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Sermon #21 — Isaiah Series
Title: ŇHoly, Holy, Holy,
is the Lord of Hosts!Ó
Text: Isaiah 6:3
Subject: The Holiness of God
Date: Sunday Evening — March 26, 2017
Readings: Bobbie Estes and David Burge
Take out a pen and piece of paper. I am going to give you a word. When I do, I want you to write down the first word that comes into your mind, as a synonym for that word. Are you ready? Do you have pen and paper? Here is the word. ⸺ ŇGod.Ó Write down the first word that comes to your mind which describe God.
What comes to your mind when you think about God? What is he like? What is his character? That is what I want to preach about. The title of my message is ŇHoly, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts!Ó. LetŐs read Isaiah 6:1-3.
(Isaiah 6:1-3) (1) In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (2) Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. (3) And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
When Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, high and lifted up, he heard the seraphims continually chanting one to another and in unison, ŇHoly, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.Ó These seraphims represent GodŐs messengers: prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, and missionaries. In every age, in every place, GodŐs messengers are sent into the world to declare unto men who God is and what he has done, so that men and women might know him, the only true and living God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. It is this knowledge of God which is eternal life.
All of GodŐs servants have the same message. Their message is, ŇHoly, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.Ó What does this message tell us about the character of God? ⸺ Three Things.
1. There are three Persons in the Godhead.
We worship one God in the trinity of his sacred Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. ŇThe Lord of hostsÓ is one God. But in that one God there are three separate and distinct Persons (Revelation 4:8). All GodŐs messengers and all GodŐs people are Trinitarians (1 John 5:7).
(1 John 5:7) (7) For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
(Revelation 4:8) (8) And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
The fact of the Holy Trinity is declared and set before us throughout the Word of God.
á The Work of Grace (Ephesians 1:3-14)
á The Baptism of Christ (Matthew 3:13-17)
á The Baptismal Formula ⸺ ŇIn the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.Ó
á The Apostolic Benedictions (2 Corinthians 13:14)
(2 Corinthians 13:14) (14) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
2. This great and glorious triune God is the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe.
He is here called Ňthe Lord of hosts.Ó That is to say, He is the Lord of all creatures, the Lord of all beings, the Lord of all things. He who is Ňthe LordÓ (Jehovah) is Lord of all. That means, God is in absolute control of all things at all times. Any man who preaches a god who is something less than a total, absolute sovereign is a false prophet. And the god he preaches is no God at all. The God of the Bible is an unrivaled sovereign; and all his messengers always declare his glorious sovereignty (Isaiah 46:9-11; Daniel 4:35-37; Romans 9:11-24; 11:33-36).
(Isaiah 46:9-11) (9) Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (11) Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
(Daniel 4:35-37) (35) And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (36) At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. (37) Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
(Romans 9:11-24) (11) (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) (12) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. (13) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (15) For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (17) For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. (18) Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. (19) Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? (20) Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (21) Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (22) What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: (23) And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, (24) Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
(Romans 11:33-36) (33) O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? (35) Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
3. And the whole earth is full of the glory of God.
GodŐs messengers see GodŐs glory everywhere and declare plainly that everything in GodŐs creation is but the reflection of his glory and shall be the praise of his glory (Revelation 4:9-11).
á GodŐs creation is full of his glory.
á GodŐs providence is full of his glory.
á GodŐs salvation is full of his glory.
(Revelation 4:9-11) (9) And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, (10) The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, (11) Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
But my subject is the holiness of God. The essence of GodŐs character is holiness. ⸺ In all that we believe and preach about God, the essence of it all is this ⸺ ŇHoly, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.Ó Holiness is not one of GodŐs many essential attributes, like love, grace, justice, truth, and immutability. Holiness is the essence of all GodŐs attributes (Exodus 15:11).
(Exodus 15:11) (11) Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
Holiness is GodŐs nature. God is holiness. And holiness is God! The holiness of God is God. As Bro. Scott Richardson once put itÉ
ŇThe holiness of God has something to do with the wholeness of God. The holiness of God is the wholeness of God; and the wholeness of God is the holiness of God.Ó
When you think of God, the first thing that should come to mind is holiness. When you think of holiness, the first thing that should come to mind is God.
But what is holiness? Usually, we attach the idea of moral purity and perfection to the word Ňholy.Ó And, certainly, anyone who is holy is morally pure and perfect. But moral purity does not begin to comprehend the meaning of GodŐs holiness. Holiness is the transcendence of God. It is the supreme, absolute greatness of God that sets him apart from and infinitely above all his creatures.
Proposition: Holiness is the whole perfection of GodŐs infinite being.
Divisions: As I began to prepare for this message, I quickly realized why the books on my shelves offered very little help: The holiness of God is a subject too great for our peanut brains to comprehend. The subject is so great that my words about it will be few. I have no hope of explaining, or even adequately identifying GodŐs holiness. I only hope to say enough to cause our hearts to adore, worship, love, and trust our great, holy Lord God. I am going to make five statements, briefly comment on them, and send you home to worship God in the beauty of his holiness.
1. God alone is essentially holy.
2. God requires all men to be holy, even as he is holy.
3. God alone can make unholy men perfectly holy.
4. The supreme revelation of GodŐs holiness is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Every sinner who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is perfectly holy.
God Alone Holy
1st ⸺ God alone is essentially holy. GodŐs angels are holy. And his saints are holy, but not essentially so. Angels, though fallen, are angels without holiness. And men, though fallen, are men still, though they have no holiness. Holiness in angels and in men is a derived holiness. But God would not be God, were he not holy. Holiness is essential to his being. God alone is ŇThe Holy OneÓ (Isaiah 40:25; Hosea 11:9; 1 Samuel 2:2; Revelation 15:4). — ŇHoly and Reverend is his nameÓ (Psalm 111:9).
(Isaiah 40:25) (25) To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.
(Hosea 11:9) (9) I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee.
(1 Samuel 2:2) (2) There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
(Revelation 15:4) (4) Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
John Gill wrote, ŇGod only is essentially, originally, underivatively, perfectly, and immutably holy.Ó
The Puritan, Thomas Brooks, wrote, ŇHoliness in angels and saints is but a quality, but in God it is his essenceÉGodŐs holiness and his nature are not two things, they are but one. GodŐs holiness is his nature, and GodŐs nature is his holiness.Ó
Holiness is the lustre, glory, and harmony of GodŐs nature and attributes. It is Ňthe beauty of the LordÓ (Psalm 27:4). What is wisdom and knowledge without holiness, but tyranny, oppression, and cruelty? But our God is Ňglorious in holinessÓ (Exodus 15:4). Holiness is the glory of his being and the beauty of his nature. ⸺ All that God is is Holy. And all that God does is Holy.
2nd ⸺ God requires all men to be holy, even as he is holy. ⸺ The holy Lord God demands holiness. He cannot and will not accept less than perfect, pure, flawless holiness. God will not accept sincerity, works of benevolence, repentance, sacrifices, moral reformation, or even faith as a substitute for holiness. God demands holiness (Matthew 5:20; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:16; Leviticus 11:44-45). God says, ŇWalk before me, and be thou perfectÓ (Genesis 17:1).
(Matthew 5:20) (20) For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
(Hebrews 12:14) (14) Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
(1 Peter 1:16) (16) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
(Leviticus 11:44-45) (44) For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (45) For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
The slightest deviation from perfect holiness ignites the fire of GodŐs wrath against his creatures. It was deviation from perfect holiness thatÉ
á Drove Lucifer from Heaven.
á Drove the Angels into Darkness.
á Drove Adam from the Garden.
á Drives men into Hell.
Hear the Word of God. ⸺ It will take something more than a trip down a church aisle, a few tears, a prayer, or decision of your free will to get you into heaven. If you would enter into heavenŐs glory and live forever with God, you must be as good as God. You must be perfectly holy!
(Leviticus 22:21) (21) And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.
That means that salvation by the will of man, the works of man, or even the worship of man is an utter impossibility, because you cannot make yourself holy!
Holiness GodŐs Work
3rd ⸺ God alone can make unholy men and women perfectly holy. ⸺ Holiness is more than moral reformation, purity of life, and uprightness of heart. Holiness is nothing less than the complete restoration of manhood to the image and likeness of God. Holiness is the complete, not partial but complete, conformity of man to the image of God in Christ.
Men talk of practical holiness and living holy lives and of being holy. And, I suppose, thatŐs alright, as long as you understand that holiness is not something you produce. It is something God gives! Not even faith in Christ produces holiness. Faith receives holiness. Faith embraces holiness. Faith loves holiness. And faith seeks holiness. But faith cannot produce holiness. Holiness is the work of God alone!
The whole purpose of God in the scheme of redemption and grace is to make his people perfectly holy for the glory of his own great name. Salvation is neither more nor less than God taking that which is common and unclean and making it perfectly holy (Ephesians 1:3-6; 5:25-27).
(Ephesians 1:3-6) (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
(Ephesians 5:25-27) (25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
God makes his people holy by three distinct works of grace.
1. Redemption ⸺ We have been made holy before the law of God in redemption, by free justification, by being made righteousness of God in Christ (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
(Romans 5:19) (19) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
(2 Corinthians 5:21) (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2. Regeneration ⸺ We are made holy experimentally, in regeneration (sanctification) being Ňmade partakers of the divine natureÓ (2 Peter 1:4). That new man created in us by God the Holy Ghost in the new birth is created by him Ňin righteousness and true holinessÓ (Ephesians 4:24).
3. Resurrection ⸺ And we shall be made holy in glorification by the miraculous conformity of our nature (body, soul, and spirit) to Christ in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 John 3:1-2).
4th ⸺ The supreme revelation of GodŐs holiness is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-26). Here, and here alone, ŇMercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each otherÓ (Psalm 85:10).
(Romans 3:24-26) (24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
When I see Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with my sin upon him, with my sin made his, when I see him suffering the horrible wrath of God, without mercy, I see that God is indeed holy, so holy that he will not allow even his Son to go unpunished when sin is found upon him, so holy, that he will sacrifice his darling Son to save sinners before he will sacrifice his character! No wonder the seraphim, looking on the mercy-seat, cried, ŇHoly, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!Ó
What is holiness? If ever you find out the meaning of substitutionary atonement, you will find out the meaning of holiness!
Illustration: The Chief and the Chicken Thief
Sinners Made Holy
5th ⸺ Now, let me show you one more thing, and I will send you home to worship and adore our great and holy God. ⸺ Every sinner who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is perfectly holy (Colossians 2:9-10).
With His spotless garments on
I am as holy as GodŐs Son.
Near, so very near to God,
Nearer I cannot be,
For in the Person of His Son,
I am as near as He!
(Colossians 2:9-10) (9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.
If you are GodŐs, if you are born again, if you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, you are in Christ Ňunblameable in holiness before God, even our FatherÓ (1 Thessalonians 3:13), and Christ will present you before him in the last day Ňunblameable in holiness before God, even our Father!Ó ⸺ What a blessed hope that is!
(Jude 1:24-25) (24) Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, (25) To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.