Afraid of God?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by 12strings, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. 12strings

    12strings
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    We are repeatedly admonished in scripture to fear God. What do you believe this fear entails?

    Some say it is primarily reverence.

    Some say it is also actual fear of his power and authority to Judge.

    What say you?



    (Just so you know my intentions right at the start, I plan to follow standard BB protocol on this thread: That is, I will first post this open-ended question as if I am equally open to several positions...However, once people answer, I will either agree with them, or disagree, show them where I think they are wrong, and state what I believe to be the correct view...which I should have simply stated in my OP):wavey:
     
  2. seekingthetruth

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    Very good question.

    I remember my relationship with my parents growing up. I feared them, but it was not fear in the sense that I was in danger. This fear was simply knowing that if i didnt obey them then I would face the consequences. I loved them deeply and I sought their approval. But I knew that my obedience was the key to maintaining a good relationship with them.

    Perhaps it is the same with God. Maybe God wants us to obey Him instead of actually being afraid of Him.

    John
     
  3. Skandelon

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    Fear is being scared. When you realize:

    1. That you are a guilty sinner
    2. Sin is really serious because it offends the infinite nature of God and thus demands an infinitely serious punishment
    3. That you will stand before a perfectly just judge who must condemn the guilty.

    You will be scared. Just look at most any person facing the court who is about to sentence them to years in prison or the death penalty. They are SCARED. That is what the realization of the wrath of God produces when someone is faced with the reality of hell. Those who downplay hell are really insulting the nature of God's holiness. The severity of hell is directly proportional to the nature of God's holiness. His holiness is eternal thus hell, the punishment for offending His Holiness, is eternally severe.

    But, what the law and fear begins, love and grace completes. 'True Love drives out all fear.'
     
    #3 Skandelon, Apr 9, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2012
  4. Skandelon

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    Great analogy! When I was a kid I did what my father asked because I sought the reward of an allowance OR fear the belt of his disciple (or both). Now, when my dad needs my help neither of these factors matter. I do it because I love him. He is my friend. I believe this is what God seeks with us too. It may begin in fear but he wants it to move into love.

    John 15:15
     
  5. Scarlett O.

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    Just my two cents.

    Fortunately for us, the Bible defines the fear of the Lord at least twice (that I know of).

    Proverbs 1:7“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Why is fearing God going to start us on a path of wise living? Because of Proverbs 8:13.

    Proverbs 8:13“To fear the Lord is to hate evil – pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth.”

    When I think of fearing the Lord in this context, I have to use Shiphrah and Puah as an example of people who hated evil so much and had reverence for God and His ways so much that they put their own life in peril to not commit evil acts that they were commanded to do.

    They refused to kill the baby boys of the Israelite slaves of Egypt. The Bible says this about them.

    "The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own." Exodus 1:17-21

    Fearing the Lord – hating evil and submitting to His wisdom and living a life of obedience to Him does not come from being afraid of Him. We are told many times in the Bible to NOT be afraid.


    And how can we be afraid of the One who loves us more that we could ever know and sent His Son to die for us and shows us mercy, grace, and patience that we do not deserve.


    "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, or anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

    Lastly, Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (which reminds me of Micah 6:8) says this about fearing God.

    "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?

    Fearing the Lord is revering Him and His ways so much out of our love for Him that we hate evil, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him, and keep His commandments.

    Fearing the Lord is not being so afraid of His wrath and judgement that we obey Him out of cowardice. We must obey Him because we love Him and hate evil as much as He does.
     
  6. Martin Marprelate

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    I'm glad this topic has come up. It allows me to post my very favourite piece of Scripture- Job 28. Here's the last half:-

    12 "But where can wisdom be found?
    And where is the place of understanding?
    13 Man does not know its value,
    Nor is it found in the land of the living.
    14 The deep says, 'It is not in me';
    And the sea says, 'It is not with me.'
    15 It cannot be purchased for gold,
    Nor can silver be weighed for its price.
    16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
    In precious onyx or sapphire.
    17 Neither gold nor crystal can equal it,
    Nor can it be exchanged for jewelry of fine gold.
    18 No mention shall be made of coral or quartz,
    For the price of wisdom is above rubies.
    19 The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it,
    Nor can it be valued in pure gold.
    20 "From where then does wisdom come?
    And where is the place of understanding?
    21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
    And concealed from the birds of the air.
    22 Destruction and Death say,
    'We have heard a report about it with our ears.'
    23 God understands its way,
    And He knows its place.
    24 For He looks to the ends of the earth,
    And sees under the whole heavens,
    25 To establish a weight for the wind,
    And apportion the waters by measure.
    26 When He made a law for the rain,
    And a path for the thunderbolt,
    27 Then He saw wisdom and declared it;
    He prepared it, indeed, He searched it out.
    28 And to man He said,
    'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
    And to depart from evil is understanding.' "

    Job 28:12-28 (NKJV)
     
  7. 12strings

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    But does this mean that once we come to know God, we have no more fear of him? It seems that even his followers are commanded to continue fearing him.

    I read this in Psalm 25 today: "The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant."


    It seems that the Loving relationship and the fear of God coexist side-by-side, rather than one replacing the other.
     
  8. Scarlett O.

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    Ah....very good.
     
  9. 12strings

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    One more scripture to throw into the equation:

    “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
    (Isaiah 8:12-14)


    Here the word "Dread" is used to describe the proper response to God...But it is a dread that leads to God becoming a sanctuary.
     
  10. Skandelon

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    You have a good point. There probably does need to be a good balance of both. However, scripture does teach that 'love drives out fear,' and that has been my own personal experience. I still feel like I have a healthy reverence type of fear of God, but I don't feel scared of Him or his wrath as I once did. I'm not serving him out of a fear of hell or in hopes of reward anymore, if that makes sense. More so now that ever before, I do what I do because I genuinely know and love Him, not because I fear him.
     
  11. Martin Marprelate

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    Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD' (Psalm 34:11). 'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom' (Prov 1:8).

    The fear of God is not a natural, reflexive fear like that brought about by imminent danger; nor is it a superstitious fear like that which makes people cross themselves or touch wood or avoid black cats. This is a divine fear, born of knowledge. It is the reverencing and adoring of God as immeasurably holy; to know and understand His great power and His hatred of sin To know Him as so great that we fear to displease Him; so good that we fear to lose Him, even temporarily. Therefore, if you or your minister is in the habit of being 'pally' or over-familiar with God- "Hey! Let's hear it for God!"- then I suggest you reconsider.

    The fear of the Lord is associated with knowing God personally- Psalm 25:14.
    The Lord hears the prayers of those who fear Him- Psalm 145:19-20.
    The fear of the Lord is associated with faith and industry- Heb 11:7.
    The fear of the Lord is associated with humility- Prov 22:4; with purity- Psalm 19:9; with hope- Psalm 33:18.
    The fear of the Lord is associated with the shunning of evil -Job 28:28 (cf. Rom 3:14-15 for the reverse of this). Yet it is not a craven fear, but one that actually brings comfort (Acts 9:31). And it is a fear that drives out carnal fear: Exod 18:21 could be translated, 'men of courage, such as fear God.'

    'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil' (Eccl 12:13-14).

    Steve
     
    #11 Martin Marprelate, Apr 9, 2012
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  12. Skandelon

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    I don't disagree with anything you've said, but just to add to it, I'd say we must look at the 'shift' we see in the new testament in regard to this subject as well in order to get a full picture of how we are to relate.

    When Jesus says, "I no longer call you servants, but friends..." in John 15:15 he reveals the desire of God for our relationship to develop beyond the fear of being a slave, to the intimacy of being a friend.

    Paul said it well when he wrote, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children."

    The intimacy of an 'Abba Father' relationship is to be desired over the slave/fear based relationship common in the old covenant way of understanding. Having been in both types of relationships I can assure you I'd never go back to the fear and slavery way of relating. The freedom, intimacy and joy with my Abba Father is sooooo much better.
     
  13. Mark_13

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    I started to compile a file called "bible-contradictions.rtf", not necessarily meant to be provocative - maybe we are meant to synthesize the whole truth from such seeming contradictions. But I have the following list of verses in one section:

    ==================

    (1 John 4:18) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    (Heb 2:15) and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

    (Rom 8:15) For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

    (Eph 6:5) Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.

    (2 Cor 5:10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

    (2 Cor 5:11) Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.

    (1 Pet 1:17) Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

    (1 Pet 2:17) Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

    (1 Cor 10:4-6) and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.
     
  14. Skandelon

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    Mark, I don't think of them as 'contradictions' but as a process. My relationship with my earthly dad started as more of a servant who feared his discipline and/or sought his payments. Now that I'm an adult, we golf together, share meals, and I help him around his house with chores he is too old to accomplish. I don't fear his disciple or except any payment, so why do I do it? Because we are friends. I love him.

    The relationship started one way but has developed and grown into something more, something better. They don't contradict each other, it is just a growth, or development of a relationship.
     
  15. Mark_13

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    In concurrence with you pretty much I think. I imagine though there weren't a lot of progressive patient tolerant fathers in Paul's day. In that patriarchal society they probably had the power of life and death over their household. Otoh, inheritance, wealth and future prospects all came through the father.

    But anyway, among those verses I listed, there are quite divergent directives it seems regarding the fundamental attitude we should have toward God - you have John saying perfect love casts out fear, and then Paul talking about fear based not only on the judgment seat of Christ in Heaven, but also the prospect of death and torment for craving sinful things. One could rationalize and say that John was an old man when he said what he said, and of a charitable mindset, and Paul was a much younger man, dealing with the pragmatic concerns of managing an unruly church. I'm just saying one could make that observation reasonably. Hopefully though there is some overriding divine intention for these seemingly contradictory directives to be there.
     
    #15 Mark_13, Apr 9, 2012
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  16. Iconoclast

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    :thumbs::applause::thumbsup::applause:
     
  17. David Lamb

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    What a good explanation! I'm going to save your words for future use (unless they are copyright, of course! :laugh: )
     
  18. MNJacob

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    Why would an all powerful, all knowing, absolutely Holy God who spoke the entire universe into being love me, in the condition that I am?

    I should be the dust under His feet (figuratively speaking).

    Not just to make me His slave, but to call me his friend, an to adopt me as His own child.

    When you wrap your head around that for just a bit, I think you get the "fear" thing.
     
  19. Forest

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    Both, we should fear God's wrath and also reverence him.
     
  20. seekingthetruth

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    How can you decide to fear God if all of your choices are already predestined for you?

    John
     

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