In our age, more and more, we are witness to the fact that the truth that the Bible is the infallible, inspired Word of God, and that it is normative for faith and life is brought under attack. It is said that God’s Word is in the Bible, rather than that the Bible is God’s Word. The Bible is said only to tell stories of what could happen, or is said to tell something of what God is willing to say to us. Much of the historical fact of Scripture is brought into question, and parts of the Bible are denied altogether. But these are attempts to destroy God’s revelation to His people! And this attempt is made in order to substitute for God’s Word the word of man and a god of man’s imagination. From such vain philosophy God’s children must flee!
You may answer, that of course we may have no part of such a perversion of God’s Word. Yet, have you noticed that in our day there is an ever increasing lack of true spiritualness in the church world? And it is one that we all too often are led to witness. There is a continuing attempt to bring God down to the level of man. No longer are those things that were held precious in the past being maintained today. Examples abound! The holy bond of marriage, and the keeping of the Sabbath Day in sanctification unto God are scoffed at. True childlike reverence and fear of God and of His Word are being displaced by the speaking of God and to God, in prayer, in worship, and in song, as though He were no more than a next door neighbor. Often we may see a total disregard for the officebearers of Christ, with true Christian discipline becoming a thing of the past. When God’s child encounters these things it brings to him deep concern, for he knows that the Scriptures exhort, “Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at His footstool; for He is holy.”
The above departures from a Christian walk and faith, as well as other examples that could be cited, can be traced to a willing lack of holding precious the faith of our fathers. In this article we notice this in connection with that faith as it is specifically connected with God’s Names: Jehovah and the Holy One. We must beware of all such departing from the faith held precious by our fathers. The Scripture sounds forth clearly : “Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD Jehovah is everlasting strength. For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust” Isaiah 26:4ff.
When one with impunity throws over the faith of generations, and exalts his own way above that of God’s way, there remains but destruction for him. Depart from the Word and cease to wait upon Jehovah, and no strength shall sustain you. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.” Isaiah 40:30.
The judgment of God is against those who fail to serve Him in His Word. “This is thy lot, the portions of thy measures from me, saith the Lord; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood. Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear. . . Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean?” Jer. 13:25-26. Let us not harden our ears to this Word of our God, but rather hold fast the faith.
Then let us hold fast faith in Jehovah as the sovereign God. This name means, that I Am that I Am. Jehovah, is God’s covenant name through which He reveals Himself to be our sovereign God. Then we understand that Jehovah’s sovereignty is such that He is wholly different from the creature. God is perfectly the “I AM,” sufficient in Himself; but we are always dependent for what we are and for all things upon our God. How foolish it is then ever to exalt ourselves over against God, or attempt to make God dependent upon our will or our vain philosophies!
God’s counsel stands forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations. cf. Ps. 33:11. God is not worshiped, “as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” Acts 17:25. How vain is man when he thinks God is dependent upon his desire to be saved! Our God rules over all things and does all things alone according to His own will and good pleasure. cf. Psalm 115:3.
It is also evident that Jehovah alone is Lord. Oh, man may desire to make God’s Name common; he may attempt to speak of God as he would of man, to make of God but an idol of his own imagination. But our Lord, Jehovah is, and ever shall be! He alone establishes the law, His is the sole prerogative to judge the creature and to execute His own will. He alone is the standard for all law, righteousness, and justice. Does not Scripture say: “He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He”? Deut. 32:4. Does one forget God is judge of heaven and earth when with impunity he takes God’s name upon his lips? God will not be mocked! Jehovah is the Most High. He alone is the Almighty God.
Certainly in every sense the sovereignty revealed in the name Jehovah is emphasized by God’s Word. There is no host of heaven or earth that exists apart from God. Who is the king of glory? “The Lord of hosts, He is the king of glory,” Ps. 24:10. The Lord is the great God: “In his hand are the deep places of the earth, the strength of the hills is his also,” Ps. 95:4. God is the Lord and saith: “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God,” Isaiah 44:5. Who can question what God does; Who can require an answer of Him? He says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things,” Isaiah 45:7. Jehovah is merciful to whom He will be merciful, and He hardeneth whom He will. ct. Rom. 9:15ff. To Jehovah alone belongs the kingdom, the power, and the glory!
When by grace one lives in the consciousness of the presence of Jehovah, the sovereign God, as an elect sinner he is emptied of all self-seeking. And as he is given grace he glories alone in God. Further, as God reveals Himself in His name Jehovah, He demands childlike reverence and fear—a living in absolute subjection to His Holy Word. This requires a deep spiritual attitude and life.
But, further, this growing lack of spiritualness in our day is due to an overthrowing of the faith of our fathers with respect to God’s Holiness. There is an increasing lack of consciously living before the knowledge of God’s holiness. Indeed, there comes to pass today the saying of our Lord Jesus Christ, “and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matt. 24:12. And it comes to pass in fulfillment of, the prophecy of Jeremiah: when the call to repentance is sounded, there comes the answer, “there is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will everyone do the imagination of his evil heart,” Jer. 18:12.
This declining spiritualness is often manifest in worship services that become more and more man-centered, rather than properly God-centered. There comes an increasing cry for less sound exegetical preaching, and the corresponding desire for more liturgy. The emphasis is often that we must make worship services more entertaining and more relevant, to the detriment of true God-glorifying worship which is sanctified unto the living and Holy God in reverence and godly fear. Modern preaching has come to so emphasize man’s earthly needs in the social. sphere, and man’s responsibility with respect to this world, that there is no longer a consciousness of our deepest need for the forgiveness of sin. And lest we be misled to desire the same, may we remember our reformed heritage. We remember when the congregation came to church, the proclaimed Word completely emptied the elect sinners, so that they fell in holy reverence before God’s Holiness—then to be filled with the blessedness of God’s grace in Christ which saves, and thus were renewed in a life of sanctification unto the service of God. And so it still is where the reformed faith is held precious. The whole life of our fathers was God-centered in their worship, in their daily walk, and in their confession. Thus it ought to be in the church; and thus it shall be where the Scriptures are rightly divided and soundly expounded from Sabbath to Sabbath. For the Scripture reveals God to be the Holy God, well pleased with the righteous in Christ, but a consuming fire unto the wicked walking in impenitent sin.
God reveals throughout Scripture, and the reformed faith holds precious, His Holiness. It is in His Holiness that God is incomparable with any other. “To whom then will ye liken me or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.” Isaiah 40:25. God in His holiness stands alone—He is by and of Himself God. Dare we attempt, then, to make Him common? To confess “the Holy One”, is to speak of His incomparable majesty, glory, and sovereignty! Never can the comparison of God so be made that He stands on a par, on the basis of equality with the creature. It is exactly His Holiness—that He is the God of ethical perfection, the sole good with no imperfection or darkness in Him—that causes Him to be incomparable as God. Perfectly God is consecrated unto Himself as the Holy One; and, as the Holy One, God is glorious and alone worthy of all praise.
When man, therefore, comes before the presence of that holiness of God he must confess that naturally before God he cannot stand. He of necessity is emptied of all boasting, and of all self-esteem. This was the reaction of Isaiah when coming before the revelation of the Holy God. “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts,”Is. 6:5. When Isaiah in vision saw the Lord sitting upon a throne on high, and the seraphims crying out, “Holy, holy, holy,” he stood in the presence of the holiness of the sovereign God. And he is wholly amazed, realizing that he was but sinful man.
Always the above ought to be the effect of coming before the revelation of our God—also from Sabbath to Sabbath through the preaching. For in the preaching the Holy God addresses His people, and in the Word stands just as surely before them. How then can we help but, in uttermost humility and prayer, worship God under the Word? According toIsaiah 29:19 we are instructed that it is the meek that shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Thus God saith that meekness and humility is the only proper attitude that dare be assumed towards our God, Who forever seeks His own perfect glory. And on the other hand the wicked who are so brazen to exalt themselves against God taste His consuming wrath.
But then who can stand before God? Praise be the Holy One, for He is the God of all grace! The Holy One is Redeemer, and exactly as the Holy One. “As for our redeemer, the Lord of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel,” Isaiah 47:4. In holiness God consumes the sins of His elect people by burning in holy wrath upon our Lord Jesus Christ until His wrath is utterly quenched. And as the Holy One, by the Spirit and Word of His Son, He purifies and sanctifies His own, that they might be consecrated unto Him in service and in love. And, further, by His Word rightly proclaimed the Holy One efficaciously calls His children to repentance and holiness. “But as He which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy,” I Peter 1:15-16.
By grace the church hears and heeds this word of her God. She is emptied of all man-centeredness; she desires, longs for, and in principle becomes God-centered in all things. And as she is cleansed by Christ’s blood and sanctified by His Word and Spirit, her members become pilgrims in this world, sanctifying the Lord God in their hearts, heeding the word of the apostle in I Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” And thus in till things—their worship, their prayer, and all their life—God’s Name receives the glory. Let our prayer be for grace to hold fast this faith of our fathers.