Dear Grace Family,

Our hymn of adoration this Lord’s Day morning will be “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The words were written in 1826, while the tune was written in 1861. This is one of those time-tested hymns that has crossed nearly every denominational boundary. I’m not sure if it’s still the case, but historically it has always been #1 in Baptist hymnals, signifying the great importance of its treatment of the Triune God in His holiness. I always pause when we sing this together, because while the hymn in its fullness wasn’t written until 1826, we know that the angels in heaven have been singing the opening words much, much longer than that. Of all the selections we sing together, we know that our singing of these words will last into and throughout eternity. I remember being in a summer Bible study hosted by my home church when I was in college. The leader asked us what one word most thoroughly and accurately describes God. Most of the room, and the teacher, answered with the word love. Well, I was the contrarian in the room and answered holy. My logic was that while the Bible says God is love, it never says God is love, love, love. It does, however, say He is holy, holy, holy. Now, let’s not be splitting hairs over this. Linguistic and grammatical principles a theological point does not make. However, it is a thought worth our consideration. Holiness is the comprehensive ideal that best explains the plan of redemptive history culminating in the cross of Christ. God judges because He is holy. God loves because He is holy. God punishes sin because He is holy. God forgives sin because He is holy. Holiness, then, is the best explanation for creation, fall, redemption, consummation. It’s the best explanation for heaven and hell, life and death, etc. One final thought on this Thursday. The holiness of God is a concept that should cause all of those who remain in bondage to their sin to fear and tremble. The holiness of God cannot and will not be in the presence of sin. Yet, for all of us who are in Christ, it should be a concept that magnifies the beauty of Christ and the glory of His grace. Isaiah wasn’t killed in the presence of God, because God made him holy. My friends, we are and will be eternally welcome in the presence of God, because the blood of Jesus has made us holy. Now that ought to have us here Sunday ready to sing. See y’all then.

Humbly yours,