R.C. Sproul and the Burj Khalifa

From Paul Tripp Ministries

Today is the last devotional in our current Wednesday’s Word series on the holiness of God. I hope it has been a blessing, but in some ways, every week felt like a futile effort.

It’s absolutely impossible to do justice to the majesty of God’s holiness within the limited boundaries of our human language. Trying to find adequate words sometimes felt like writing in circles.

So, to conclude, perhaps an illustration might help.

If you’ve ever been to Dubai, you are confronted with the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Impressive skyscrapers fill Dubai, but the Burj Khalifa looms over them all; it’s on an entirely different scale.

Even from far away, it was hard to crank my head back far enough to see all the way to the top. The closer I got, the more imposing and striking this structure became. As I walked, there was no thought of the other buildings in Dubai that had previously impressed me. They were simply not comparable in stunning architectural grandeur and perfection to this one.

Once inside, we took an elevator to the 125th floor. As I stepped to the windows to scan the city of Dubai, I remember immediately commenting on how small the rest of the buildings looked.

Those “small” buildings were skyscrapers that, in any other city, would have been the buildings that you wanted to visit! They looked unimpressive, not worthy of my attention.

Such is the holiness of God. There is nothing like it. If you allow yourself to gaze and meditate upon his holiness, what has previously impressed you and commanded your awe will do so no more.

But sadly, this most stunning reality of life, one that should shape how I think about everything, not only doesn’t always fill me with awe but sometimes doesn’t even get my attention.

I don’t always live with God’s skyscraper holiness in view. I don’t always look at everything else in life from the height of that perspective. And when I don’t, not only do other things seem bigger and more impressive than they are, but even unholy things can get my attention.

My prayer for me and you is that when it comes to God’s holiness, this truth would take hold of us and not let go, giving us the proper perspective on everything else and putting what once commanded our attention in its correct place.

Any reflection of the holiness of God must lead us to seek and celebrate his grace. It is only by revealing grace that we know that the Lord is holy, only by convicting grace that we know that we are unholy, and only by transforming grace that we desire to live holy lives.

R. C. Sproul said it this way in his book, The Holiness of God:

“When we understand the character of God, when we grasp something of His holiness, then we begin to understand the radical character of our sin and helplessness. Helpless sinners can survive only by grace. Our strength is futile in itself; we are spiritually impotent without the assistance of a merciful God. We may dislike giving our attention to God’s wrath and justice, but until we incline ourselves to these aspects of God’s nature, we will never appreciate what has been wrought for us by grace. Even Edwards’s sermon on sinners in God’s hands was not designed to stress the flames of hell. The resounding accent falls not on the fiery pit but on the hands of the God who holds us and rescues us from it. The hands of God are gracious hands. They alone have the power to rescue us from certain destruction.”1

By grace, we have been invited to live in God’s holy presence forever and ever.

God bless,

Paul David Tripp

1R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, 25th ann. ed. (Sanford, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2010), 221.

Reflection Questions

There will be no Reflection Questions for today’s devotional because, again, I am often literally at a loss for words. It’s absolutely impossible to do justice to the majesty of God’s holiness within the limited boundaries of our human language, and trying to write Reflection Questions which would “apply” or “make sense” of the holiness of God, in some ways at least, feels like a futile effort.

Instead, I would encourage you to do four things:

First: search the Scriptures for declarations of God’s holiness. Memorize them, recite them aloud, sing songs and hymns about them, write them down, and post them around your house as a visual reminder.

Second: find other resources that are dedicated to a discussion and application of the holiness of God and the Christian life. What could be a better investment of your time and a few dollars?

All the while, pray to receive the illumining ministry of the Spirit of God. Pray that God will open the eyes of your heart to “see” what cannot be seen with the physical eye or described with human vocabulary. Pray that somehow, someway, you would obtain even a minuscule glimpse of the mind-blowing grandeur of his holiness.

Finally, if you’ve been reading these devotionals on your own, go back to the beginning of this Wednesday’s Word series on holiness (which started on May 3) and use the devotionals and Reflection Questions with someone else or in a small group. Hebrews 3:12-14 is an explicit reminder that the pursuit of holiness is a community project. You need brothers and sisters to help you (also see Hebrews 10:19-27)!

R.C. Sproul and the Burj Khalifa

New Hope Presbyterian Church Bridgeton, NJ

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