful God. Why did God kill Uzzah for steadying the ark of God when it was going to fall into the mud? Why did He strike down Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu for offering additional sacrifices to Him. Why does God destroy complete nations, or command Joshua to extinguish all of Canaan? I had to wrestle with those questions myself. Plenty of explanations and inferences have been made to reconcile the apparent disconnect, but Sproul throws those away and offers the biblical and awe-inspiring answer to these troubling passages and much more. “The question is not, why does God punish sin but why does He permit the ongoing human rebellion?”
But Sproul does not begin there. He starts by calling us to see God’s holiness throughout the scriptures, looking at Isaiah’s vision, Moses and the burning bush, and the difference between Lord and LORD in the bible. Understanding these passages and encounters with a Holy God lead us to a grasp of His works in all of creation, even most the difficult ones. “How we understand the person and character of God the Father affects every aspect of our lives. It affects far more than what we normally call the “religious” aspects of our lives. If God is the Creator of the entire universe, then it must follow that He is the Lord of the whole universe… His holy character has something to say about economics, politics, athletics, romance–everything with which we are involved.”
If I get the privilege to lead another bible study, this is a book I want to go through. The questions at the end of each chapter are thought-provoking and would further great discussion within a group. The holiness of God is such an important aspect of the divine to understand. Without it, we have a hard time resolving the inner difficulties of our faith in relation to a fallen world; more importantly, we diminish the value of the cross and lose sight of the awesome chasm bridged by the death of Christ.