“Dude! How did you get your hands on a backstage pass for Maiden!?” When I was a teen, I could not believe it when friends had backstage passes to some of my favorite bands. Why? Because these bands were bigger than life, and their shows were bigger still. To meet the band and to pull the curtain back on how the show was put together would mean that you had access. For me, this was like meeting royalty… metal royalty!
After dying as a missionary to India in 1826, Reginald Herber’s widow gathered all fifty-seven hymns he had written during his sixteen years pastoring a small congregation in the obscure town of Hognet, England. The hymns were then published as “Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Service of the Calendar Year.”
Found in this collection of hymns was “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” This wonderful Trinitarian song of worship captures the amazing account of Revelation chapter 4 (specifically Revelation 4:8-11). Now this is really pulling the curtain back! This is an almost indescribable revelation of the worship of God in Heaven.
When God pulls back the curtain for the Apostle John in these verses, John does not witness what Dorothy and her friends saw in “The Wizard of Oz” – a bumbling buffoon, who is a broken, dishonest, and manipulative being (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWyCCJ6B2WE). But rather, he witnesses the Thrice-Holy, uncreated creator of all… God Almighty!
Have you stopped to consider the holiness of God? Indeed, holiness is the only attribute of God that is repeated three times in the Scripture for emphasis: Holy, Holy, Holy!
Consider the words of A.W. Tozer, in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, as he discusses the prophet Isaiah’s vision of God:
“The sudden realization of his personal depravity came like a stroke from heaven upon the trembling heart of Isaiah at the moment when he had his revolutionary vision of the holiness of God. His pain-filled cry, ‘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,’ expresses the feeling of every man who has discovered himself under his disguises and has been confronted with an inward sight of the holy whiteness that is God. Such an experience cannot but be emotionally violent.
Until we have seen ourselves as God see us, we are not likely to be much disturbed over conditions around us as long as they do not get so far out of hand as to threaten our comfortable way of life. We have learned to live with unholiness and have come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing. We are not disappointed that we do not find all truth in our teachers of faith or faithfulness in our politicians or complete honesty in our merchants or full trustworthiness in our friends. That we may continue to exist we make such laws as are necessary to protect us from our fellow men and let it go at that.
Neither the writer nor the reader of these words is qualified to appreciate the holiness of God. Quite literally a new channel must be cut through the desert of our minds to allow the sweet waters of truth that will heal our great sickness to flow in. We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of.
God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible, and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine.”
We don’t have to wait till heaven to worship God in amazement of His grace, glory, and majesty. We already have “access” through Christ because of His work on the Cross!
“God in three persons, blessed Trinity!”
The hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” is a wonderful song that proclaims the doctrine of the Trinity.
Two Important Truths About the Trinity
Truth #1 – Theological
Biblical Christianity requires us to affirm that in one sense God is one and that in another sense God is three. God Almighty is one in essence subsisting eternally as three distinct persons.
The Scriptures clearly teach that God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5), and also clearly teach that God is three distinct persons: the Father is God (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2); the Son is God (John 1:1, John 1:14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20); and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).
One of the earliest heresies in the church was something known as modalism. What modalism claims is that God is one person that has existed in different “modes.” This means that God is not, at once, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but rather that at one point in time God existed as the Father, then at another time the Son, and yet at another time the Holy Spirit.
Truth #2 – Relational
The modalist heresy precludes the eternal relationship of all three persons of the Trinity. Yet, this is an important (and very practical) reality of the doctrine of the Trinity. Because we are made in the image of God, and God is in eternal triune relationship, God made us for relationship – relationship with the Trinity and relationship with one another.
As Theologian Bruce Ware says in his book “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance,” “So, look at the Trinity and think again about what it means to be human. Yes, the relationships in the Trinity call for and call forth a created community of persons. We need to think very hard about this in our churches. It is one of the reasons a small group ministry is such a good thing. Small groups are one key way in which we can establish, in our churches, communities of interconnection and interdependence. Surely this is also one of the main reasons that the Spirit assigns gifts to each believer in the body of Christ, so that we will both give to one another and depend on one another in our growing in Christ. Interconnection and interdependence are key themes we see in the Trinity that we need to see lived out increasingly in our lives and churches. Let’s give thoughtful and prayerful attention to building Trinity-like communities of interdependence and interconnection with one another, working with each other, for each other, and doing so with harmony and love for one another.”
Finally, Jesus prayed for us at the end of His earthly ministry, that we would have the same oneness with each other as He has with the Father! Just think about it. If Jesus prays that we would be one with each other in relationship, then it must be possible. That is great news!
John 17:20-23 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”