Book Review: Holy, Holy, Holy, by Ligonier Ministries
Confronted With Holiness: A Review of Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God (Ligonier Ministries, 2010).
One of the most beneficial treatments for a Christian’s spiritual anemia is a regular confrontation with the holiness of God because it causes a radical reorientation in the way he thinks about God, His holiness, and his own relationship to Him. The book Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God is a result of the 2009 Ligonier Ministries National Conference, which was themed “The Holiness of God” (vi). R.C. Sproul contributed the first chapter in which he describes the standard misconception about God amongst Americans. “We are a people who believe that God can bless a nation, but we refuse to accept the idea that God can judge a nation”; regardless of what we believe, God is alone holy and sovereign, and it is with Him that we must deal (10-11).
In the following three chapters, Sinclair B. Ferguson explores the holiness of God the Father, Steven J. Lawson does the same for the holiness of Jesus Christ, and Alistair Begg extrapolates the holiness of the Holy Spirit. The book then builds upon this foundational understanding of God’s holiness with succeeding chapters which demonstrate the applications and implications of holiness on the lives of Christians. In one of them D.A. Carson explores the nature of the church as a community chosen and set apart by God to be holy. He writes concerning the holiness of the entire congregation, “All of us have access, now that the veil has been torn, into the very presence of the living God. To start introducing a double-tier standard of holiness or of consecration makes no sense this side of the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (79). W. Robert Godfrey writes about the steep cost of salvation, “Sin upon sin upon sin upon sin upon sin, all laid on the Savior on the cross. It is no trivial thing" (103). Derek W. H. Thomas’s contribution to the book is about “The Necessity of Sanctification.” Concerning 1Peter 1 he writes, “He wants us to see that in the plan and purpose of God, the whole scheme of the plan of redemption, from the secret counsels of God in eternity until the very last day, is the sanctification of believers in the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ” (109). The final chapter, written by R. C. Sproul, is an argument that if God is holy, then He must also be just and that He judges in wrath.
The greatest strength of this book is that the contributors show through careful exegesis that God is both terrifyingly holy and amazingly gracious. The various chapters bring into active contemplation for the reader the startling otherness of God and the consequent lavishness of sinners being ushered into His presence. This book is an excellent resource for anyone desiring to be surprised again at the awe-inspiring nature of the love of God and for anyone feeling a need for motivation in their personal, familial, or congregational striving for holiness.
Joshua D. McConnell