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Before the Throne: Reflections on God’s Holiness

Allen S. Nelson IV, Before the Throne: Reflections on God’s Holiness (Perryville, AR: Allen S. Nelson IV, 2019), 210 pages.

I connected with Allen on Twitter some time ago. I saw one of his Tweets, and I liked what I read. As I observed Allen on Twitter, I was impressed with his desire to serve God and help the church. Though he has helped in many ways, his most effective work comes from his pen. In addition to this book, Allen Nelson has authored From Death to Life: How Salvation Works. He also blogs at ThingsAbove.Us.

An Overview of Before the Throne

Allen Nelson wrote this book to help believers (and unbelievers) receive a glimpse of the holiness of God.  In the preface, Allen remarks “Offering these meditations from the perspective of one writing in the 21st century is my way to warm the modern reader’s heart toward the greatness and glory of God.”[1] Allen’s book does just that.

Displaying his preacher-roots, Allen structures each chapter in an alliterated fashion. Ranging from undoubtable to unquenchable, all focus on the holiness of God. As Allen examines each facet of the holiness of God (a task he readily and regularly reminds us can only be done on a finite basis), he does so by examining two passages

 

of Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-7 and Revelation 4:5-11. That is, his book is written by expounding upon and extrapolating the truths from two passages of Scripture, all from a book that describes or displays the holiness of God.

The chapters are around 18-20 pages in length. At the end of each chapter, Allen provides several questions for “Group Discussion or Family Worship.”[2]

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The Group Discussion or Family Worship. (p. 24)

 

In addition, Allen also cites additional Scripture for discussion and meditation.[3]

 

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Scripture Review for further discussion and meditation. (p. 82)

Strengths of Before the Throne

From my perspective, Allen’s most significant contribution in this work is his ability to take the weighty Puritans and deep preachers of this age and bring them down to the average layman. This task is impressive, for the Puritans were deeply spiritual and incredibly academic. It takes work to read them, even for academics. Yet, Allen translates their thoughts in such a way that the grandmother in the pew can grasp the holiness of God.

Another strength of the book is that it helps whet the appetite. As a pastor, I long for our people to know the holiness of God. And Allen’s work helps encourage that hunger for holiness. Each chapter provides a different glimpse of the holiness of God, and each chapter increases your hunger for holiness.

A third strength is Allen’s work in the Questions for Group Discussions or Family Worship. The questions are good questions, not the typical, “What does this mean to you?” questions often found in Bible studies. They are deep, thought-provoking, and soul-searching questions. As a father, I appreciate this as well because our family observes family worship. With that said, I think it would be better for maturing children (10 years old and upward).

The fourth strength of Allen’s work is the humility through which he writes it. Throughout the book, Allen acknowledges his inadequacies to write upon the holiness of God, not because of a lack of writing ability, but because of the incomprehensibility of God’s holiness. For instance, he writes, “It is impossible to comprehend God as He has revealed Himself to us in Scripture without understanding His holiness.”[4] His humility is also displayed in instances such as his footnote on page 21.

A final strength is the length of the book. Allen could have easily written a large tome or even volumes on the holiness of God. But Allen’s work is a little over two-hundred pages. This makes it more accessible to the average individual in the pew.

Opportunities of Before the Throne

The book is accessible for the layman, but this work shows that Allen is a capable theologian. I believe that he would benefit the church to devote a considerable treatment to God, not just His holiness, but all of His qualities and attributes.

Another opportunity that might help make the work even more practical is a glossary of terms. Though he defines uncommon words in the text, it might help increase the vocabulary of the average Christian.

Who Should Read Before the Throne

Everyone should read this book. For the pastor, it is a healthy reminder of Who our God is. Additionally, Allen distills the implications for pastoral and ecclesial ministry. In a convicting statement, Allen writes, “We’ve created an atmosphere of entertainment in the church today because we have found God boring.”[5]

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“It is impossible to comprehend God He has revealed Himself to us in Scripture without understanding His holiness.” (p. 26)

Pastors, including myself, need to be reminded of the importance of following God’s command for His people, which undoubtedly includes church services (see Leviticus 19:2).

Sunday school teachers and small group leaders should read it well. In fact, they can purchase the book and use the group questions in the back! The lofty thoughts of which Allen writes will enable these individuals to minister on behalf of a thrice-holy God.

The average Christian should read this as well. When I say “average” I do not in any way mean that in a derogatory fashion. I simply mean the common Christian, the man who works at Walmart, the lady who manages the bank, the teacher, the mechanic, and so on. This book, as I have mentioned, it accessible to those without theology degrees.

Lastly, this book is for someone who is not a follower of Jesus Christ. Reading this book, saturated with Scripture, will provide you a glimpse into the greatness of God. I pray, as I know Allen does too, that this book will be a tool to bring you into a saving relationship with God.

Concluding Remarks

I want to thank Allen for his work in this book. My own soul has benefited from it, and now members of our church are benefiting from it as well.

Resources from Allen Nelson

You can follow Allen on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/cuatronelson

For Allen’s sermon, visit his church’s website here: http://www.perryvillesbc.org/

For Allen’s other writings, see this website: https://thingsabove.us/

____________________

[1] Allen S. Nelson IV, Before the Throne: Reflections on God’s Holiness (Perryville, AR: Allen S. Nelson IV, 2019), 1.

[2] For example, see page 24.

[3] For example, see page 82.

[4] Nelson, Before the Throne, 26.

[5] Ibid., 181.

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