The Holiness of God

Behold Your God: The Holiness of God | Exodus 15:11
Brian Hedges | October 4, 2020

Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles to Exodus 15:11. Probably all of us know what the letters PTSD stand for: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Maybe you have known someone who suffered from PTSD, maybe a veteran who served in war or someone who’s been through some tremendous and traumatic kind of trial, maybe a traffic accident, car accident, or something like that.

I’ve never experienced PTSD myself, but as a pastor I’ve had opportunities, of course, to talk to people and counsel people who have been through horrific things. I one time had a friend who was a police officer who was on the scene of a terrible traffic accident, where people were killed, and he suffered some of the symptoms of this afterwards and just needed to talk. Just as he talked through his experience, I began to feel some of the trauma that he must have felt when he went through that experience.

When people go through trials like that, they go through experiences like that, it changes their lives. It marks them in a certain way, and sometimes it’s hard even to move on. PTSD has been defined as a disorder in which “a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.”

Well, this morning we’re going to talk about what R.C. Sproul has called “the trauma of holiness.” I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about the holiness of God and an encounter with the holiness of God as something that might leave you with PTSD, but if you look at the people in Scripture who encountered God in person, it marked them, it changed them. The things that they say would indicate that it left them traumatized in some way.

For example, when Abraham had that encounter with God in Genesis 15, when he made this sacrifice and God came down in the form of this burning lamp and smoking torch, afterwards, the text tells us, “dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.”

When his grandson Jacob had the vision of the ladder from heaven and the angels of God ascending and descending on that ladder, he afterwards said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it,” and he was afraid.

When Moses said to God, “Show me your glory,” the Lord said, “Nobody can see my face and live, but this is what I’ll do. I’ll put you in a cleft in the rock and I’ll pass by, and you’ll see my back parts, and I’ll proclaim my name.” The Lord did that in Exodus 33 and 34. “And Moses made haste and bowed to the ground in worship.”

Or think about Job. You remember Job, all the suffering that he experienced? He said he wanted his day in court; he wanted his day to stand before God and to plead his case. He’s a plaintiff before the Judge of the universe. But when he finally gets his audience with God and God just begins to question him for several chapters (“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?), do you remember Job’s response afterwards? He said, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Example after example after example of people who met God in Scripture and were traumatized by the encounter with his holiness.

This morning we’re going to look at the holiness of God. We’re continuing in our series, “Behold Your God,” ten weeks that we’re giving to a study of the being and the character of God. We’ve so far considered God’s glory and his greatness in Isaiah 40; last week we looked at the mystery of the Trinity, that when we think about God and his character we must always remember that God is Triune; he is Father, Son, and Spirit; he is one God, one Being, one Essence, but he exists in three eternal Persons.

This morning as we look at the holiness of God we are considering the God who is “holy, holy, holy,” the God who is Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Spirit. We’re going to look at a number of texts, but I think a foundational text, one of the earliest texts in the Bible that speaks of the holiness of God, is in Exodus 15.

I’m just going to read one verse, Exodus 15:11, but this verse occurs in the middle of the song of Moses. This is the song that was sung after Israel was delivered from Egypt, after they had passed through the Red Sea and God had defeated their enemies, drowning Pharaoh and his armies in the Red Sea. In the middle of that song of deliverance we read these words, Exodus 15:11: “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”

This is the word of the Lord.

As we consider the holiness of God, I want to ask three questions. I want us to ask: what is God's holiness, where do we see it, and how should we respond to it? That’s the outline for the message.

1. What is God's holiness? 

I think we could define God’s holiness by saying it’s a combination of these three things: it is God’s otherness, it his beauty, and it is his purity. It’s those three ideas together that communicate something of the holiness of God.

(1) First of all, it is the otherness of God. It’s the idea here that God is transcendently different than we are. He is utterly and completely alien to what we are. He is in a class all by himself. The Hebrew root of the word for “holy” is a word that means “to cut,” and we could say, as one author has put it, that God is “a cut above” every other being in the universe. He’s in a class all by himself.

You see it right here in the text: “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”

Of course, the implied answer is, “No one is like you,” and indeed, Scripture tells us this. “There is no one holy like the Lord,” Hannah says in 1 Samuel 2. No one is like God. God is completely and utterly different than we are. He is other. It’s the otherness of God. He is in a category by himself.

A.W. Tozer, who I’ve already quoted in this series, is helpful on the holiness of God. Tozer said, “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—” and by the natural man he means the unbeliever, the non-Christian “—the natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire his wisdom, but his holiness he cannot even imagine.”

The first thing that I just want us to get this morning is that God’s holiness, his character, the quality of his character and the quality of his being, is so foreign to what we know that we can’t fully grasp it. It’s part of the incomprehensibility of God. We can’t fully grasp the holiness of God; we can only kind of peer into the throne room of God. We can overhear the angels saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory!” We can get a little sense, a little glimmer of what the holiness of God is, but we can’t plumb the depths of his holiness. We simply need to understand that God is different than we are, qualitatively different than we are. This is the otherness of God.

(2) Along with this, the holiness is the beauty of God. It’s the splendor of God. Psalm 96:9 says, “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; fear before him, all the earth.” Our main text this morning, Exodus 15:11, says that God is majestic in holiness, or you might translate that he is beautiful in holiness, or glorious in holiness. He is fully of the splendor of holiness. These different words—beauty, majesty, glory, splendor—they all carry an aesthetic quality, don’t they? That which has perfection, that which has perfect proportion, that which is essentially and intrinsically good, that which is beautiful. The holiness of God, on one level, is a terrifying reality. I’ve already talked about the trauma of holiness. But it’s also a beautiful reality. It is the kind of beauty that when people saw it they were entranced, they were transfixed, they were fascinated. They were utterly captured by the beauty of the holiness of God, even as they felt unworthy to gaze upon it.

The New England theologian Jonathan Edwards said, “Holiness is a most beautiful and lovely thing. We drink in strange notions of holiness from our childhood, as if it were a melancholy, morose, sour, and unpleasant thing; but there is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely.” You can see that Edwards is just stretching the limits of language there, reaching for words to try to describe this glorious aspect of God’s character, the beauty of God’s holiness.

(3) But then, also, the holiness of God is his purity. It is his moral and ethical purity, his complete righteousness, his uprightness. The prophet Habakkuk says that “God is of purer eyes than to see evil, and he cannot look at wrong.”

I think the purity of God is especially in the images that are used of God in Scripture. What are the two main images used of God in Scripture? Fire and light. Fire, the blazing, unquenchable fire of God’s holiness, that consumes everything that is evil, everything that is wrong. Then the light of God’s holiness, the brilliant, radiant glory that God is, and the light, the undiminished, unspotted character of God.

1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

God is light! That means everything that is good is in God, and there is no darkness at all in him, there is no evil in him. God is true, and he is truth, and there is no lie in him. He is love, and he is loving, and there is no impurity in him, no lust in him. God is perfect in wisdom, in goodness, in beauty, in power, in truthfulness, in faithfulness. Think any quality, any moral quality that you can conceive of—God has it to an exponential degree. He has it more than any other being in the universe has it. He embodies that goodness, that purity, and there is no impurity in him. This is the light of God’s holiness.

It’s because God is holy and we are not that when we come face to face with a holy God we are immediately met with the reality of judgment, because that light exposes our darkness, and because that burning holiness blazes against our sin. Isaiah 33:14, speaking of God coming in judgment, says, “The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless. Who among us can dwell with a consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?” This is the holiness of God: his otherness, his beauty, his purity.

Now, I’m just reaching for illustrations this morning, and one that is on my mind because I just saw this film in the last week is the old Steven Spielberg science fiction film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Anybody ever seen this film? This is a very imperfect illustration, but I think it does capture something that I think we need to understand. This is a fascinating portrayal of people who have encounters with extraterrestrials, aliens. But it’s not really an alien movie; it’s a science fiction movie, but you only see the aliens at the very end of the film. The film is really a drama more than an action film, and it’s about these people who get a glimpse, right? They see the alien ship, they see the light, and the effect on every one of them is that they are utterly transfixed. They are obsessed with understanding, “What has happened to me? What did I experience? What was that?” They are completely fascinated with the possibility that there is a being other than a human being.

At the same time, the people around them, who have not seen this, think they’re crazy. They just think they’re crazy! There’s fear when the lights come, and especially, if you’ve ever seen the film, you remember the one scene in the film—it’s the scariest scene in the movie—when a woman with her five-year-old son is in this house, and the aliens come, and they just hear loud noises, and there’s light coming in from every window, every nook and cranny of this house, light from the door. You can kind of get part of it in the poster there.

The woman, the mom, is completely terrified. This little five-year-old son is completely fascinated and is drawn to the light, he’s just moving towards it, and he actually leaves. He’s abducted by the aliens. Now (spoiler alert!) at the end of the movie he’s returned, and he’s completely fine. It wasn’t a bad thing.

But I was thinking this week about the otherness of God, and I just saw this movie Tuesday night, and how these people responded to this encounter with something different than they are. I think if you take an idea like that and you intensify it infinitely, you begin to get a feel of what people in the Scripture felt when they encountered the God who is other than we are, the God who is glorious and majestic in holiness, the God is characterized by complete and utter purity, the God who is light and fire. They were terrified, they were fascinated, they were transfixed, and once they met him they were never the same.

This is the holiness of God, and you and I also need an encounter. We need an encounter with the holiness of God, which we get when we encounter God in his word through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

2. Where do we see it? 

Second question: Where, then, do we see God’s holiness? (1) Obviously, the first place we see God’s holiness is in the theophanies of Scripture. A theophany is simply an appearance of God in the Old Testament, when God appeared in some way to people in the Old Testament. I’ve already mentioned a number of these, but perhaps the most famous of all these theophanies, these appearances of God, is Isaiah, in Isaiah 6. I want to read part of that passage, Isaiah 6:1-5. Many of you have read this before or heard this before.

“In the year that King Uzziah died,” Isaiah’s writing here; he says, “I saw the Lord, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim—” The seraphim are angelic creatures mentioned only here, in all of Scripture. We don’t know exactly what they were or who they were, but they are these angelic creatures that are in the throne room of God. “Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings; with two he covered his face [because they could not look at God], with two he covered his feet [because in their creatureliness they are unworthy to be in the presence of this God], and with two he flew. And one called to another and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts! The whole earth is full of his glory!’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am lost! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.’”

Here is Isaiah the prophet, perhaps the most righteous man on the earth at the time of this writing, and when Isaiah, this holy prophet of God, sees the Lord of Hosts, he is reduced to psychological shambles! When he says, “I am lost,” the word literally means, “I am disintegrated. I am undone. This thread in my human nature has been pulled on, and I am just unraveling.” That’s what happened to people when they saw the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, if there’s nothing else we get this morning from the word of God, I hope it’s this, that the holiness of God is such a great and a transcendent reality that none of us are worthy to be in the presence of a holy God, and we need to feel that unworthiness deep in our bones. To whatever we degree we enter into worship or we go to prayer flippantly, trivially, as if it’s no big deal, we’re just talking to the man upstairs, we have not encountered the holiness of God! We don’t know the true God.

They hymn writers knew it. They understood this. The hymn writer Thomas Binney said,

“Eternal light, eternal light,
How pure the soul must be,
When placed within thy searching sight,
It shrinks not, but with calm delight
Can live and look on thee.

“The spirits that surround thy throne
May bear the burning bliss;
But that is surely theirs alone,
Since they have never, never known
A fallen world like this.”

How pure the soul must be that can be in the presence of the eternal light. The author is saying, “That’s not me, because I’m fallen.” Just like Isaiah is saying, “I’m fallen. I’m undone. I’m unclean, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” These theophanies in Scripture show us the holiness of God.

Here’s just a brief application point. One reason you and I need the Old Testament is because the Old Testament Scriptures are giving us this progressive revelation of who God is, disclosing to us the character of this God. You need these stories. Now, we are New Testament, new covenant Christians, but we have a whole Bible, and the Old Testament Scriptures are Scriptures for the church. The God revealed in the Old Testament is the same God revealed in Jesus Christ. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

(2) These theophanies reveal God’s holiness, and then secondly, God’s holy law. I’ll just mention this and not expound, but the old writers used to say that the law of God was "the transcript of his character." In fact, the whole Old Testament system of sacrifice—what’s it there for? Why this elaborate system of priests and sacrifices? You have seven different kinds of sacrifices, don’t you, in the first few chapters of Leviticus. Why all these different kinds of sacrifices? Why these festivals every year? Why a Day of Atonement? Why a temple? Why the Holy of Holies? Why is the color of every thread in the Old Testament temple specified? What is God trying to communicate through this? Is that just legalism?

No, what God is communicating is that for God to dwell in the midst of a sinful people there must be safety measures and precautions. God must be approached in a certain way. He must be approached with reverence and with awe. There must be sacrifice and atonement, there must be a covering for sin, there must be a way of being purified.

It’s actually the grace of God that gave this, that gave the law of God and that gave the whole sacrificial system, that gave this to his people, so that he could dwell among them! Of course, all of that is pointing forward to the Lord Jesus Christ, who fulfills all of that typology, who is himself the great Priest, the great sacrifice, the temple of the Lord.

(3) God also reveals his holiness through his works of judgment and salvation. You see that in Exodus 15. Go home and read all of Exodus 15, and what you’re going to see is that this is a song that is celebrating God’s triumph over Egypt, his judgment of the wicked, and it is celebrating God’s redemption of his people, the people of Israel.

You remember how God did this. Remember the plagues of Egypt? Remember that final plague, the death of the firstborn, Passover? The only way that God could pass through the encampment, this mixture of Egyptians and the Israelites—they only way he could pass through and not destroy the Israelites was if there was a sacrificial lamb, there was a Passover lamb that had been sacrificed. They’re covered by the blood, and God says, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” He redeems them through a blood sacrifice, and then he triumphs over their enemies in the miracle of the Red Sea. Those works of judgment and salvation, those mighty acts of God, those are displaying his holiness. Again, it’s right there in the text, Exodus 15:11. “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”

(4) God’s holiness is seen supremely in Christ and in his cross. Everything about Jesus’ life was fragranced with the aroma of holiness.

You remember that before Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, the angel came to Mary and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

When Jesus began his ministry, the herald, the forerunner of Christ was John the Baptist. There he is in the wilderness, pointing to the one who would come and would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Even the demons—when demons encountered Jesus, when Jesus would exorcise demons from these demon-possessed people, do you remember what the demons would scream out saying? They would say, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God!”

Everything about Jesus’ character communicated the holiness of God, this beauty of holiness, this virtue, this goodness, this purity, this righteousness. Utterly perfect in holiness. The Scriptures tell us that he was holy, innocent, unstained, separate from sinners. This is who Jesus is.

I like the way Sinclair Ferguson, the theologian, puts it. He says that “in Jesus we see fully realized human holiness. The holiness of the transcendent God is incarnated in Jesus Christ, and we see holiness in human form.”

We see holiness especially in the cross. In fact, as Jesus goes to the cross, he goes to the cross praying to the Father, saying, “Father, I’m sanctifying myself.” That is, he’s setting himself apart. The word “sanctify” is closely related to the word “holy.” He’s setting himself apart, and he’s offering himself as a holy sacrifice to God, and he’s doing it so that he can sanctify his people and make them holy.

1 Peter says he was “a lamb without blemish or spot, and he ransomed us to God by offering himself without blemish to God.” In the cross we see the holiness of God. We see the holiness of God’s purity as he judges sin in the person of his Son, and we see the holiness of his grace as he passes over us as the blood of this Passover Lamb is applied to the heart and lives of those who believe. The cross was there to demonstrate, to display the holiness of God.

3. How should we respond? 

How should we respond to this? Hopefully we’re just starting to feel the weight of the holiness of God. What does that mean for us? How should we respond to God’s holiness? Let me give you three things as we draw to a close.

(1) Number one, respond with trust in the sin-atoning, sanctifying death of Jesus, God’s Holy Son. That’s the very first—in fact, it’s the only first response you can make to the holiness of God, is to look to the one who atones for your sins so that you can even have an audience with this God, so you can even be in the presence of this God.

The Scriptures tell us that Christ is our sanctification. 1 Corinthians 1:30, “Christ is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption.” That word sanctification means holiness. Christ is our holiness! How can you have a relationship with a holy God? There’s only one way: through the holy one, through Jesus Christ! If you are in Christ, if you believe in Christ, if you trust in Christ, if you are united to Christ, that means you are holy. It’s not holiness in and of yourself; it’s the holiness of Christ that envelopes you, that enwraps you, that covers you. It’s the holiness of Christ that makes you holy and that gives you access to God.

Here’s the rest of that hymn from Thomas Binney I read a few minutes ago. Let me read those first verses again, because this is a powerful message.

“Eternal light, eternal light,
How pure the soul must be,
When placed within thy searching sight,
It shrinks not, but with calm delight
Can live and look on thee.

“The spirits that surround thy throne
May bear the burning bliss;
But that is surely theirs alone,
Since they have never, never known
A fallen world like this.”

Then he asks a question; he’s personalizing this.

“Oh, how shall I, whose native sphere
Is dark, whose mind is dim,
Before the ineffable appear,
And on my naked spirit bear
The uncreated beam?”

“How can I be in the presence of a holy God?” Verse four gives the answer.

“There is a way for man to rise
To that sublime abode;
An offering and a sacrifice,
A Holy Spirit’s energies,
An advocate with God.

“These, these prepare us for the sight
Of holiness above.
The sons of ignorance and night
May dwell in the eternal light
Through the eternal love.”

Trust in the sin-atoning, sanctifying cross of Jesus Christ. Look to Christ this morning. You’re not holy. The only way you can have a relationship with a holy God is if you trust in his holy Son.

(2) Number two, pursue holiness in the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Over and again, in the Old Testament and the New, the Scriptures command us to be holy. “Therefore be holy, as I am holy, says the Lord your God.” Hebrews 12:14, “Pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

Listen: holiness is necessary, and it’s not just that positional holiness that you get in Jesus Christ, but also the practical, personal holiness. Now, it’s relative holiness. It’s not God’s absolute holiness—we’re never as holy as he is—but it’s still a purifying of the heart and of the mind and of the life. How do we get that? How do we actually begin to become holy people? Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. “An offering and a sacrifice, / A Holy Spirit’s energies, / An advocate with God,” the hymn writer says.

Or Scripture puts it, “through sanctification of the Spirit” (2 Thessalonians 2:13 and many other passages). We are sanctified—that is, we are made holy—through the Holy Spirit.

Here’s a takeaway. Do some self-examination this week. As you consider the holiness of God, bring yourself before the Lord in prayer, ask him to search you, ask him to know you, ask him to show you where in your life you lack holiness. Where is your character not like his character? He may convict you of something very specific, like lying or gossip or lust or greed or pride. Wherever it is, humble yourself before God, repent, do some heart work, and then, in the power of the Holy Spirit, begin to pursue holiness by putting sin to death and by living to righteousness. This is why we are redeemed.

(3) Then, number three (this is the final application this morning), we should respond to this holy God with worship. Worship this holy God with reverence and godly fear.

Hebrews 12:28-29: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace by which we may serve God acceptably—” the word “serve” is a worship word “—may serve [or worship] God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire.” That’s in the New Testament. That’s not an Old Testament text; that’s in the New Testament. The New Testament says that when we worship God we must worship God with reverence and with godly fear. That should be the attitude, the disposition of our hearts.

Now, that’s just not the note that is struck most of the time when we’re thinking about worship today. Most of the time, we’re thinking in terms of joy, we’re thinking in terms of excitement, we’re thinking in terms of celebration. And listen, that’s all in the Bible too. There’s no necessary conflict between joyful worship and reverent worship. But when you have joy without reverence, that joy can pretty easily degenerate into flippancy. What we’re excited about is the music—which is great—but maybe not excited about the holy God. If that happens, that’s a problem.

So my plea with you for all of us is that we would get through the externals—music styles, worship forms, lights, etc. Whether you like it or don’t like it, what we are doing on Sunday morning is coming to the presence of a holy God. Whatever your preferences for worship may be, if you’re really gripped with the holiness of God, that should be working itself out in some kind of preparation of your heart before you ever come in the doors of the church.

My guess is that for many of us, that’s not the case. We come—and I know how Sunday mornings can be. You’re just trying to get the kids out the door, you know? Just try to get there, just try to get to church! I’m just glad to make it this morning! I get it. I get it. I understand. Brothers and sisters, we need heart work. We need to prepare ourselves for worship, because we are coming to encounter the God who is holy. Let’s do so with reverence; let’s do so with godly fear.

This morning we’ve seen that God’s holiness is his otherness, his transcendent otherness (he’s different than we are), his glorious beauty, his moral purity and perfection. We see the burning light of God’s blazing holiness displayed in his law, in his works of salvation and redemption, and especially in Christ and the cross. To encounter this holy God would be traumatizing apart from Jesus Christ, but in Christ we can know this God and we can begin the process of becoming holy as well as we worship this God with reverent hearts.

Let me end with the experience of another man who encountered this God. This is not in the pages of Scripture; this is from the life of Blaise Pascal, who was a 17th-century French philosopher who was a Christian. Some of you, perhaps, have read some of his writings, Pascal’s Pensées. In 1654, he had an experience. Nobody knew about this until he died, but after he died they found that there was sewn into his coat something that he had written. He wrote out this experience, and it’s kind of an amazing thing that he wrote.

In 1654, it was on a Monday, November 23rd, from 10:30 in the evening until about half past 12—so for two hours something happened to Pascal, and this is a portion of what he wrote.

“Fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certainty, certainty, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ, God of Jesus Christ. My God and your God. Thy God shall be my God. The world forgotten and everything except God. He can only be found by the ways taught in the gospels. Greatness of the human soul. Oh, righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee. Joy! Joy, joy! Tears of joy! I have cut myself off from him. They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters. My God, wilt thou forsake me? Let me not be cut off from him forever. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ! I have cut myself off from him, shunned him, denied him, crucified him! Let me never be cut off from him. Sweet and total renunciation, total submission to Jesus Christ. Everlasting joy in return for one day’s effort on earth. I will not forget thy word. Amen.”

Have you experienced God anything like that? Transfixed by the presence of God, aware of your own unworthiness, but fleeing for refuge to Jesus Christ, his Son? This is what it means to know God. Let’s pray.

Our gracious, merciful God in heaven, we thank you for the gospel. We thank you for the good news of what Christ has done for sinners. We thank you that through Christ we are able to enter into the presence of you, our holy God. We confess this morning our sinfulness, our unworthiness. We confess our need for your mercy, for your grace. Lord, right now we flee from every refuge that we have made for ourselves to take refuge in Jesus Christ. May we hide ourselves in his wounds this morning. May we be covered by his righteousness, by his holiness, and may we be able to enter into your presence with purified hearts, as those who are in process of becoming holy, and who are even able to delight in the beauty of your holiness. Lord, that’s a miracle that requires a regenerating, life giving, transforming work of your Holy Spirit. We need it; we pray for it right now. So come, by your Spirit manifest yourself to us as we worship.

As we come to the Lord’s table, may we prepare our hearts by confessing and mourning our sins and by putting our trust and our faith in Christ and in him alone. So draw near to us, we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.