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Holy, Holy, Holy! - Isaiah 6:1-8

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Holiness sounds scary. Thoughts of dusty, cloistered halls of a monastery fill our minds when we hear the word. We might think of chants and long prayers rather than anthems and short prayers. It hardly seems like an appropriate word for the twenty-first century! But according to one theologian, God’s holiness is the one attribute that binds all His other attributes together. This is the characteristic that most uniquely describes God. Let’s consider it today.

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Holy, Holy, Holy!
Isaiah 6:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Holiness sounds scary. Thoughts of dusty, cloistered halls of a monastery fill our minds when we hear the word. We might think of chants and long prayers rather than anthems and short prayers. It hardly seems like an appropriate word for the twenty-first century! But according to one theologian, God’s holiness is the one attribute that binds all His other attributes together. This is the characteristic that most uniquely describes God. Let’s consider it today.
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20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly

20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly

Over 175 million people in the United States need some sort of vision correction. From glasses to contacts and corneal reshaping to corrective surgery, there's no question that seeing clearly improves people's quality of life. But what about our spiritual vision? With so many religious, philosophical, and ideological lenses to look through, how do we find the right lens? In this series, Skip Heitzig brings the core doctrines of Christian faith into clear focus. These are the truths that define who God is, who we are, and the choices that every person has to make.

Outline

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  1. Holiness Means Separation (vv. 1-4)

  2. Holiness Magnifies Corruption (v. 5)

  3. Holiness Mandates Purification (vv. 6-7)

  4. Holiness Motivates Commission (v. 8)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: August 9, 2020
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Holy, Holy, Holy!"
Text: Isaiah 6:1-8

Path

Holiness sounds scary. Thoughts of dusty, cloistered halls of a monastery fill our minds when we hear the word. We might think of chants and long prayers rather than anthems and short prayers. It hardly seems like an appropriate word for the twenty-first century! But according to one theologian, God's holiness is the one attribute that binds all His other attributes together. This is the characteristic that most uniquely describes God. Let's consider it today.
  1. Holiness Means Separation (vv. 1-4)
  2. Holiness Magnifies Corruption (v. 5)
  3. Holiness Mandates Purification (vv. 6-7)
  4. Holiness Motivates Commission (v. 8)
Points

Holiness Means Separation (vv. 1-4)
  • Holy is a word most people don't understand or like, but people have ruined the word by adding rules to it. Many consider holiness to be God's most unpopular attribute. But holiness is God's most noted attribute. God is called holy 637 times in the Bible.
  • In Isaiah 6, King Uzziah of Judah is mourned, but worship arose, and the people declared God's holiness.
  • The Hebrew word used for holiness is qadosh. It means "to be cut off," "separated," and "distinct." When applied to God, it refers to His apart-ness—there is none like Him. The three-fold repetition of the word holy is called the trihagion. God's holiness is the only attribute that is given a three-fold superlative declaration in the Bible.
Holiness Magnifies Corruption (v. 5)
  • When Isaiah experienced God, he said, "Woe is me" (v. 5). In seeing God, Isaiah saw his own unholiness. When standing before a holy God, many in the Bible recognized their unworthiness (Moses, Job, Peter, etc.).
  • God is the ultimate celebrity—not a rock star or athlete. As Max Lucado said, "You don't impress the officials at NASA with a paper airplane." When faced with perfect purity, even a prophet as famous as Isaiah must cry, "Woe is me."
Holiness Mandates Purification (vv. 6-7)
  • An angel touched Isaiah's mouth with coal in a symbolic gesture of purification. Isaiah's unclean lips had to be cauterized. Isaiah understood the gulf between holiness and unholiness. Cleansing is necessary because pure holiness cannot exist with unholiness.
  • Our holy God makes a way for unholy sinners through Jesus. Because Jesus' blood was shed, we are cleansed and purified. The Father does not destroy the unholy; He declares the unholy to be holy through Jesus' sacrifice (see 1 Peter 3:18).
  • Many who attend church do not see the gulf between God and humanity. Religion becomes a list of rules and regulations, leading to a self-righteous life. When we recognize that we are not holy like God, humility sets in, repentance and gratitude arise in our hearts, and we embrace what God did for us in Christ. It's God's holiness that keeps us asking for forgiveness (see 1 John 1:9).
Holiness Motivates Commission (v. 8)
  • Once we recognize God's holiness and perfection, we want to proclaim it. In verse 8, God called for someone to tell the truth, and Isaiah quickly volunteered.
  • Once you've been cleansed, you will be commissioned. Every minister should be a sinner cleansed by God who now wants to serve Him. God in His holiness convicts you; God in His love cleanses you. God in His wisdom calls you; God in His power qualifies you. All this cleansing, calling, and qualifying is rooted in God's holiness.
  • God wants us to be holy like Him because His holiness leads to our wholeness (see Leviticus 11:44-45, 1 Thessalonians 4:3a, 7, and Hebrews 12:18-29). A relationship with God is transformative; He loves us the way we are, but He loves us so much He won't leave us that way. We'll know that we are holy when we hate sin and love righteousness.
  • Holiness doesn't mean we are perfect, but it does mean we are purposeful; we are pursuing God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
  • The song the angels are singing in Isaiah 6 is the same the angels sing in Revelation 4:8. The angels never tire of God's holiness. God's holiness is a beautiful truth that outlasts trends. We are captivated by God's perfection, holiness included.
Practice

Connect Up: Only God is perfectly holy—separate from sin and the stain of unrighteousness. What are the positive and negative aspects of God's holiness? Don Stewart reminds us, "On the negative side, holiness consists of what God does and does not do. He does not look upon or participate in any sin. On the positive side, He always does that which is right." Discuss the positive and negative aspects, giving examples for both.

Connect In: How important is holiness to you personally and to the church? How should we be pursuing it in both spheres? If to be holy is to hate sin and love righteousness, as Pastor Skip said, what does this look like practically?

Connect Out: Chuck Colson said that reading about God's holiness was a catalyst in his conversion. He said it "drove [him] to my knees and dramatically challenged [his] Christian life." How can holiness lead someone to Christ? Can living a holy life act as a witness to a watching world? If so, how?

Transcript

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Holy, Holy, Holy! - Isaiah 6:1-8 - Skip Heitzig

God isn't really something to worship.

He's just waiting to destroy all of us.

I guess there's a God out there somewhere.

I hope there is a God. God isn't really something to worship.

God is everywhere.

Yes, he is everywhere, and we're glad that he is everywhere and we're glad that you are here today. And we're glad if you're not only in the building, but if you're outside viewing this we want to-- don't we want to welcome them outside. They're sitting outside. Our way of saying you're a part of us, as well as those who are joining us online.

Would you please turn in your Bibles to the book of Isaiah chapter 6? We are working our way through a great series on the character and nature of God. It's called 2020 Seeing Truth Clearly. We're going to be looking at the great teachings of the scripture regarding God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, et cetera. And we've been considering some of God's attributes, one of which is highlighted in Isaiah chapter 6.

I suppose if ever there were a religious sounding word, it would be the word holy or holiness. When people hear the term, they think of church stuff. I grew up seeing in my church something known as holy water, and I think as a kid I, kind of, walked around it because it just sort of spooked me. What is that all about? Holy water.

And then when I was 8 years old, they put me through my first holy communion. And then when people grow older, they go through the ritual sometimes known as holy matrimony. And some want to go take a tour of Israel, but they say I'm going to go visit the holy land. And we even worship someone called the Holy Spirit.

Now that word to some people is a funny sounding word simply because most people don't get it. They don't understand the meaning of it, and/or they don't like it.

There was a minister who was at a yard sale, and there was a lawn mower for sale. So he bought it. It was a good price.

The guy said it worked. The minister took it home, made sure gas was in it. The spark plug was in it. pulled the cord, it didn't work. Pulled it again, didn't work, didn't work.

Finally, the minister went back to the yard sale and said to the man who sold it to him, look, I paid good money for this thing, and the lawnmower doesn't work. And the man who sold it to him said, well, that's because you have to curse for this thing to work. And the minister look to him and said, don't you know I'm a minister? I'm a pastor. I'm a man of the cloth.

He says I don't even remember how to curse anymore. And the man smiled and said just keep pulling that rope reverend. It'll come back to you.

All of us are capable of saying things that are not good or doing things that are wholesome, but by God's grace, on the other hand, we can do things that are awesome all because of one trait of God, holiness. I know it's an odd sounding word. In fact, one author said the word conjures up images in his mind, words like thinness or gauntness, hollow eyes, beards, sandals, long robes, stone cells, no sex, no jokes, hair, shirts, frequent cold baths, fasting, long hours of prayer, wild, rocky deserts, getting up at 4:00 in the morning, clean fingernails, stained glass, self-humiliation.

Now those are images that some of us carry with us when we hear the word holy. I'll prove it to you. There's three words in that little list that make us think of somebody, beards, sandals, long robe. You think of Jesus. That's how we picture them. That's holy.

If you were to try to picture Jesus for a moment with faded blue jeans, a mustache, riding a Harley that might not be able to be something you could do, because you have the idea in your mind of what he look like. We are in Isaiah chapter 6, and I draw your attention to verse 1. "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple.

Above it stood Seraphim. Each one had six wings. With two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

So I said, 'woa 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 my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.' Then one of the Seraphim flew to me having in his hand a live coal with which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it and said, 'behold this has touched your lips. Your iniquity is taken away and your sin purged.'

Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' And then I said, 'here am I! Send me.'"

There is another passage parallel to this one. I'm going to read just a couple versus, because you need to hear it in the context of what we just read. It is revelation chapter 4, another vision seen by a different man by the name of John, not Isaiah, but it's similar.

In Revelation 4, John writes "after these things I looked and behold, a door standing open in heaven. The first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me saying come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.'" Now we are told as we keep reading that immediately John was in the spirit and he saw a throne, and one seated upon the throne with a bright appearance of jasper and sardias stone. There was a rainbow like an emerald around that throne, and there were 24 thrones around it with 24 elders and four living creatures, angelic beings. I'm picking it up again in Revelation 4:8. "The four living creatures each having six wings were full of eyes around and within, and they do not rest day or night saying holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty who was and is and is to come."

God is holy. I call God's holiness his most unpopular attribute, because most of us would rather not dwell on God's holiness. There's other characteristics that are far more attractive Like his love, his mercy, his compassion, his presence, his power. His holiness is a little daunting to us, and for some it even bothers.

However, holiness is God's most noted attribute. Now listen to this. Of all the things God is called in scripture, he is called holy most often.

In the book of Isaiah alone, 30 times the prophet refers to God as The Holy One, The Holy One-- not the merciful one, not the compassionate one, The Holy One. And all told, the Bible uses the word holy 637 times. Only twice is it repeated back to back three times, holy, holy, holy. That's Isaiah 6 and revelation chapter 4.

But notice that it's not love, love, love. It's not mercy, mercy, mercy. It's not grace, grace, grace. It's not wrath, wrath, wrath. It's not justice, justice, justice. It is holy, holy, holy.

Now as we go through this passage, there are four ways in which God's holiness should affect us. And the first is just understanding its meaning. Holiness means separation.

Now we are told in verse 1, it says "in the year King Uzziah died I saw the Lord." You say is that an important piece of information to have in the year that King Uzziah died? Well, if your name is Uzziah, it is, or if you're Mrs. Uzziah, it's a pretty monumental year. Or if you're one of the little Uzziah's running around, this a big deal.

What you need to know is King Uzziah who was the King of Judah at the time had been raining on the throne of Israel politically for 52 years, and they were for the most part 52 good years, godly years. The people felt stabilized. They felt good.

As long as a good and godly King was on the throne, it's almost like God would give them a pass, right. They have a good and godly leader. Everything's good.

I suppose it's how people feel knowing that there is a Christian in the White House or a Christian on Downing Street if you're in England or a Christian prime minister like in Australia. The people feel, well, as long as he or she's in that position, we're good to go. And maybe even Isaiah the prophet felt like that until the King died. After 52 years of being in office, King Uzziah died.

Now Isaiah being a prophet knowing that the condition of the nation of Judah was already deteriorating-- that's evidenced by chapter 5 of this book-- the fact that now is dead this prophet would have had these thoughts. Oh, no, we're sunk. Now the throne is empty. Who is going to lead our nation now? There is no one on the throne of Israel.

So in the year the King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on his throne. It's important to remember that. When the world seems dark around you, when your country seems crazy around you, when it's confusing on the earthly scale, when things are really terrible, listen, God is not panicked.

He's not sweating. He doesn't ring his hands. He doesn't say, oh, no. God is on the throne. He's still got it covered. He's occupying the throne.

As we like to say around here, God rules the universe with his feet up. It's easy for him, no sweat. In fact, Isaiah 66 God says, heaven is my throne, and Earth is my footstool. There he is, feet up.

This is one of the reasons why doing what we're doing now is so important. Gathering together for worship is such an important thing, because one thing it does is it adjusts our perspective. We get enough bad news out there. We hear it all day long.

And in hearing it all day long, it skews reality. So we need to get our perspective adjusted. We hear enough woes about the virus and about the economic freefall and the wearing a mask, et cetera. We need to get our perspective right and corrected.

So look at the message here. The angel cries out holy, holy, holy. Let's get a grip on what that word means. The Hebrew word is [HEBREW], and it sounded like this [HEBREW], holy, holy, holy. The word [HEBREW] means to cut, literally to cut off or to be cut off.

So the idea of holiness is to be cutoff, to be separate or to be separated or to be in a class of your own, to be utterly unique, to be totally singular. It is a term given to God in particular, but you also know that other things and other people are called holy. You can have ordinary objects, but if you cut them off and separate them for a special use, they become by virtue of that use holy.

Example, in the Old Testament there was a tent structure that they worshipped at known as the tabernacle. And in the Tabernacle were priests, were implements that were used. There were clothing that was worn. There were dishes and utensils that were employed, and they were called holy.

I'm going to read to you out of a passage of scripture in exodus 40. God tells Moses "you shall set up the court all around and hang up the screen on the court gate. And you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it. And you shall-- here's the word, hallow, hallow means make holy-- you shall hallow it and all its utensils, and it shall be holy.

You shall anoint the altar and the bird offering and all its utensils and consecrate the altar. The altar shall be most holy, and you shall anoint the laver and the bass and consecrate it. Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tabernacle of meeting and wash them with water, and you shall put the holy garments on Aaron and anoint him and consecrate him that he might minister to my people."

So you've got clothing called holy. You have articles that are used in the tabernacle called holy, and it's not like they glowed in the dark or anything. It's not like you went in the room, and they just, kind of, hovered. Oh, those are the holy things.

They were ordinary things cut off, separated and used for one purpose only. Therefore, they are called holy. And when you think of God's holiness if you want a better definition, call it God's otherness or God's apartness. It is us acknowledging that God is utterly unique and no thing and no one comes close to him.

In fact, Exodus 15:11 says "who is like you, oh, Lord, among the gods. Who is like you glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders." And by the way, do you notice the angel does not say holy or holy, holy, but three times. He feels the importance to say holy, holy, holy. This is known as the [NON-ENGLISH], or the thrice holy.

And whenever something in the Hebrew culture was emphasized three times, it was for emphasis. It's to emphasize this as the central core or character of God's being. If we were in high school and we were with a Hebrew background, if there's a cool kid in school, we would say he's cool. The Hebrews might say he's cool, cool, or if he's like the coolest kid, he's cool, cool, cool, right. That, sort of, follows a pattern.

Or if we want to say this this little boy is handsome, but he's like really handsome. He's handsome, handsome, handsome. Or the masks that we're wearing, some feel they're safe.

Others say, oh, no. They're safe, safe, and others say oh, no, no. They're like safe, safe, safe-- ultimately safe. And others just think they're annoying, annoying, annoying. I couldn't resist that.

God is holy, and this is the only attribute, by the way, of God, the only attribute that is given a threefold repetition, The only one of his attributes. I believe this particular trait of God has been lost in the church, lost on most Christians, again, because we prefer to think of God's comfort, God's power, God's graciousness, God's mercy. We like all those characteristics that, perhaps, we have lost the reality of God's transcendent holiness.

God is not the man upstairs, as some people refer to him as. He is not the big guy. I've heard people say I was talking to the big guy the other-- who you talking about? God.

He's not the big guy. He's holy, holy, holy. So that's what it means. It means separation.

There's a second way God's holiness should affect us, because it does to Isaiah. Holiness magnifies corruption. You see when you come in contact with somebody like God, who is holy, holy, holy, it does something to you. Look at what it does him. Down in verse 5, so I said, whoa, 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 my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

This is Isaiah talking, but even Isaiah, the prophet, he didn't go so I said, wow, is me or wonderful is me. He says woe is me. I am undone, or literally I am ruined. The new English Bible renders it "there is no hope for me. I'm doomed."

Wait what? Isaiah, why would you say, woe, is me. You're Isaiah. You're a profit. You're famous.

You sound pretty holy to me given what you do. Why would you say woe is me? I mean, you could write a book the day I saw God. You could go on Christian TV circuit or Jewish TV circuit and talk about your vision of heaven.

Here's why. In seeing God, Isaiah saw himself. In seeing God, he saw himself. The holiness of God served to magnify the unholiness of Isaiah.

So in seeing God, he saw himself. Now he's not the only one. This happens to be a theme throughout scripture of people who encounter God. I'll give you another one, Job.

You know about Job. Job God called Job the finest there is, right. The apotheosis of righteousness as far as earthlings are concerned. Have you considered my servant Job? He is blameless, God said of him.

But at the end of the book of Job, Job confesses this. I have heard of you, he prays to God, I have heard of you by the hearing of the year. But now my eye sees you, therefore, I abhor myself. I hate what I see. I abhor myself, and I repent in dust and ashes.

Yeah, it's one thing to be Mr. Holy among your peers, but standing next to God I'm Mr. Unholy, another one is Peter. Remember the day Jesus said, Peter, let's get in your boat and go fishing. It was early on in Jesus' ministry. Peter didn't quite understand who he was dealing with and who Jesus was, so he said let's go out. Let's go fishing, and Peter goes, look, I've been fishing all night and I caught that, nothing, zero, zip, zilch, nada.

So you're a preacher. I'm a fisherman. I know my business.

We're not going to catch anything, but I'll humor you. Let's go out. Nevertheless, at your word, we'll go.

So they go out fishing. You know the story. Jesus says toss your nets over here. Peter does, and he catches so much fish he can't even pull them in, right. The nets are about to break.

Suddenly Peter changes. And he says depart from me, Lord. I'm a sinful man.

Wait, you were Peter, the field and stream guy just a minute ago. You were the great fisherman of the Sea of Galilee. You fished all night and caught nothing.

But now he realizes who he's dealing with. This is the Lord. Depart from me, Lord. I'm a sinful man.

Here's another example. We just read it, or I read it to you, revelation chapter 4. There are 24 thrones and 24 elders gathered around the throne of God, but all of them take off their crown of authority and throw it down on the ground submitting to that one on the throne.

We might be something special to be up here in heaven, but we're not like him. He is holy, holy, holy. So holiness magnifies corruption. Think of it this way. You might fancy yourself as a rock and roll singer, because you can sing in the shower. But put you on stage next to Beyonce or Ray LaMontagne, and you don't sound that good in comparison.

You might think you know I'm a pretty good golfer but do around with tiger and see how you do. You might say I was pretty good at baseball in my college days, but get you on the field with Mike Trout. It's a different ballgame literally and figuratively.

Max Lucado put it this way. You don't impress the officials at NASA with a paper airplane. You don't boast about your crayon sketches in the presence of Picasso. I mean, come on. It's Picasso.

So show me a prideful person, and I'll show you somebody who has never met God. Meeting God is going to change you and do something in deflating your pride so that even a prophet like Isaiah next to the purity of God's holiness must cry, woah, is me. It's why I cringe whenever I hear people, and I've heard people say stuff like this. Well, when I see God I have a few things I want to tell him.

When people say that to me I just, sort of, step back a few steps, because I'm waiting for lightning anytime now. I want to be out of the vicinity. I'm going to tell, God?

Listen, when you see God you're going to fall at your feet as dead. That's what happened to John in the book of Revelation. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as a dead man. You're not going to be mouthing off to the holy one.

So holiness means separation, and holiness magnifies corruption. There's a third way that God's holiness should affect us. Holiness mandates purification.

Now follow my thinking here. When you understand who God really is and then you suddenly compare yourself to that, you don't want to-- you don't want to keep it that way, right. You want to move into the next phase to do something about what you have discovered, and that is purification. So that happens here.

Verse 6, then-- I love these little connectives-- then, as if to say immediately or to solve the problem that I saw in verse 5. "Then one of the Seraphim flew to me having in his hand a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs from the altar." Picture that. I know it's sometimes hard to do, but picture that-- a live coal, a little hot, red hot, white hot bricket that he took with the tongs of the altar, and he touched my mouth with it.

Ouch. It's a good thing this is a vision. Ouch, that didn't sound pleasant. I remember the first time when I moved from California and sat down to a meal and they asked me a question, do you want green or red? I don't even know what that meant. Green or red what?

And they explained chili, and so I'm naive. I go, oh, I like chili. I grew up with chili, beans and hamburger. That's Chili, right. Little did I know this was chili.

And so I said green. And I remember it touched my lips. So sort of get this idea here. I took a live coal and [SOUND]. The idea here is purification. I think I was purified that night. It cured everything I came in there with.

But notice this, he touched my mouth with it, verse 7, and said, "behold, this has touched your lips. Your iniquity-- that's sin, your sin-- your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged or forgiven. This is symbolic of cleansing. It touches his lips, why his lips?

Well, he just said I'm a man of unclean lips. I have a mouth problem. So God applied or the angel applied the touching of the coal to burn away the sin that he himself confessed.

I got a mouth problem. I'm a man of unclean lips, and I live around a bunch of foul-mouthed people. So the angel took the bricket and touched his lips and said your sin is forgiven.

Now why is that? Because here's the principle. Unholiness cannot coexist with holiness. Unholiness cannot coexist with holiness. Either God must destroy that which is unholy or else God must somehow remove the sin, and this happens to be the whole story of the Bible front to back. It's all about taking a coal and touching areas of people's lives, their mouth, their hearts, their minds, their decisions, and cleansing it and bringing forgiveness to it.

Whether it's the Old Testament tabernacle where you bring an animal and the animal would die in your place so that your sin could be forgiven, all of that anticipatory to the great sacrifice of Jesus on the cross where he functioned as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And in that moment, God the Father and Jesus were separated. Jesus was judicially separated from the Father so that the weight of sin fell on him. He is purging our sins. He is purifying us and taking it away. That's the message of the gospel.

The message of the gospel is that a holy God has made a way for unholy people. That's why we're excited. Because the way God deals with us, God's solution isn't to destroy the unholy-- though, he will do that one day. He's not above doing that. But his solution for us is not to destroy the unholy but to declare the unholy as holy.

So as soon as Isaiah said, woe is me, and he confessed his sin, unclean lips, as soon as he did that that area was touched and a proclamation was given. You're forgiven. Your cleansed. Your purified.

1 Peter 3:18 neatly sums it up. "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." There it is. "He0 died once for all, the righteous one for the unrighteous one, so that he can declare the unrighteous one righteous."

That's the gospel Isaiah understood that there is a gulf between unholy me and holy God. That's why he said, woe is me. But then he was shown by the angel that God's forgiveness could bridge that gap.

So Isaiah said woe is me. The angel comes and basically says, yeah, woah is you but wow is God. Because you're sin now is forgiven. You are purified.

By the way, this is the reason why so many people can go to church, claim to be religious people, oh yeah, I'm a religious-- I'm a Christian, and they'll make that claim but their lives are not changed. It's because they don't really believe or understand the great gulf between holy God and sinful man.

I've even heard people pray something like this. Well, Lord, if I've sinned, I just want to say I'm sorry. If you sinned? Excuse me. If? I mean, why are you even praying about it if you're not sure.

I've always loved the story about Frederick the Great, who toured a Berlin prison. He was the king of Prussia at the time, and he went through a prison, and in the cells were all the inmates. And as he appeared in his robes as the King, all the inmates, all of them one by one claimed his innocence.

I shouldn't be here. I don't deserve this. I'm innocent. Let me go, all of them except one.

There was one guy in a cell alone with his head down who said nothing, and the King stopped in front of that little cell and said, I suppose you're going to tell me you're innocent as well. And the man shook his head said, no, your majesty. I am not innocent. I am guilty, and I deserve punishment, the full extent of the law.

Well, this surprise Frederick. He stood up, and then he made this proclamation. Release this rascal before he corrupts all these fine innocent people. What got him out of jail? The admission that he should be there.

I'm guilty, he said. Isaiah said, I'm guilty. God said, you're cleansed. You're forgiven.

And that is why self-righteous people, that is why just religious people don't go to heaven, because they never admit they have a need. I'm good. I try hard. I work hard. I go to church. I'm doing my best.

How about there's nothing I could do to ever deserve it. I'm a sinner. That's how you get there. God says, OK, you've admitted the truth. Now I can cleanse you.

And by the way, that's what keeps us going back to the throne of Grace is his holiness. 1 John 1:9, "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse from all unrighteousness." it's a regular practice of ours, is it not, to seek God's forgiveness, because we blow it a lot. It's routine.

So holiness means separation, holiness magnifies corruption, and holiness mandates purification. Let me give you a fourth, and we'll close because it's in the text. Holiness motivates commission.

Now you would think after verse 7 that Isaiah could just go home. I mean, it's been a good day. He saw God.

He saw how holy God was, how bad he was. He asked for forgiveness. He got it.

Go home now, Isaiah. You're a good prophet. You think about these things. You think about your life. That doesn't happen.

It seems like God has work to do, and he's looking for a preacher to do it. So in verse 8, the Angels have been speaking but now it's different. For the first time in the text, God has something to say. "I heard the voice of the Lord saying, whom shall I send and who will go for us?" There's a whole nation out there that needs to hear a message.

"And then I said, here am I. Send me." Notice how quickly Isaiah volunteered.

He wasn't coerced. Does that sound coerced? No, this-- he's not coerced.

He's just cleansed, and he gladly offers himself to God. Send me. I'll go.

Some years ago, I was in a grocery store in the checkout line, and there was a woman in front of me with her groceries in her cart. I had mine. And we got to talking as the checker was checking her out, and so she said so what do you do.

I said, I'm a pastor. She, kind of, winced like that. She looked at me, and then she looked me up and down. And I thought I don't know what that's all about. Maybe she thinks I don't look like Pastor, which I always take as a compliment, by the way, when people tell me that.

You don't look like one. But she looked at me. She went and then she said you're a preacher? You're a minister? I said yes ma'am. I am.

And then she said this simply she said why. Why? And I was struck by that.

I mean, it was as if she was saying really? You couldn't get a job anywhere else. 7-eleven wasn't hiring, so you joined the ministry, right. I mean, it was as if I had been forced to do it rather than I've been called to do it.

Here's the truth. Once you've been cleansed, you're going to want to be commissioned. That's just the natural pattern of Christian life. Once you're cleansed, you want to be commissioned. I see it all the time.

Every pastor on this staff, every ministry leader, who are they? They're all saved sinners who met a holy God and now want to serve Him. It's as simple as that. Here I am. Send me.

So God in his holiness convicts you. God in his love cleanses you. God in his wisdom calls you, and God in his power qualifies you.

And you'll discover that if God calls you, as soon as you go here I am, send me, as soon as you step into that, God will give you a qualification that comes with the calling. He'll help you do what He's called you to do. And it's all prompted by his holiness. It's how he makes us holy.

I want you to listen to this. Think of it this way. His holiness leads to our wholeness. His holiness leads to our wholeness.

You want to be a whole complete person? Be drawn to his holiness, because it happens to be an attribute he wants to share with you. It's not like, well, God, is holy. Let's just leave it at that.

I'm unholy. God is holy. No, God actually wants you to be like him.

Leviticus 11 also quoted by Peter in the New Testament, "God said, you must be holy, because I am holy." I want you to be like me. I want you to share this trait, this characteristic.

Hebrews 12, "pursue peace with all people and holiness without which no one will see the Lord." Just in case you still wonder if God's will for you is to be holy, I Thessalonians 4:3, for this is the will of God even your sanctification. It's a $.50 word for being holy. God wants us to be holy.

So bottom line is this. A relationship with God is always transformative, is always transformative. Once you meet holy God, you'll never be the same. And what happens is you start becoming holier. As somebody put it, God loves you the way you are. But he loves you too much to leave you the way you are.

So he takes you just as you are, but then you are transformed by that encounter and it's a constant transformation. So what the Bible says, be holy because God is holy. Then the question, kind of, comes naturally. So how do I know when I'm holy? Beards, long robes, sandals, right.

How do I know when I'm holy? Hair shirts, stone cells, stained glass, nope. We know God is holy because of two things. Let's make it real simple. God hates sin. God loves righteousness.

OK, it's that simple. God hates sin. God loves righteousness. That's why he's holy.

So how do you know when you're holy? You're going to hate what God hates. You're going to love what God loves, right. That makes sense.

You're going to find yourself hating sin. You're going to find yourself loving righteousness. That's the gauge that we go by.

It doesn't mean we're ever perfect, but it does mean we are purposeful in our pursuit of God and in becoming and pleasing-- becoming what God wants us to become. I think the best single sentence definition of holiness I found was given to us by Chuck Colson. Take a look at it. "Holiness is the everyday business of the Christian. It evidences itself in the decisions we make and the things we do hour by hour, day by day."

It's that simple. Everyday you and I make decisions. Should we say that? Should we not say that?

Should we do this? Should we not do this? Should we go with that group or that person or not go with that? And you evaluate hopefully, and you say what would the Lord want me to do in this choice.

And when you make the right choices, you find yourself growing in holiness. You're well on the way. So be holy, for I am holy. God is holy, holy, holy.

By the way, I read to you Revelation 4. We read together Isaiah 6. Did you notice the lyrics of the song haven't changed?

OK, so it's a scene in heaven. Isaiah hears holy, holy, holy. John has a vision of heaven, same lyric, same song, holy, holy, holy. Now Isaiah wrote around 7:40 b.c. John sees the vision about 100 a.d. So let's just say there's roughly 750 years between what Isaiah saw in heaven and what John saw in heaven.

And what's striking is they're singing the same worship song. You don't hear an angel going could we, like, update things around here? We've been singing holy, holy, holy for 750 years. Can we just make things cooler than that?

No, here's the point. There are some truths that transcend crazes and trends, and there are still captivated by God and still captivated by God's holiness. So they're still going holy, holy, holy. And guess what? I think you're going to hear that tune yourself in heaven.

I want to close with a quote, because I think it personalizes this truth for us. It's A.W. Tozer. "He said are we losing our, oh?" Now don't read that like oh. The ideas is oh. Are we losing our oh?

"When the heart is on its knees-- or when the heart on its knees moves into the awesome presence and hears with fear and wonder things not lawful to utter, the mind falls flat and words previously as faithful servants become weak and totally incapable of telling what the heart hears and sees. In that awesome moment, the worshipper can only cry oh."

So when it's time to sing, do you think I don't like that song? Or I like it when the other worship leader sings that song or I like it in a different key or I don't like it that loud? Or how about, oh, I'm in the presence of the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, ineffable, holy, holy, holy God, oh. Are you losing your oh.

One thing that'll get it back, the holy nature of God. Come into contact with the holy nature of God. Father, thank you that you are so totally pure, so apart, so other.

We rely on that standard, because by you we see everything else. And in seeing everything else, we see ourselves in that mix. And when we see ourselves, we see that we have a great need.

As Jesus put it, we see that we are poor in spirit. And then we mourn. Blessed are those who mourn. We mourn over it.

We say woe is me, and then we start hungering and thirsting after righteousness. We find that flow, that natural flow of encountering a holy God, feeling bad about it in our own nature as sinners, doing something about it, coming to Christ and being forgiven, and then finally being commissioned. I pray, Lord, that we will never lose the wonder, the aw, the oh in your presence. In Jesus' name, Amen.

We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/14/2020
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Seeing Truth Clearly
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Hiram Johnson said, "The first casualty in war is truth." God’s people have been in a cosmic battle since the fall. Satan’s first allegation against truth was in Genesis 3:1: "Has God indeed said...?" Deception regarding truth is Satan's primary occupation. We now live in what might be dubbed a post-truth culture wherein the very idea of absolute truth is considered archaic and even offensive. In this series, we will look to the "Scripture of Truth" (Daniel 10:21) to reinforce our foundation and engender biblical literacy. Here at the end of Paul's life, he could foresee the abandonment of truth, and he gave Timothy this antidote: "Preach the Word!"
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6/21/2020
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Seeing God as Father
Luke 11:2
Skip Heitzig
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God is presented in Scripture by a variety of images. He is called our Rock, our Refuge, our Warrior, our Shepherd, our Shield, our Hiding Place, our Redeemer, our Fountain, our Husband, and our Vinedresser. But no motif is as powerful and personal as seeing God as our Father. With this title, the invisible God becomes the intimate God. Today, on Father’s Day, we consider the singular phrase "Our Father in heaven" as an introduction to the doctrine of God. Let’s turn over each word and mine the depths of the riches contained in this great verse.
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6/28/2020
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How Can I Relate to God?
Exodus 32-34
Skip Heitzig
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The subject of God is the loftiest of all themes and the pinnacle of all pursuits. For some people, the idea of God is absurd because He is not readily perceived by the senses, like a flower or another person. But as we learn who God is and how perceptible He is to us, I think we’ll be both lifted up and humbled all at the same time. Today we trace the journey that every person must take who wants to relate to the God of the universe. Let’s examine five stages of this relationship.
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7/5/2020
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Biblical History: Fact or Fancy?
Dr. Steven Collins
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Dr. Steven Collins serves as the dean of the College of Archaeology at Veritas International University and a consulting research professor at Trinity Southwest University. He is also the director of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in Jordan, which is believed to be the location of Sodom.
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7/12/2020
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Hello, I’m God!
Exodus 34:5-9
Skip Heitzig
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People have written and spoken about God for millennia. It’s what I have done for nearly four decades. But today we get to hear from God Himself as He gives to Moses His own autobiography. Here He introduces Himself by stating His name and His occupation as God. He states His primary character traits, thus framing what our relationship with Him is going to be like. This is a primary passage of Scripture, meaning other biblical authors make reference to it later on in their writings. Let’s find out what God says about Himself.
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7/19/2020
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Knowing the God Who Knows You
Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24
Skip Heitzig
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A person with knowledge can be intimidating. They spew facts and figures and can dizzy us with information and understanding. But rightly seen, a study of God’s comprehensive knowledge can be a source of great comfort to us. In this series, 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we come to grips with the fact that God sees everything most clearly. His knowledge is vast, infinite, comprehensive, specific, and personal. But let’s observe how God’s omniscience can become inspiring rather than intimidating.
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7/26/2020
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Here, There, and Everywhere
Psalm 139:7-12
Skip Heitzig
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One of the Beatles’ most melodic hits expressed a couple’s romantic desire to be together at all times and in all places and was simply titled, “Here, There and Everywhere.” This title also expresses a unique attribute of God (what theologians call an incommunicable attribute). He is everywhere present in the totality of His being! This may be one of the hardest-to-understand characteristics of God, but one that brings great comfort to us.
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8/2/2020
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The Unrivaled Power of God
Psalm 139:13-18
Skip Heitzig
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God is called Almighty fifty-seven times in Scripture. It means that the resources of His power are boundless. He is unlimited in His ability and unconstrained in His capacity. God’s attribute of omnipotence is helpful for us to remember when we are feeling overwhelmed with threatening circumstances. Just as we feel confident when our mobile devices have plenty of battery power to spare, we can live confidently knowing that our great God has power for any of our problems.
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8/16/2020
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One Plus One Plus One Equals One?
John 14:1-18
Skip Heitzig
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One of the most fundamental yet challenging truths in Scripture is the doctrine of the Trinity. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Try to explain it and you might lose your mind, but try to explain it away and you might lose your soul. The Bible openly teaches the plurality within the Godhead—three persons who are distinct from one another yet perfectly One in essence. How are we to think about this? And how should it affect us personally?
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8/23/2020
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Pain: God’s Biggest Problem
John 9:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Perhaps the biggest impediment to believing in God (as stated by those who don’t) is the presence of pain and suffering in the world. How can there be a God who is benevolent and omnipotent with the sheer volume of grief, misery, travail, and torment at any given moment? Today we explore the theme of a loving God in a universe pockmarked by pain. As Jesus was in Jerusalem with His disciples, they came across a blind man. I’d like to show you four features of this most common and universal of human experiences.
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8/30/2020
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Christ Jesus Our Lord
Philippians 2:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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At the very center of history’s stage stands Jesus Christ. He has no peers. The Father in heaven sent Him on the mission of redemption and He humbly surrendered. When it was accomplished, He conquered death itself by resurrection and returned to glory. In what is considered by many to be the greatest single statement about Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Paul succinctly framed His humiliation, His exaltation, and His example to us.
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9/6/2020
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The Atonement: His Death, Our Life
John 12:20-33
Skip Heitzig
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Wasn’t there any other way for God to save human beings than by sending His Son to die? The very idea of a bloody crucifixion sounds brutal and barbarous to some, yet it is the centerpiece of our faith. What is the big deal about the atonement? Why the cross? Why had it been the plan of God through the ages? Today we examine the death of Christ for us and, in His own words, His own estimation of its necessity and consequence.
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9/13/2020
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He’s Alive! Proofs of the Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Skip Heitzig
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Just as your own heart is the pump that brings life-giving blood to your entire body, so is the resurrection of Jesus that gives life to the gospel message. Without it, our faith would be totally useless; our message would be utterly powerless. The resurrection is also what separates Jesus Christ from every other spiritual leader and would-be messiah. It validates His teaching. It authenticates His claims. It substantiates His promises. And it corroborates our confidence in Him as our Savior and Lord.
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9/20/2020
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The Holy Spirit in the World
John 16:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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We are not alone in the universe! That’s the premise of most sci-fi documentaries, but I’m not referring to alien life from another galaxy, rather to the living God Himself. In particular, I am referring to the Holy Spirit. He has a particular role when it comes to working in this world, and that is to awaken people to their great need for Christ. In our series 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we will turn in the next few weeks to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. What is His role in the life of the unbeliever and the life of the believer?
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10/11/2020
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Who Is the Holy Spirit?
John 16
Nate Heitzig
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There can be a lot of mystery and misinformation surrounding the Holy Spirit. When we look to Scripture, however, the third person of the Godhead comes into clear focus. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig describes the person of the Holy Spirit, His work both at scale in the world and individually in the hearts of believers, and how He helps you gain a deeper understanding of God's Word.
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10/18/2020
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Help Has Arrived!
John 14:15-18
Skip Heitzig
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Someone said to me this past week, “Life is hard, but God is good!” We all know it’s true. To live for God in an ungodly world is challenging, sometimes daunting. But God never intended for us to try it alone! He has provided for us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who is not only at work in the world around us but is very busy working inside of us. Let’s drill down into the promise Jesus gave to His disciples in the upper room about the coming Spirit.
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10/25/2020
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God’s Purpose for People
Genesis 1-3
Skip Heitzig
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After spending several weeks considering God’s nature and character, we now turn to mankind. What is the purpose of the people inhabiting this planet? How can we fulfill the God-given destiny that He originally had in mind when He placed us here? Someone once said that the two most significant days in one’s life are first, the day we were born, and second, the day we discovered what we were born for. Let’s go back to the beginning.
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11/1/2020
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The Dark Side
Romans 3:10-26
Nate Heitzig
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God created humans in His own image. But even with God's imprint in humanity, people have a dark side—a sin nature—because of Adam and Eve's rebellion. One consequence of our rebellion against God is guilt, but in today's society, many people try to minimize both sin and guilt by casting them in a deceptively benign light. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig looks at what the book of Romans has to say about our true condition and its only remedy.
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11/15/2020
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Once Dead, Now Alive!
Ephesians 2:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Of all the doctrines that adorn the New Testament, salvation is the most personal and the most transformative. Below are the various stages that every saved person goes through in coming to Christ. Today, try to remember what it was like for you when Jesus became real to you and you realized your need for Him to save you, then answer this fundamental question: How has your conversion changed your contentment?
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11/22/2020
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I’m a Christian—Now What?
Romans 8:12-17
Skip Heitzig
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Once you decide to repent from your past, say yes to Jesus Christ, and invite Him into your heart, you begin a lifelong relationship with Him. Nothing stays the same. Paul wrote, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT). Conversion is the gateway to transformation. Let’s consider four clear experiences that happen in the life of everyone who believes.
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11/29/2020
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The Angels of God
Hebrews 1
Skip Heitzig
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Angels are largely relegated to the realms of mythology and childhood fantasy. Most people never think about them. But angels are very, very real. Martin Luther commented, “An angel is a spiritual creature created by God without a body, for the service of Christendom and of the church.” He was partly correct, but angels serve an even greater role than being strictly for the church. Their ministry objective is principally concerned with the glory and majesty of God. Let’s explore some of the noteworthy traits that angels have.
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There are 21 additional messages in this series.
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