The Holiness of God is a book written by R.C Sproul in 1985. The second edition was published in 1998. The first and second edition was published by Tyndale Publishers. The current edition has eleven chapters.
Who is R.C Sproul?
R.C Sproul was born in Pittsburg on February 13, 1939, and he died on December 14, 2017. During his lifetime, he was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of America and founder of Ligonier Ministries. R.C Sproul was a famous preacher, teacher, Christian apologist, and philosopher. He spoke regularly in conferences all over the world (including The Ligonier Conference). His radio program, “renewing your mind” is a popular broadcast in the US and beyond. He has been a stalwart of the faith, a great defender of the inerrancy and sufficiency of scriptures, and one of those responsible for the resurgence and popularity of reformed faith in the United States and beyond. He wrote over a hundred books, published many articles, and recorded many audio and video teaching series, among other resources he left for the church of Christ.
Summary of the Book
The Holiness of God is one of the Christian Classics published in the last century. The focus of the book is to trace out the theme of the holiness of God, how that holiness applies to us in redemption, and how God calls us to live in holiness precisely because he is holy.
The theme of God’s holiness is not popular in today’s church. We prefer to talk about the love of God and the goodness of God. However, Sproul argues that without a clear grasp of the thrice-holy God, we will have a warped understanding of the love of God.
He begins by helping us understand that the only God who exists- the creator God, who is Lord over the heavens and the earth is holy, and we should hallow his name. His exposition of Isaiah 6 sets the stage for the whole book drawing us into the experience of Isaiah to contemplate the holiness of God with whom we have to do, the God before whom Daniel, John, Isaiah, and Peter quacked.
Sproul considered the transcendence of God, the fact that God is separate from us and above us. God’s holiness is transcendent. The holiness of God is not one single aspect of God but a “synonym for his deity.” Every aspect of God’s character flows out of his holiness. His love is holy love, his justice is a holy justice, his knowledge is holy knowledge, and his mercy is holy mercy.
He then traces out how the holiness of God should call forth awe and reverence from us as creatures before a holy creator. With the example of the disciples in Luke 5, Sproul explains how the moral excellence and transcendence of God cause fear and dread among those who are confronted with the holy God. He used Luther as an example of someone who was confronted with the holiness of God and the dread, fear, and awe that proceeds from such confrontation.
An essential part of God’s holiness is his justice. Sproul was not afraid to plunge the depth of God’s justice and wrath- a topic we are not comfortable with, in this age. He helps us understand how a holy God deals with sin. With that as a background, he offers us the gospel, how we come to have peace with a holy God instead of being at war with the holy God.
He then proceeds to God’s invitation for us to be holy as He is holy. Sproul confronts the idolatry of our modern age- our desire to create God in our image. He confronts us once again with the holy justice and wrath of God and why the preaching of the holiness of God belongs in every pulpit. Without the work of God in regeneration, sinners cannot love this holy God. Therefore, rather than create God in our image, we must allow the holy God to confront men with his holiness and bring them to repentance and faith in Christ.
Sproul then concludes by applying the holiness of God to our worship of God – holy spaces and holy times.
What I Love About This Book
There are many things about this book that I love. Let me identify a few:
- Sproul presents to us the biblical God without any human compromise: He confronts our idolatry – the desire to create a God with whom we are comfortable. Sproul will not have the human-centered religion of our days. Through faithful exegesis of the relevant passages, he calls us to behold the only God that exists- the holy God.
- Drawing out the implications: Sproul was not content to give us an academic understanding of the holiness of God. Through the passages he chose, the historical narratives, the personal example, Sproul wants us to have a confrontation with the holy God. He wants to produce a dread, awe, and reverence for God in the hearts of the reader by bringing us face to face with the holy God.
- Faithful presentation of God’s justice and wrath: You will hardly find a more faithful presentation of God’s justice and wrath towards sin than in Sproul’s book. He engages with relevant passages and builds a compelling case that rebukes the Santa Claus non-God that we have created in this age.
- Gospel-centeredness: When you read the work of a man that has been at the forefront of the recovery of Reformed Theology and preaching in the last and present century, you will not but see the gospel permeating everything. Sproul presents the holy God to bring sinners in confrontation with a holy God so that convicted of their sin and the wrath of God upon them, they can flee to Christ for rescue. This is a gospel-centered presentation of the holy God.
Why Should You Read This Book?
- Its theology: If you want to know who the biblical God is and not the idols we have created from our imaginations, read Sproul’s book.
- Its simplicity: Sproul is the master at presenting theological truths in simple language that the average person can understand with clarity. The use of personal experiences, experiences of other people in church history, the experiences of people in the scriptures makes the book easy to read. Every chapter also has a particular bible passage serving as the bedrock, which makes the book more memorable.
- Its practicality: Sproul’s book draws you in. You will not put the book down, thinking about how much knowledge you have acquired. Instead, you will be left in awe and reverence of this holy God. If you are a child of God, you will gain a greater appreciation of the gospel and the call of God on your life to be holy. You will come to the presence of God with greater awe and reverence. If you are an unbeliever, by God’s grace, you will come to bow down before this holy God and cling to Jesus Christ, the one who can forgive your sins, restore you to the holy God who will become to you a Father.
- Its history: I was listening recently to a conference that was held this year. In the Q&A session, the pastors were asked to name some books that have shaped their thoughts the most about biblical worship. Almost all of the participants mentioned Sproul’s book. This book has influenced individuals, pastors, and churches since it was first published. It definitely belongs on your reading list
- Its faithfulness: Throughout his life, his goal is to be biblical. Sproul is not a man-pleaser. He is a servant of God who wants to preach the word of his master faithfully. In this book, you will catch a glimpse of that faithfulness to scriptures and the God of scriptures as he handles this vital topic.
I highly commend to you, The Holiness of God, by R.C Sproul.
- Ligonier Ministry Website: https://www.ligonier.org/
- Video Series by R.C Sproul on the Holiness of God: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/holiness_of_god/
- Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Holiness-God-R-C-Sproul/dp/B002KCR0LS
- Scribd Page: https://www.scribd.com/book/235083328/The-Holiness-of-God
- Some quotes from the book: https://www.ligonier.org/blog/great-quotes-holiness-god/
- Free PDF: https://www.pdfdrive.com/the-holiness-of-god-e196928404.html