Climbing the Ridge to Holiness   1 comment

Hebrews 13:7 states that we should “remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you, and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” And God has graciously put before me many heroes of the faith, whether I consider them brothers in Christ or fathers of the faith. These are men in my life whom I seek to imitate, as they seek to follow Christ’s example (1 Corinthians 11:1). Then, there are the men who my heroes follow after. One such men is John Owen. It’s not that John Owen is a hero of my own, but there are so many steps between myself and him. But one of the amazing things is to recognize that fathers of the faith like Owen recognize the wide chasm between their holiness and the holiness of God more than I. I was reminded of that in John Piper’s biographical sermon of John Owen.

In this sermon, Piper said of Owen’s holiness:

Owen was the kind of person–[Jonathan] Edwards was another one–who had climbed so high up the steeps of wonder revealed in the Scriptures that he could pull his face up over the ridge to see the ridges. Most people are down here looking up at that first ridge carping at intellectuals who try to understand it. The people who really know how low they are are the ones who climb high enough in biblical revelation to see over the first ridge to the other ones that disappear into the clouds. These people down here who never got to the top of the first ridge, they might be a little impressed. But they haven’t even begun to see what Owen saw when he climbed up over 16 volumes worth [of written work] into God and said, “I haven’t even touched it.”

Read it over again. I had to listen to this a few times and spent some time meditating on it.

It all reminds me of climbing Mt. Everest. Mind you, I’ve never climbed Mt. Everest and will most likely never do so. But it reminds me of hearing from other climbers, especially those who have never climbed before. That’s because, to climb the Everest, climbers have to trek up to 16,990 feet–and that’s only so they can set up base camp. Then, they have to climb over 3,000 feet to get to Camp II. They next set up their advanced base camp at 21,300 feet. All this climbing and trekking, and they’re still 5,000 feet away from an altitude so high and dangerous that it is known as the “death zone.”

Well, I’m not even at base camp. I’ve only begun climbing the initial few thousand feet up the steep slopes of personal holiness. I can see base camp at a distance, and it seems like a long way but I’m fairly sure I can make it. And I’m pretty certain that when I get there, I’ll be just a stone’s throw away from where I need to be. I realize that I cannot attain to the holiness of Jesus Christ, but it seems like the camp set up in the far distance would be a good place to get to. But I have no idea that all I’m looking at is the initial base camp. I’m huffing and puffing, not realizing that what I’m attempting to attain is really just the start of the climb.

On the other hand, you have men like John Owen and Jonathan Edwards. These are men who have climbed into the death zone of the Everest of personal holiness. They get there to look up and realize that the rest of the mountain is still hidden amongst the clouds. At 28,000 feet, they haven’t even reached the second step of climbing the mountain, which would require the use of Chinese ladders, a permanent fixture of the mountain that assists climbers going up the steep slope as the oxygen gets thinner. Then, there’s the additional third step. Once there, the climber still has to climb up the 50 degree snow slope to ascend to the ridge.

This adds great weight to what the Lord said in the book of Leviticus: “Be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44). We think we have an idea of what it means to be holy because we see what holiness looks like off in the distance. But what we’re seeing is not holiness… its just the first ridge, where you could see all the other RIDGES. That’s when you get an understanding of JUST HOW HOLY God truly is.

For now, that first ridge is still off in the distance. But I look forward to the day when, by God’s grace, I might approach that ridge and look over it to see that the true climb has yet to begin. However, this should not be a discouragement for believers. We will get to the peak… guaranteed. God, in His plan, has given us the promise of the peak. “[The Father] made [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And all those who are found in Jesus Christ will one day gaze upon that peak and say, “WHOA! It’s even higher than I could’ve ever imagined. I would’ve never thought THIS is what perfect holiness was like. Beyond my wildest dreams!” It’s what the apostle Paul is getting at in Ephesians 3:17-19: “[T]hat you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

And our only response will be the verses (Ephesians 3:20-21) that follow directly after: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

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Posted October 30, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

One response to “Climbing the Ridge to Holiness

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  1. Amazing Grace. Great post.

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