Too often we as Christians tend to emphasize one of God’s character traits more than others. In this book, the author addresses the importance of keeping God’s holiness and God’s love in balance as working together. They cannot be separate from each other. The atonement is described in a beautiful, moving way – God’s holiness demanding complete righteousness and His love providing that through Christ’s sinless life. As a response to God’s holy-love, we are now free to live for Him instead of for ourselves. The American dream of individualism has caused us to lose sight of who we are in Christ.
An excellent book on who God is and a return to knowing Him as He reveals Himself to us rather than making Him into Who we want Him to be. Part of the book deals with worship and what that really should look like in the church today and yet how far we have strayed from the biblical definition of worship.
Some quotes for reflection:
“The knowledge of God is, in fact, a lifetime pursuit, not an instantaneous download. God has made himself known in Scripture, but we need to learn how to walk with him through life in the light of what we know of him.”
“He is simultaneously loving and holy in such a way that we never encounter his love without his holiness or his holiness without his love.”
“We must train ourselves to set the character of God in the framework that he gave us rather than in the framework we so often use in understanding our lives today.”
“In a psychological world, we want therapy; in a moral world, a world of right and wrong and good and evil, we want redemption. In a psychological world, we want to be happy. In a moral world, we want to be holy. In the one, we want to feel good but in the other want to be good.”
“God therefore stands before us not as our Therapist or our Concierge. He stands before us as the God of utter purity to whom we are morally accountable.”
“He is not there begging to enter our internal world and satisfy our therapeutic needs. We are before him to hear his commandment. And his commandment is that we should be holy, which is a much greater thing than being happy. It is a commandment to be holy but not a promise that we will be made whole. We will not be made whole in this life. We will carry life’s wounds with us and we will be beset by painful perplexities and our own personal failures. It is true that there are psychological benefits to following Christ, and happiness may be its by-product. These, though, are not fundamentally what Christian faith is about. It is about the God who is other than ourselves, who is the infinite and gracious God. But let us never forget, it is this God who also summons us to come and die at the foot of Christ’s cross.”
“…the central theme of this book: how should the holy-love of God define and shape our sanctified lives?”
“Sanctification is about living in ways that are consistent with what we already are in Christ.”
“We are justified by faith alone but faith, if it is genuine, never stands alone. It always brings forth works.”
“That there are those who claim to be born again who show no evidence of their inward renewal, of having been torn from the past life and relocated in an entirely different spiritual existence, is a travesty and a scandal.”
“In so many churches today, theological themes have been forsaken for inspirational, therapeutic, and practical ones.”
“There is a purpose, a different purpose, for the church’s gathering. It is to give glory to God, to be renewed in his presence, to be instructed, to remember Christ’s death, and to remember again our place among the people of God. This purpose should shape everything that happens both in the service of worship and in the worshipers.”
“Nothing is more important to our understanding of worship than this: we come to the Lord, not because it is our idea to do so, or because we need to do so, or even because we like to do so, but because he first came to us. Worship is our response to what he has done. Worship undoubtedly can have its benefits. However, it is not primarily about our finding comfort, inspiration, social connections, or being entertained. it is primarily about adoration and praise being directed to God simply for who he is and what he has done. Worship loses its authenticity when it becomes more about the worshiper than about the God who is worshiped.”
Excellent book full of hard truths that we need to come back to as Christians living in a postmodern world.
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my review.