The Holiness of God
Here is an excerpt from The Holiness of God by the recently deceased, RC Sproul. Here, he talks about the utter holiness of God and the hope that the Jews longed for and the promise that we, as Christians, have; to see God face to face in his full glory.
Men are not allowed to see the face of God. The Scriptures warn that no man can see God and live. We remember Moses' request when he ascended into the holy mountain of God. Moses had been an eyewitness of astonishing miracles. He had heard the voice of God speaking to him out of the burning bush. He had witnessed the river Nile turn into blood. He had tasted manna from heaven and gazed upon the pillar of fire. He had seen the chariots of Pharoah inundated by the waves of the Red Sea. Still, he was not satisfied. He wanted more. He craved the ultimate spiritual experience. He inquired of the Lord on the mountain, "let me see your face. Show me your glory." The request was denied.
And the Lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see my face and live." Then the Lord said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back, but my face must not be seen." (Exodus 33:19-23, NIV)
When God told Moses that he could see HIs back, the literal reading of the text can be translated "hindquarters but never His face. When Moses returned from the mount, his face was shining. The people were terrified, and they shrunk away from him in horror. Moses' face was too dazzling for them to look upon. So Moses put a veil over his face so the people could approach him. this experience of terror was directed at the face of a man who had come so close to God that he was reflecting God's glory. This was a reflection of the glory from the back of God, not the refulgent glory of His face. If people are terrified by the sight of the reflected glory of the back parts of God, how can anyone stand to gaze directly into his holy face?
Yet the final goal of every Christian is to be allowed to see what was denied to Moses. We want to see Him face to face. We want to bask in the radiant glory of HIs divine countenance. It was the hope of every Jew, a hope instilled in the most famous and beloved benediction of Israel:
The LORD bless thee and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
This hope, crystallized in the benediction of Israel, becomes more than a hope for the Christian- it becomes a promise. St. John tells in his first letter:
Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
Here is the promise of God: We shall see Him as He is. Theologians call this future expectation Beatific Vision. We will see God as He is. This means that someday we will God face to face. We will not see the reflected glory of a burning bush or a pillar of cloud. We will see Him as He is, as He is in His pure divine essence.
Right now it is impossible for us to see God in His pure essence. Before that can ever happen we must be purified. When Jesus taught the Beatitudes, He promised only a distinct group the vision of God: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." None of us in this world is pure in heart. It is our impurity that prevents us from seeing God. The problem is not with our eyes; it is with our hearts. Only after we are purified and totally sanctified in heaven will we have the capacity to gaze upon Him face to face.
Light From Light
Gerald O'Collins & Mary Ann Meyers
As we continue exploring the theme of light in scripture this Advent season, here is an excerpt from Light From Light by O'Collins and Meyers about the intersection of science and theology concerning physical and spiritual significance of light.
In biblical imagery "light" comes across as thoroughly interconnected with "glory," or the splendor/radiance of the divine presence. One can describe "glory" (
Human beings, while they cannot see the deity as such, can perceive the glory that symbolizes God's presence. Moses is granted a fleeting glimpse of God's"glory" (Exod. 33:18-23). This visible divine glory serves as a kind of envelope for the unearthly bright light that, paradoxically, veils GOd's being. ONe of the New Testament's pastoral letters expresses this conviction: "God dwells in unapproachable light; him no one has ever seen or can ever see" (1 Tim. 6:16) A screen of light hides God, who is utterly holy and beyond human perception. God remains an invisible figure. "Light" articulates and symbolizes this divine otherness and holiness.
The Light of Hope - Isaiah 9: 2,6
This week began our yearly tradition of Advent, looking forward to the celebration of Jesus' birth on Christmas. Our theme for Advent this year is light, and in our first week Pastor Duane takes us Isaiah 9 to talk about "The Prophecy Candle of Hope."
Advent is one of our Church's big Christmas traditions during the Christmas season. What personal or family tradition are you most looking forward to this upcoming season?
Let's read the passage and discuss:
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
[Isaiah 9:2,6 ESV]
Was there anything that you really enjoyed about the passage? Anything that was interesting? Confusing?
Pastor Duane arranged the discussion of Hope into 3 points from the passage:
At the time of this prophecy from
Duane mentioned that there is a spiritual darkness in our land, San Diego, the US, what are some ways you've seen that darkness?
We went into even greater detail here about what darkness is, and Duane brought in some ideas from Thomas Aquinas about 3 types of darkness that God's light helps us overcome: ignorance, sin, and condemnation.
Ignorance is our inability to know God and
How have you seen this form of darkness in the world?
Sin is our inability to think about God correctly, twisting His word and truth.
How can we know when we're twisting God's word and truth?
Condemnation is the guilt spiral we find ourselves as we camp in the shame resulting from our own failures and feelings of being unwanted and unloved.
What are some things you find yourself doing when you are "camping in your condemnation?" What are some things that bring you out of that?
God's light saves us from the
How would you explain "light" to someone?
Why do you think
The Prophet Isaiah promises the people that as dark as it seems now, a great dawn is coming and in verse 6 he reveals the light of that dawn to be God's own Son.
Duane took us to Matthew 4:13-17 to show Jesus coming back the same spot where Isaiah originally delivered the prophecy about the Savior and pronounces that the He, the light of the world has come.
What are some things that Jesus' light allow you to hope for?
(hope meaning assurance of realization)
Pray as a group, thanking God for sending us
Christ the Light
The theme of our advent season is light and what it means for Jesus to be our light and for us to live in the light of the Gospel. Here is an excerpt from Christ the Light by David L. Whidden III, where he takes a look at the theme of light through the writings of Thomas Aquinas.
What God does as teacher is share his own goodness with us and constantly make himself manifest to us. One of the words that appears consistently in the context of illumination with regard to God is "manifestation," based on things manifest to us and without it, we cannot see. God is constantly reaching toward us through a variety of means, internal and external, to communicate who he is and that we should love him. God is supremely knowable to God and shares that supreme knowledge with us, both through creation and revelation, out of the love of his goodness. God is not some remote deity that ignores us, but one constantly reaching out to us, Thr primary of the Father of lights is our knowledge of God that comes from God's own self-knowledge. Holy teaching, then, is based on God's infallible self-manifestation to us, based upon his goodness.
Resolved Christmas Gift!
This December at The Resolved Church, we are raising money for a year-end Christmas gift. We are resolved to be a giving people and want to bless our church and our city! Our giving goal is $75K which will go to:
We have over 150 envelopes on our Resolved Christmas Gift wall. If everyone takes one envelope and gives the amount written on it we will reach our goal! We are encouraging each person (including every family member!) to participate in this experience where we get to reflect the generosity of our God who has given us the greatest gift in sending Jesus Christ into the world.
Come on a Sunday, grab an envelope off the wall, and be part of the Resolved Christmas Gift!
Once you grab an envelope, you can either put the physical amount in it and put it in one of our giving boxes or go to the giving kiosk and give the amount digitally. You can also give your gift online now, marking which envelope you’re taking, and we’ll remove it from the wall for you.
Advent: Light Has Come
You can get our Advent Guide for FREE at the Connect Booth or R | KIDS desk with a suggested donation of $5. Or order online Advent: Light Has Come
“I have come into the world as
believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
- Jesus Christ, the Son of God
For most Americans, Christmas is a very special and festive time of year. It’s the number one gifts and shopping season of the year, a time where houses are decorated inside and out, and a time where families and close friends spend quality time together, all leading up to the apex day on December 25th.
Today, much is associated with Christmas which has little to do with its origins: the birth of Jesus Christ. Historically, followers of Jesus Christ have celebrated not just the one day commemorating His birth but given an entire month to reflect on the significance and goodness of God coming to earth in Jesus called, “Advent."
The word "Advent" comes from the Latin word
Julie Canlis in her book, Theology of the Ordinary, says this coming of God to us in Christ is, “God’s most fundamental blessing upon creation. In the incarnation, God took
In Christian history, followers of Jesus have used four candles, lighting one for each week of Advent during times they set aside to seek God and reflect on the goodness of Him becoming human for us. Each week focuses on a different aspect of His coming.
We have created a devotional booklet as a guide for you as an individual, with your significant other, and/or with your family during this Advent season. We encourage you to set aside some time to light the number of candles for the week and follow one of the week’s Advent guides. We’ve provided three guides for each week.
Pastor Duane Smets
A Jesus Worth Believing In
This week Duane discussed worth, the worth of Jesus and how much He thinks we're worth.
What item that you own is worth the most to you? An item you would pay an outrageous amount of money to keep.
Let's read the passage:
4 "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
8 "And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." 14 But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?" 15 And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." 16 And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' 18 And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry."' 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." [Luk 12:4-21 ESV]
Was there anything in the passage that struck you? Challenged you? Raised questions with you?
Duane broke this teaching from Jesus into three ideas for us to think on:
The Worth of the Sparrow
The Worth of the Spirit
The Worth of the Soul
THE WORTH OF THE SPARROW
Jesus is inviting the people in to a different way to see worth. To see the worth of things from the perspective of God. He has a very different way to measure worth because He needs nothing.
Jesus points out that our fear is often misplaced. We fear things that are temporal and lose no sleep over things that are eternal. He says we shouldn't fear people, but fear God.
How do you explain fearing God? What would that look like?
Why do we so often fear people more than God?
Jesus also says we should fear God because He "has authority to cast into hell", Duane read from Jonathan Edwards who expanded on that idea describing hell as "not the absence of God but his presence"
Why would that be something to be afraid of? What do you think our culture in San Diego thinks about hell?
THE WORTH OF THE SPIRIT
Jesus goes on to explain how one escapes hell and gets into heaven. He explains that we will be judged by God (Ecc 12: 14-15) and can be saved by acknowledging Jesus as Son and receiving His forgiveness. Jesus is telling this to people before He has died, preparing them for what they are about to see.
Duane explained that forgiveness only works if someone pays the price, was there a time you had to forgive someone? Who ended up paying the price?
Those who acknowledge Jesus as the Son are not just forgiven, they're also given The Spirit of God to live within the. (John 14:16)
Duane mentioned many benefits of having the Spirit within us, including:
We're never alone
Reminds us that we're valuable
Reminds us of God's word
Gives us courage to take on the world and talk about Jesus
Which of these benefits have you needed most in your life this week?
THE WORTH OF THE SOUL
Someone in the crowd brings a question to Jesus, asking him for judgement about a dispute. Jesus addresses the man's heart by again redefining worth as what God values.
He tells a the story about the rich man who hordes his riches and then dies. Highlighting the difference between economic security and eternal security.
Duane explained that we all have 3 gifts to invest in this life: time, talent and treasure.
How are you investing your time towards eternal things? Your talent? Your treasure?
What are some ways you can begin investing those gifts properly?
Jesus takes on hedonism and materialism with His story. Duane explained that life consists in the abundance of Christ, not in the abundance of things.
What can you do to live a life in the abundance of Christ?
Pray with your goup, that we wouldn't be a church that covets, but a church that blesses and realizes what Jesus is worth, what the Spirit is worth, and what God believes we are worth.
Here is an excerpt from Jerry Bridges book The Joy of Fearing God where he talks about the proper role of fear in our relationship with God.
Great thoughts about God will lead naturally to realistic thoughts about ourselves. We begin to realize how little we know, how uncertain and unpredictable life is, and consequently how little we’re actually in control of anything. We begin to see that we’re physically and spiritually frail and
Bridges, Jerry. The Joy of Fearing God (p. 131).
A Jesus Who is The Light
Opening Question: Have you ever warned someone or been warned by someone about a dangerous situation that was about to happen? What was the response or outcome?
*This week we are looking at some of Jesus’ teachings. What’s going on in this situation? What's the context? Who are these teachings directed towards?
*What is Jesus’ demeanor in this passage? How would you describe his choice of words?
*What are some of the warnings Jesus gives in this passage?
*Why does Jesus call the eye “the lamp of the body?” (An eye that is healthy describes a spiritually healthy way of looking at things. A bad eye, or evil way of looking at things, results in a life full of moral and spiritual darkness.)
*Why do you think Jesus addresses the people the way that He does? What would be your response if someone spoke to you this way?
*Why does Jesus say that it’s what’s on the inside that matters?
*Verse 46 says that the lawyers hold the people to higher standards than the scripture makes necessary and then do nothing to help them actually fulfill those things. Why is this dangerous? (teaches moralism and they aren’t shepherding and caring for the people God has entrusted to them)
*What are some of the ways in which you look at things that
*Living in the world of social media can be tough. There’s a constant pressure to have it all together, or at least seem like you do. What are some ways that you struggle with trying to appear like you have it all together? (vulnerability begets vulnerability here)
*What are some areas in your life that you need the “light of Christ” to shine in?
This week pastor Duane touched on how the sin of pride can pervade every aspect of our spiritual lives. Here is an excerpt from C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity expounding on the subject.
The vice I am
Does this seem to you exaggerated? If so, think it over. I pointed out a moment ago that the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or
Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. The sexual impulse may drive two men into competition if they both want the same girl. But that is only by accident; they might just as likely have wanted two different girls. But a proud man will take your girl from you, not because he wants her, but just to prove to himself that he is a better man than you. Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.