Losing the traditional vision of God

David Wells, in an outstanding book entitled, No Place for Truth, made this salient observation:

The loss of the traditional vision of God as holy, is now manifested every-where in the evangelical world. It is the key to understanding why sin and grace have become such empty terms. What depth or meaning. . .can these terms have except in relation to the holiness of God?

Divorced from the holiness of God, sin is merely self-defeating behavior or a breach in etiquette. Divorced from the holiness of God, grace is merely empty retoric, pious window dressing, for the modern technique by which sinners work out their own salvation.

Divorced from the holiness of God, our gospel becomes indistinquishable from any of a host of alternative self-help doctrines. Divorced from the holiness of God, our public morality is reduced to little more than an accumulation of trade-offs between competing private in interest.

Divorced from the holiness of God, our worship becomes mere entertainment. The holiness of God is the very cornerstone of Christian faith, for it is the foundation of reality.

Sin is defiance of God’s holiness, the Cross is the out-working in victory of God’s holiness, and faith is the recognition of God’s holiness. Knowing that God is holy is therefore the key to knowing life as it truly is, knowing Christ as He truly is, knowing why He came, and knowing how life will end.

It is this God, majestic and holy in His being, this God whose love knows no bounds because His holiness knows no limits, who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world. He has been replaced in many quarters by a god who is slick and slack, whose moral purposes turn out to be [fatherly] advice that we can disregard or negotiate as we see fit, whose Word is a play thing for those who wish merely to listen to themselves, whose church is a mall in which the religious, their pockets filled with the coin of need, do their business.

About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.
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