by Dr. Bill Ury, National Ambassador for Holiness
“I need a whole God!” cried Samuel Logan Brengle, but every person is created with the same desire. The Salvation Army has always been focused on this longing for a God who offers a comprehensive salvation—Himself—in order to make us whole.
I remember when it dawned on me that the doctrine of holiness was not some experience for a small group of “spiritual elites.” Holiness is who God is. We can never have a proper, complete or satisfying relationship with God and miss His essence. The Army has refused incomplete views of God or His purposes.
I have found it helpful when thinking about holiness to imagine who God is without creation. My tendency is to bring God down to my needs and problems. But our whole God is not determined by our issues. He is before all things (Col. 1:15, Rev. 4:11). He took on human nature out of His eternal holy love, not because sin made Him do it. Only wholeness can transform my brokenness.
This wholeness appears everywhere in scripture. Take, for example, Moses’ challenge to Israel in Deuteronomy 7. In order to take the Promised Land, Moses reminds them to maintain an intimate relationship with God, the Holy One (7:1-5). Why? Because they are a holy people (v. 6). He has chosen them for a unique relationship no one else has. This calling is based upon His love for them (vv. 7-8). This love, however, is a whole love which means that it is fiercely protective of them. He will not allow any idolatry or tendency to sin (v. 9). He wants to produce a whole people with healthy hearts and lives of pure love. So, they are delivered in order to “keep” His covenant of love and its unchanging standards (vv. 10-11). You can summarize the whole gospel with the terms “holy” and “love” (John 15:9-17).
Every time the people of God have missed God’s wholeness, they have missed Him. Whatever term or attribute of God you focus on I would encourage you to place holiness in front of it: holy sovereignty, holy glory, holy justice, holy mercy. If we are to be His Army, we must never diminish His love or His law (Matt. 5:17-20). They are one, whole, real revelation of His essence.
So, we will offer His holy love without embarrassment because there is no wholeness without Him. We must not offer the world less than the One it needs. We do not meet anyone’s true needs by offering less than what can make them whole. Without holiness no one shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). To do the most good, our whole heart must be yielded to the Most Holy One.