Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | July 14, 2006

Holy, Righteous, Loving and Merciful

We are nearing the completion of our review of God’s attributes as summarized in Article 1 of the Belgic Confession.  Today we consider the fact that God is Good, however this is a fairly broad term.  Thus, our discussion will attempt to expand the meaning of goodness by focusing on God’s holiness, righteousness, love and mercy.   

We cannot consider God’s holiness without referring to the calling of prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-7.  Objectively, God’s holiness is a good thing, which we can admire, honor and praise.  However, this is not necessarily a good thing for humanity to be exposed to as we see in Isaiah’s reaction to being in the presence of the Holy God.  God’s holiness is a great and terrible reality for sinful humanity, which would cause us all to be “undone” if we were required to stand before Him on our own.  In fact, those who are going to have to stand before the Holy God will have no other alternative but to be exposed to His wrathful judgment.  Most associate the term holiness with moral purity.  This is a correct association, however is only partially correct.  The other significant meaning of holiness is the concept of being set apart from the normal or mundane.  In the Old Testament, the people of God were instructed to set apart things, such as the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies.  God provided instruction for these things to be dealt with a certain reverence and honor.  Likewise, when we are considering God who is completely holy it should be done with reverence, awe and honor.   

Throughout the Scriptures we are told that God is righteous (Psalm 71:19; Psalm 48:10).  The creation declares it (Psalm 50:6), His deeds reveal it (Psalm 65:5) and His holiness necessitates it (Isaiah 5:16).  Righteousness is the attribute of being and doing the good and the right. God, who is without sin and unable to err is completely righteous.  Objectively, this is good, however similarly to our comments about holiness this is not necessarily good from unrighteous humanity.  Nonetheless, it is a great comfort to know that God is incapable of doing wrong or bad.  God will always do the right thing, since He is the personification of righteousness.   

Much of Christianity today emphasizes the love of God.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this, however it should not be the only attribute of God that is taught.  God’s love is tremendous and we should always reflect on the great privilege we have to be the recipients of this unfailing love.  Of course, the most remarkable demonstration of His love is manifested in the drama of redemption.  This redemption was achieved only through the priceless life of His only begotten Son (John 3:16).  This is true love, which required the Son of God to condescend from glory to humiliation in order to secure the salvation of a people that would be born with an innate hatred for His holiness, His righteousness and His justice. 

When we looked at God’s justice it was noted that all of humanity is guilty before their Creator.  Although, all are guilty God has mercifully chosen to save some from the judgment they deserve.  Mercy is unprovoked; it is a free exercise by the divine Creator to pardon some people from justice they deserve.  Many people misunderstand God’s mercy by assuming God is obligated to be merciful to everyone or confuse how it relates to God’s justice. The following quote may be helpful in clearing up these misunderstandings:             

It is not by suspending his righteousness or by ignoring his justice, but by sending his Son to fulfill the law and bear its just sentence in our place (Romans 3:24-25) … Therefore, God’s mercy is not a counterweight to his justice; his love does not overrule his righteousness.  God upholds his righteousness without having to condemn everyone to his eternal wrath!”  “Good News for Bad People” by Michael Horton, Modern Reformation, May/June 2006 

In our next entry we will complete our overview of Article 1 by looking at the statement, which is that God is the overflowing source of all good. 

Happy Birthday Mom!  


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