God’s Holiness in Salvation and Steadfast Love in Judgment

No, the title of this post is not a typo. In God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology (Crossway, 2010), James M. Hamilton Jr. suggests that both God’s holiness and steadfast love are seen in both salvation and judgment:

While the holiness of God is often seen in judgment, and the steadfast love of God is often seen in salvation, it is also true that God reveals his holiness when he saves, because when he saves he fulfills promises he has made. Salvation reveals God’s uniqueness and his righteousness (aspects of his holiness) as he keeps his promises. Judgment and salvation reveal God’s holiness.

Similarly, while God’s steadfast love is seen in salvation, it is also seen in judgment. When God judges, he enforces standards he himself has set, showing steadfast love to himself and the demands of his character. Further, when God judges, he shows steadfast love to his people. They are saved from their enemies when he judges those enemies. They are saved from their sins when God judges their sins (e.g., Isa. 40:2; Rom. 8:3). And they are saved from self-centered thinking when God’s judgment crashes in upon the idolatry of the self and crushes it.

As God enforces the standards he has set and keeps the promises he has made, we see that promise-fulfillment serves salvation through judgment. God promises to save and judge, and he fulfills these promises by saving and judging. But again, promise-fulfillment is not an end in itself. Salvation and judgment reveal God’s steadfast love and his holiness. God reveals his holiness and his steadfast love not as ends themselves, however, but as means to the end of displaying his own glory.

Pgs. 54-55.

I picked up my copy this past week at ETS and so far am enjoying it very much. The idea that the center of the biblical story is “God’s glory in salvation through judgment” (rather than a key theme in the biblical story) is debatable (as Shane has noted in his review), but that does not keep Hamilton’s book from being a fascinating and insightful read!

R. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church (URCNA)
Anaheim, CA


2 comments on “God’s Holiness in Salvation and Steadfast Love in Judgment

  1. Ha! One of the few books we disagree on. I didn’t think it was anything groundbreaking or anything that hasn’t been done before. But good that you’re enjoying it! Shane

    • Funny! Although, I wouldn’t say I think it’s groundbreaking either. I personally haven’t seen the same themes analyzed like this before, however, so in that sense it is a new approach for me. I’m finding it a nice break from other things to work my way through a biblical theology, however. I also like to expose myself to lots of these because even though the single theme under consideration rarely works throughout Scripture, there are passages I’ll come across that are perfectly applicable to the theme that some biblical theologian has covered somewhere … I also picked up Gentry & Wellum’s _Kingdom Through Covenant_ from the Crossway booth and though there are plenty of things to disagree with in that from a covenantal perspective, I’m looking forward to giving it a read!

Comments are closed.