Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Fear of God

Today I happened to walk into a chatroom that was on the relation of Christianity and the Church. There were a number of points raised by those leading the discussion, including issues connected to the fact that churches often act with the primary goal of promoting themselves or lining the coffers. There was also talk about the use of manipulation based on telling people that they are guilty in God's eyes.

There was a measure of reasonableness in some of the criticisms, but then it really started to go south. One of the people started railing against God with various epithets, and declaring - in essence - that the people weren't interested in a God who hates the wicked. A theme kept getting repeated about God (they said) wouldn't want people to fear him, quoting something about "perfect love casts out fear" (from John's catholic epistle).

It occurred to me that this wasn't really the whole counsel of God (simply taking that part of one verse in isolation), so I brought up the following verse:

Psalm 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

I provided it to the room, and got back a mocking response that I had quoted a Psalm from a dead religion. I probably ought to have immediately identified the spirit of the room as opposed to God, but I thought that perhaps this was some sort of dispensational room, where people view (quite incorrectly) the Psalms as outdated and connected with Judaism.

So, I proceeded to provide a verse from the New Testament:

Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

But the leaders of the room kept on claiming that any "fear of God" was a terrible idea. Suddenly it dawned on me - and I posted:

Romans 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

This got a stronger reaction - the leaders of the group silenced my nick and complained to the effect that it was not appropriate to quote Bible verses to people who aren't interested in them. I clarified that they really weren't interested in the Bible, and - before they kicked me out - asked what sort of person despises the Word of God.

I was truly amazed at how openly vile and anti-Scripture the group was. The hatred for God's word was without shame. They were only afraid to be called to task for it. They didn't mind quoting the "warm fuzzy" verses of the Bible, but if any verse was presented that didn't line up with their theology, it was just dismissed.

Probably I'm just too sheltered - but the pure evil of a religion that despises God's word so openly was absolutely shocking to me. I feel so sorry for those folks - it is the "reprobate mind" of Romans 1 written large. But they are not seared in their conscience as to be able to completely ignore the Scriptures. The felt the need to mock and revile them - and to mock me for bringing them up. I've seen the latter from atheists - but a group of people would call themselves "Christians" while attacking the church and the Scriptures left me near speechless.

Please don't be like those folks I encountered today. Be a God-fearer:

Psalm 66:16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

Ecclesiastes 8:12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:



Anonymous said...

TF, I understand somewhat of what you address in this article today.

I was helping a Pastor friend out and clerked at his Christian Thrift Store on his Church property. It is an active thriving place, this Thrift Store.

A woman came in with a most serious expression all over her being. She carried this worry well.

I began reaching out to her in sympathy. As she opened up she asked if I was the Pastor. I said I was a sorta associate Pastor of the Church as I am invited to Preach from time to time. I am a Minister though and I could get the Pastor for her if she wanted to talked to him?

No she said. That's ok. I do have a problem and maybe you can help sort it out for me.

As I listened to her I realized she did have a "sense" of the Faith once delivered to the Saints.

As time went along she said she was visiting and was from Houston Texas. Oh, do you go to Church there, I asked? Yes, I am a part of Joel Osteens fellowship.

As we continued talking I began to discern some errors in her judgment and pointed her to these verses asking her what she thought Jesus was getting at with them:

Mat 10:24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.
Mat 10:25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
Mat 10:26 "So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.
Mat 10:27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
Mat 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Mat 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
Mat 10:30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Mat 10:31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

She became even more visibly upset as I read those verses. I saw that and asked her if I had offended her?

No, those verses do though, she answered.

Hmmmmm, why would those verses offend you, I asked her?

I just don't understand why I should fear God and then not fear God. Why does God have to be so negative, she asked?

Those verses make me "feel" so uncomfortable. I just don't like thinking about anything so negative. I don't like to think about hell and God's wrath!

Well, this woman wasn't getting anything positive out of our discussion and the sense of worry and grief that she was carrying on her shoulders seemed to intensify the more I plowed into the dirt of her soul. We left off our discussion and she left.

It is sad, TF, that there isn't a clear proclamation of the Gospel and the understanding of God's wrath, that God "hates" evil and wickedness and has demonstrated as much in putting on Him the chastisement of us all!

Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Isa 53:8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
Isa 53:9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Isa 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isa 53:11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
Isa 53:12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Kyle said...


This is common even in relatively conservative, "Bible-believing" circles. If "perfect love casts out fear," the Christian should have no fear of God whatsoever, that's the idea. You are most correct that this is not the whole counsel of God. What the apostle John is saying is that we have no fear of condemnation if we abide in the love of Christ. He is not saying that we have no fear of God, and Scripture is clear that we are indeed to fear God, and fearing Him, no other fear shall overtake us.

Turretinfan said...

James: thanks for your comment. I have no defense of Fred Phelps and his group's misuse of Scriptures.