God with us, God for us

Assumed Audience: Theologically-orthodox Christians, or folks interested in things that theologically-orthodox Christians think.

The holy God is God with us, God for us. In trinitarian terms, this comes out something like this: God the holy Father is the one who wills a people for himself. The Father’s holiness is thus his work of purposing a people for himself, of securing from all eternity that what Israel and the Church signify will be established, namely, creatures in fellowship with God. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians tells us, chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him’ (Eph. 1.4). God the holy Son is the one who condescends to turn to the world in grace as its saviour and redeemer. The Son’s holiness is thus his work of rescuing those whom the Father wills for fellowship with himself. It is the merciful friendship with which he comes to the aid of sick and sinful and polluted humanity. It is the holy fellowship in which he takes our place, bears the burden of our sins, and releases us from their contamination. As the Son, the holy God embodies his mercy, redeeming Israel and the Church and, in them, humankind from the threat of sin, remaking what 1 Peter calls a holy nation, God’s own people’ (1 Pet. 2.9). The work of the Son is thus to reconcile us and present us holy and blameless and irreproachable’ before the Father (Col. 1.22). God the Holy Spirit is the one who completes this work of making holy, perfecting the creature by binding the creature’s life into that of Christ and so realizing in the creature what has been achieved for the creature. The Spirit’s holiness is thus known in his work of sanctifying. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians, you were washed, you were sanctified . . . in the name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God’ (1 Cor. 6.11). Who, then, is the holy God? For the Christian confession, he is this one: the thrice Holy One, worshipped in the Apocalypse and in the prayers of the Church thus:

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come! (Rev. 4.8)
 — John Webster, Holiness, p. 51 – 52