Section 7... Living The Faith/ The Christian and God

   003white Living The Faith... The Biblical Christian     >       Index to The Knowledge, Fear, and Worship of God


Christians And The Fear of God...

Mushy, sentimental Christianity has to give way to an understanding that God is a God of love, but is also a God of wrath, fury and terror.

Also See Section on The Attributes of  God

The gravity of Biblical Christianity has largely been lost sight of. We are faced with a generation of people who, to their detriment, have absolutely no fear of God and, as a result, will face disastrous consequences. The balance has to be restored... Mushy, sentimental Christianity has to give way to an understanding that God is a God of love, but is also a God of wrath, fury and terror. The Biblical accounts of God's wrath are not out-of-date, antiquated fairy stories, nor has His wrath dissipated, or even lessened, over time. On the contrary all evidence seems to point to the fact that the terrible plagues and judgments in the book of Revelation are the accumulation of God's wrath over the history of mankind. See The Wrath of God




Muslims take their god and his prophet seriously. Christians... Not So Much

What The Scripture Say About Fearing God... The Old Testament
The Patriarchs and Prophets Feared The Lord
Soft Soaping The Term "Fear"... What the Hebrew Words Mean

What The Scripture Say About Fearing God... The New Testament
Why Did Jesus' Miracles Inspire Both Belief and Fear?
Soft Soaping The Term "Fear"...What the Greek Words Mean

Why We Should Fear God

Should Christians Fear God?
The Old Testament Says We Will Be Judged According To Our Deeds
The New Testament Says We Will Be Judged According To Our Deeds

Reconciling Salvation By Faith With Being Judged According To Our Deeds

Those Dangerous "Subtle" Sins
More Soft Soap
The Two Sides of Jesus

But Doesn't Perfect Love Cast Out Fear?



Anyone who stops long enough to really look at the world around him, will come to a chilling conclusion.... there is something fundamentally wrong with our society. Some essential component is either missing, or twisted beyond all recognition.

Paul, elaborating on the first three verses of Psalm 14, gave a very accurate evaluation of the human moral condition. He wrote

    as it is written, "there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." "their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving," "the poison of asps is under their lips"; "whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness"; "their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known." (Romans 3:10-17 NASB)

And the reason for this sick state of affairs. Paul's conclusion came from Psalm 36:1.

    "there is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:18 NASB)


Muslims take their god and his prophet seriously.
The 1988 publication of Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses" sparked a heated, and often violent, response from the Muslim world, which accused Rushdie of blasphemy. Not only was the book banned in several countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, and Indonesia, but bookstores in England, plus two in Berkeley, California were fire bombed. Several people dies in protests and demonstrations across Pakistan and India, while two Muslim leaders in Belgium who opposed Rushdie's death penalty were shot and killed. "The Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death, the Italian translator was seriously wounded, and the Norwegian publisher was shot and seriously wounded." (1) Finally, On Feb. 12, 1989, late Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa death warrant against Rushdie in 1989, forcing him into hiding for nine years.

When, in 2007, Rushdie was awarded a knighthood for services to literature, Pakistan's parliament adopted a resolution condemning the knighthood and said Britain should withdraw it. According to aljazeera.com

     Mohammad Ejaz-ul-Haq, the religious affair minister, said insults to Islam were the cause of terrorism. "The West always wonders about the root cause of terrorism. Such actions are the root cause of it," he told parliament. Adding  "If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honour of the Prophet Mohammad, his act is justified."  (2)

Since that day to this, whenever Westerners are perceived as denigrating Muhammad, the Qu'ran, or Islam in general, Muslims retaliate by demonstrating, rioting and/or attempting to kill those responsible.

In another, well known, incident, Fleming Rose, a Danish newspaper editor, published 12 provocative and inflammatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, including one in which the Prophet was shown wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse. The cartoons sparked off a global outcry, with condemnation from several Muslim countries and death threats issued against the artists.

The Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly newspaper, were firebombed in 2011 after the magazine published another cartoon ridiculing Muhammad. Yet, the next year they published other cartoons mocking the Muslim prophet. After the newspapers appeared on news stands, the government "sent riot police to the magazine's Paris offices and ordered the immediate closure of the French embassy and school in Tunisia, where last week's protests were particularly violent. Another 20 foreign embassies will be closed Friday, the Muslim holy day. (3)

In fact their protests get so heated that, in September 2005, Britain's Tate gallery canceled plans to display a piece of "art" (John Latham's God Is Great). Considering that this so called "art" consisted of "a large sheet of glass and copies of the Koran, the Bible and Judaism's Talmud that have been cut apart". (4), it was no more offensive to Muslims than to Christians or Jews. Yet the gallery banned the piece, not on religious grounds in general, but because it would upset Muslims. In light of the bomb attacks in London just a couple of months earlier, carried out by young Pakistani Britons and which killed over 50 people, no one wanted to make this "peaceful" religion take to the streets yet one more time. See Section Does Islam Promote Peace?

Muslims apparently take their god and his prophet very seriously. 

Christians... Not So Much
While I am certainly not suggesting that Christians firebomb anything or kill anyone, the difference between the Muslim's response to insults to their god, and Christians response to insults to Jesus, God, and the Bible, is remarkable. However misdirected it may be (to say the least) Muslims are willing to fly planes into towers, or blow themselves up in what they perceive as a battle between Islam and it's enemies.

There is no question that Andres Serrano's controversial work "Piss Christ", a red-tinged photograph of a crucifix submerged in a glass container of what was purported to be the artist's own urine, met with quite a bit of protest. For example, in April 2011, around 1,000 Christian protesters marched through Avignon, France to the gallery where it was on display in a contemporary art museum. A few days, later on April 17, 2011, the print was vandalized "beyond repair" by Christian protesters. It was also vandalized at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. (Sadly, when the piece went on exhibit at the Edward Tyler Nahem gallery in New York in September 2012 , there was silence from the White House which had, earlier the same month, denounced the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims. The administration even endeavored to have the film removed from YouTube. (5))

However, Andres Serrano's work was one extreme example.

All over this country there are, literally, innumerable instances of people dis-respecting the Christian God every single day, and we do little or nothing about it.

Apparently "tolerance" in America is a one way street. Although a supposedly English speaking country has little idea of what the word means, Christians are supposed to put up with every brickbat the heathen chooses to throw. Seduced by the false claim that 'Separation of Church and State' is part of the constitution....

    We have allowed our God to be thrown out of public places, including our schools. And, we do little or nothing about it.

    We have indulgently allowed Christ to be take out of Christmas.. the nativity scene replaced by a fat man in a red suit that finds his roots not in an ancient Catholic saint, but in the occult. The very greeting "Merry Christmas" replaced by the ubiquitous "Happy Holidays". And, we do little or nothing about it. (See Santa Claus)

    We tolerate a secular world's blatant contempt for the Christian God, seen not only in blasphemous "art", but in the everyday language used on the streets and in Hollywood. And, we do little or nothing about it.

What if, as coach Daubmire asks

    ".... Christians felt the duty to defend the One we are to serve? What if we made a determination that we would no longer permit the Name Above All Names to be dis-respected in America? What if we demanded that Christ be honored in our schools, in our government, and in our homes? What if we took to the streets in defense of the One who defended us? What if we were, once again, wise enough to fear His Name? (6)

So why don't we do any of these things? Unfortunately, as he also says

    "Muslims revere their god. Christians compartmentalize theirs". (6)

Besides which, all too many (perhaps the vast majority) Christians have a very one dimensional, view of their God. We see the creator of the universe as a benevolent, all loving, celestial bellhop that seems to exist only to provide us with more "blessings". We absorb very little of what the Bible says about serving God, and insist that He serve us... seemingly, finding comfort in religious clichs that are rarely, if ever, taken to heart. For example, we regularly call on Him to "bless" our country, without paying the slightest attention to the fact that nations that are, as a whole, disobedient to Him, are never blessed but, quite to the contrary, are objects of His wrath.

We claim to read our Bibles yet, in both Old and New Testaments, it paints the reality and terror of God's wrath in graphic, easy to understand, terms. Yet today's powerless, sickly sweet, sentimental, Christianity has chosen to babble on and on about the goodness and love of God, but totally ignore (to our peril) His wrath and judgment. And because we do not choose to see, much less acknowledge, this side of the God we claim to serve, we do not fear Him.

    Professing ourselves to be wise, we have become fools. (Romans 1:22).

What The Scripture Say About Fearing God... The Old Testament
God Himself warned that His people should fear Him all the days of their lives, and teach their children to do so as well..

    "Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear (Heb. yre) Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.' (Deuteronomy 4:10 NASB)

    Job quoted God as saying "Behold, the fear (Heb. yir'h) of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.'" (Job 28:28 NASB)

    "You are not to say, 'It is a conspiracy!' In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear (Heb. yre) what they fear or be in dread of it. "It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear (Heb. mr), And He shall be your dread (Heb. rats) . (Isaiah 8:12-13 NASB)

    'Do you not fear (Heb. yre) Me?' declares the LORD. 'Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it. (Jeremiah 5:22 NASB)

    and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear (Heb. yre) Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. (Jeremiah 32:39 NASB)

The Patriarchs and Prophets Feared The Lord
Certainly the godly men of the Bible took God seriously. The Old Testament is replete with examples of people who feared God, and who full well understood the consequences of not doing so.

Abraham's faith was put to the most extraordinary test when he was commanded to sacrifice Isaac. When he arrived at mount Moriah prepared to do so, he was stopped by an angel who directed him to a ram that could be sacrificed instead.  In the angel's words

    He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear (Heb. yre) God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." (Genesis 22:12 NASB)

Exodus 1 relates the story of how the Israeli slave population increased to such an extent, that the Pharaoh commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill all the newborn male children. However, the midwives disobeyed the order because they feared the Lord.

    Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; and he said, "When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birth stool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live." But the midwives feared (Heb. yre) God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.... Because the midwives feared (Heb. yre) God, He established households for them. (Exodus 1:15-17, 21 NASB)

We are told that Moses hid his face at the burning bush, "for he was afraid (Heb. yre) to look at God". (Exodus 3:6).

When, in Exodus 19, the Lord came down on Sinai, He instructed that the people consecrate themselves, and if anyone, man or beast, touch the mountain, they would die. Of this the author of Hebrews said "And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I am full of fear (Gk. ekphobos) and trembling." (Hebrews 12:21 NASB). And the people got the message.. loud and clear.

    Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die." Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear (Heb. yir'h) of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin." (Exodus 20:19-20 NASB)

When the king of Judah, appointed judges in the land, he warned them to be very careful to judge rightly, because the Lord would have no part in partiality or bribes. When Jehoshaphat told them that the fear of the Lord was to be upon them, he used the Hebrew word pachad, which means terror or dread.

     "Consider what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord who is with you when you render judgment. "Now then let the fear (Heb. pachad) of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe." (2 Chronicles 19:6-7 NASB)

In chapter 5, Nehemiah confronted the nobles and the rulers of Israel who were practicing usury with their brethren. This in spite of the fact that the law disallowed the taking of interest from fellow Israelites. (see Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36). Nehemiah called the rulers to account, upbraided them for their evil deeds, and asked them if they should not "walk in the fear (Heb. yir'h) of our God" (V. 9). He then got them to promise to return to the people "their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oil" that was being exacted from them. In verse 15, Nehemiah says

    But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear (Heb. yre) of God. (Nehemiah 5:15 NASB)

The Psalmists, using several different Hebrew words, said the Lord was to be greatly feared, gifts or offerings which expressed gratitude and homage were to be brought, and that he trembled at the fear of the Lord

    Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them; Let all who are around Him bring gifts to Him who is to be feared (Heb. mr). (Psalms 76:11 NASB)

    A God greatly feared (Heb. rats) in the council of the holy ones, And awesome (Heb. yre) above all those who are around Him? (Psalms 89:7 NASB)

    You have removed all the wicked of the earth like dross; Therefore I love Your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear (Heb. pachad) of You, And I am afraid (Heb. yre) of Your judgments. (Psalms 119:119-120 NASB)

When the prophet Isaiah was given a dramatic vision of the sovereign majesty of the holy Lord, sitting on a throne surrounded by Seraphim, with His train filling the temple, (See The Holiness of God), the first words out of Isaiah's mouth reflected an overwhelming conviction of his own unworthiness...

    Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 6:5 NASB)

And later added

    "It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear (Heb. mr) , And He shall be your dread (Heb. rats) . (Isaiah 8:13 NASB)

    But when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, They will sanctify My name; Indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob And will stand in awe (Heb. rats) of the God of Israel. (Isaiah 29:23 NASB)

Soft Soaping The Term "Fear"... What the Hebrew Words Mean
If you examine the meaning of the Hebrews words translated "fear" or "dread", it becomes clear that the Biblical fear of God ranged from deep respect and reverential awe - to sheer terror

Yre or yir'h
Many the above verses use the Hebrew words yre or yir'h, but I find very few examples in which these words unambiguously mean mean "reverence" or "awe". For example

    'Every one of you shall reverence (Heb. yre) his mother and his father, and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:3 NASB)

    You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence (Heb. yre) My sanctuary; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 26:2 NASB)

    "Is it because of your reverence (Heb. yre) that He reproves you, That He enters into judgment against you? (Job 22:4 NASB)

The context of the vast majority of verses in which yre is used, very definitely indicates that it means 'to be afraid of' (even sheer terror in some cases), as seen in the following examples

    "Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear (Heb. yre) him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. (Genesis 32:11 NASB)

    "He shall say to them, 'Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid (Heb. yre), or panic, or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.' (Deuteronomy 20:3-4 NASB)

    "You will laugh at violence and famine, And you will not be afraid (Heb. yre) of wild beasts. (Job 5:22 NASB)

    He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened (Heb. yre) and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me. Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten (Heb. yre) me. (Nehemiah 6:13-14 NASB)

    Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear (Heb. yre) the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did. "For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent and My anger will be directed to their destruction." (Isaiah 10:24-25 NASB)

    "In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear (Heb. yre); And from terror, for it will not come near you. "If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you. (Isaiah 54:14-15 NASB)

    Then the sailors became afraid (Heb. yre) and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. (Jonah 1:5 NASB)

    "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible (Heb. yre) day of the LORD. (Malachi 4:5 NASB)

The Hebrew word pachad which means "terror" or "dread", was used in verses that spoke about Israel's conquest of the pagan nations. Part of Moses and the nation's song of prayer to the Lord, was...

    "In Your loving kindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation. "The peoples have heard, they tremble; Anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia. "Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; The leaders of Moab, trembling grips them; All the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. "Terror and dread (Heb. pachad) fall upon them; By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone; Until Your people pass over, O Lord, Until the people pass over whom You have purchased. (Exodus 15:13-16 NASB)

Joshua was told that the nations would dread him and his armies.

    'Arise, set out, and pass through the valley of Arnon. Look! I have given Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land into your hand; begin to take possession and contend with him in battle. 'This day I will begin to put the dread (Heb. pachad) and fear (Heb. yir'h) of you upon the peoples everywhere under the heavens, who, when they hear the report of you, will tremble and be in anguish because of you.' (Deuteronomy 2:24-25 NASB) (also See Deuteronomy 11:23-25

And the same word pachad, is used for the terror of the end times

    Men will go into caves of the rocks And into holes of the ground Before the terror (Heb. pachad) of the LORD And the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble (Heb. rats). (Isaiah 2:19 NASB)

Mr and rats

The word rats means great dread or to shake terribly. Both mr and rats were used of the terrors of the plagues of Egypt and the coming overpowering fear that will occur in the last days, which should give us some idea of of how strong a fear the words indicate

    'You brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and with wonders, and with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with great terror (Heb. mr) ; (Jeremiah 32:21 NASB)

    In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs Before the terror (Heb. pachad) of the LORD and the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble (Heb. rats). (Isaiah 2:21 NASB)

What The Scripture Say About Fearing God... The New Testament

In spite of what many people believe, nothing changed in the New Testament, which tells us that

    "... His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear (phobeo) HIM. (Luke 1:50 NASB)

    "...in every nation the man who fears (phobeo) Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. (Acts 10:35 NASB)

Jesus Himself said

    "Do not fear (Gk. phobeo) those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear (Gk. phobeo) Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 NASB)

Paul warned the Gentiles that they needed to persevere in the faith, because if they did not they would be just as the unbelieving Jews were. They needed to fear, not be conceited.

    You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear (Gk. phobeo); for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:19-22 NASB)

If Paul warned the Philippian believers that they needed to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. (It is crucial for us to pay heed to Paul's words, faced as we are with a myriad of false, even demonic doctrines). See The Modern Church's Literal Doctrines and Practices of Demons

    So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear (Gk. phobos) and trembling ; (Philippians 2:12 NASB)

Especially since only those that fear God will come through the tribulation

    "And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear (Gk. phobeo) Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:18 NASB)

    And a voice came from the throne, saying, "Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear (Gk. phobeo) Him, the small and the great." (Revelation 19:5 NASB)

Jesus' Miracles Inspired Both Belief and Fear

Incidentally, we often talk of the miracles that Jesus performed, and why He did so. But what we seldom realize is that, although we usually think healing miracles should inspire only rejoicing and joy, the miracles done by Jesus inspired both faith and great fear. Certainly the overwhelming emotions of those who were actually healed had to have been extreme joy and gratitude, but the onlookers often realized that God was in their midst (which is why the miracles were done in the first place), which scared the dickens out of them. This is made clear by the first example

    When the only son of a widow was raised from the dead, "Fear (Gk. phobos) gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and, "God has visited His people!" (Luke 7:16 NASB)

     When Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples "became very much afraid (Gk. phobeo) and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" (Mark 4:41 NASB)

    When Jesus healed the paralytic, the crowd was "all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear (Gk. phobos), saying, "We have seen remarkable things today." (Luke 5:26 NASB)

The people who witnessed Jesus healing of the demon possessed man by sending the demons into a herd of swine, were so frightened that they asked Jesus to leave them

     When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened (Gk. phobeo). Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear (Gk. phobos); and He got into a boat and returned. (Luke 8:34-37 NASB)

Also See Authenticating The Coming of The Messiah and The Advent of the Kingdom

Soft Soaping The Term "Fear"...What the Greek Words Mean

Unfortunately (for us) we, in the 21st century, have seriously downplayed the fear of God. I am not sure whether this is done because modern Christians believe that we no longer need to fear Him because we live under the New Covenant and are justified by faith, because the term "fear" is considered to be too harsh or blunt, or simply because "fear" does not fit in with the popular modern vision of God as a kindly, white haired, grandfather in the sky. Even those who believe that His wrath   is to be greatly feared, believe that anyone who has made a one time profession of faith has absolutely nothing to worry about. See Salvation

Whatever the reason, we have substituted milder terms such as respect, reverence, or awe, for the Biblical "fear". I have even read that the unbeliever's fear of God is the fear of the judgment of God and punishment for sin, but the believer's fear is "reverence of God". I do not have the slightest idea how this is possible considering that the Bible uses the same word in regard to both believer and unbeliever. Euphemisms such as reverence and awe do a very good job of concealing the full meaning of the word "fear".

and phobos
The Greek words phobeo
and phobos (the source of our English "phobia") are together used over 140 times in the New Testament. While there is little question that we also have to reverence God, and very wise to be in awe of Him, we should endeavor not to try and cover up the fact that phobos means to be very afraid, clearly shown by the following examples.

There was no "respect" involved in the feeling of the guards who saw the angel at the tomb. They were terrified

    And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear (Gk. phobos) of him and became like dead men. (Matthew 28:2-4 NASB)

And, not many people faint from reverence, but they will if they get fearful enough.

    "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear (Gk. phobos) and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Luke 21:25-26 NASB)

John relates several instances of people doing, or not doing, something because they were afraid of the Jews

    Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear (Gk. phobos) of the Jews. (John 7:13 NASB)

    After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear (Gk. phobos) of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. (John 19:38 NASB)

    So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear (Gk. phobos) of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19 NASB)

And certainly these next incidents, related in the book of Acts, were enough to give anyone chills

    But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear (Gk. phobos) came over all who heard of it. (Acts 5:3-5 NASB)

    But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, "I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches." Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, "I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear (Gk. phobos) fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. (Acts 19:13-17 NASB)


The Greek word phoberos, used three times in the New Testament,  has been translated into "terrifying" twice, and "terrible" once

    but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:27 NASB)

    It is a terrifying (phoberos) thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31 NASB)

    And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I am full of fear and trembling." (Hebrews 12:21 NASB)

The Bible is also exceedingly clear as to why we should fear God.

Why We Should Fear God
The Biblical reasons for why we should fear God, can be summed up by the following three points

1) God Hates Sin:
From cover to cover, the Bible makes it clear that God hates sin and evil .

    "To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech" (Proverbs 8:13).

Jesus echoed the Father's abhorrence, when He made the point that being maimed is preferable to continuing in sin, which will result in incurring the Father's wrath.

    "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell" (Matthew 18:7-9).

2) God Will Judge and Convict The World Of Sin
There are verses aplenty that speak of the coming judgment...

    because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:31 NASB)

    on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:16 NASB)

    But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. (Romans 14:10 NASB)

    "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29 NASB)

    "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; (John 16:8 NASB)

    But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7 NASB)

    And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27 NASB)

3a) Fearing The Lord Keeps a Person From Sin:
The Scriptures are very clear that the fear of the Lord is the wisdom that keeps a person from doing the evil that God hates...

    "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear (Heb. yir'h) of God will be with you to keep you from sinning" (Exodus 20:20).

    "By loving kindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear (Heb. yir'h) of the Lord one keeps away from evil. (Proverbs 16:6 NASB)

    "I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear (Heb. yir'h) of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. (Jeremiah 32:40 NASB)

    "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear (Gk. phobos) of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1, NASB)

When Abraham settled in Gerar, Abimelech the king fancied Sarah. Abraham was afraid that since there was no fear of God in Gerar, they would kill him because of Sarah, therefore he did not tell the king that Sarah was his wife, claiming only that she was his sister. Abraham knew that it was the fear of God that prevented men from committing terrible crimes.

    Abraham said, "Because I thought, surely there is no fear (Heb. yir'h) of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. (Genesis 20:11 NASB)

See Sin: few know, or understand how the Bible defines sin

3b) The Fear of The Lord is intrinsically linked to Salvation

People who fear the Lord avoid the snares of death. In other words the fear of God is linked to salvation itself.

    When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation. Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, So is the lazy one to those who send him. The fear (Heb. yir'h) of the Lord prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. The hope of the righteous is gladness, But the expectation of the wicked perishes. The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the upright, But ruin to the workers of iniquity. (Proverbs 10:25-29 NASB)

    The fear (Heb. yir'h) of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:27 NASB)

    The fear (Heb. yir'h) of the Lord leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. (Proverbs 19:23 NASB)

    Do not let your heart envy sinners, But live in the fear (Heb. yir'h) of the LORD always. Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:17-18 NASB)

See Salvation Staying Away from Abbreviated and Highly Inaccurate Salvation Messages

While there are many believers who follow and are disciples of Jesus, because they love the Lord, there are many others who would do well to remember that they need to fear Him, because that fear can very well keep a person on the straight and narrow. As the the book of Revelation tells us, those who destroy the earth will themselves, be destroyed however, those that fear the Lord will be rewarded, along the prophets and saints who are the Lord's bond-servants... .

    "And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:18 NASB)

Solomon clearly connected the the fear of the Lord with the coming judgment.

    The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NASB)

As did Paul, many centuries later, in his letter to the Corinthians

    For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:10-11 NASB)

Pay attention to the fact that Paul used the phrase "we must all" (underlined above), which means he did not exclude himself. If Paul, who wrote two thirds of the New Testament, will appear before the judgment seat to be recompensed for his deeds (whether good or bad), can any professing Christian imagine that their faith will exclude them from having to do so?

Is it any wonder then that the prophet Isaiah said the fear of the Lord is the key to the great treasure of God's blessings, while the psalmist said it was the beginning of wisdom.

    The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear (Heb. yir'h) of the LORD is his treasure. (Isaiah 33:5-6 NASB)

    The fear (Heb. yir'h) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. (Psalm 111:10 NASB)

However, I suppose the question has to be asked... Are Christians supposed to fear God? Or, perhaps, a better way to phrase the question would be... Is it wise for Christians to fear God?

Should Christians Fear God?
The Bible tells us that, because of our very nature, all of us were children of wrath who were saved by grace, and made alive in Christ

    And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2:1-5 NASB)

One of the best known, best loved, verses in all Christendom is found in the book of John

    "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NASB)

who also said

    "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24 NASB)

However, while those must be some of the most reassuring statements in all the Bible, we simply cannot focus on them to the exclusion of others. Doing so only leads to an inaccurate, one sided, view of salvation. Regardless of the subject, our theology has to be based on all relevant verses, since it is only by taking all of them into consideration, that we can  be sure that we have a more and rounded, and infinitely more accurate, picture of what the Bible teaches. In the context of this article, although John said God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son so those that believe in Him shall have eternal life, he also warned

    "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides (Gk meno) on him." (John 3:36 NASB)

We need to pay close attention to the fact that, in the statement above, the opposite of belief is disobedience. The Greek word meno means to "remain" or "stay". In other words, His wrath remains on everyone who does not obey the Son. If this statement made by John was directed solely at unbelievers, then Paul's warning to two separate groups of believers was grossly misdirected. He told them that stubborn unrepentant hearts, and sins like greed, covetousness, immorality, or idolatry would cause the wrath of God to come down on them.

    But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, (Romans 2:5 NASB)

    But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:3-6 NASB)

Peter did not mince words when it comes to Christians facing the judgment.

    For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17 NASB)

And Paul lumped those who do not obey in with those who do not know God. Both will be at the receiving end of God's wrath.

    dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:8 NASB)

Not only will Christians, who do not obey the Son, face judgment but, James made it extremely clear that certain Christians would be more strictly judged...

    Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1 NASB)

The Old Testament Says We Will Be Judged According To Our Deeds

Although it is commonly believed that salvation by anything other than a simple faith in Jesus is a works based doctrine, the Bible tells us, over and over again, that every person will be judged by their actions... or what they do.

Unless we are extremely foolish, we would do well to pay close attention to those verses in the Old Testament that tell us that God said that not only would He withdraw from people who practiced evil, and not love them anymore, but He would actually hate them, and would neither pity nor feel sorry for them. Note that in all cases, the reason given for the Lord's reaction is the evil deeds of the person, or people, involved. In other words, God will repay according to a person's deeds.

    Their deeds will not allow them To return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, And they do not know the LORD. Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him, And Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also has stumbled with them. They will go with their flocks and herds To seek the LORD, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn from them. (Hosea 5:4-6 NASB)

    All their evil is at Gilgal; Indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels. (Hosea 9:15 NASB)

    Then they will cry out to the LORD, But He will not answer them. Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time because they have practiced evil deeds. (Micah 3:4 NASB)

    "I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds. (Jeremiah 17:10 NASB)

    "I, the LORD, have spoken; it is coming and I will act. I will not relent, and I will not pity and I will not be sorry; according to your ways and according to your deeds I will judge you," declares the Lord GOD.'" (Ezekiel 24:14 NASB)

The Example of Saul

The 15th chapter of 1 Samuel relates how God told king Saul that He would punish the Amalekites for how they treated the nation of Israel as they were on their way out of Egypt (Vs.2). He told Saul to strike Amalek and utterly destroy man and beast (Vs.3). However, Saul did not obey and "spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good" (Vs 9).

Saul's actions caused the Lord to tell Samuel that he regretted making Saul king since he did not carry out His commands (Vs. 11)... a message that Samuel conveyed to Saul (Vs. 12-21).  Saul's excuse was that the people had taken "some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal". To which Samuel replied

    "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king." (1 Samuel 15:22-23 NASB)

Note that the people supposedly took the best of the sheep and oxen to offer in sacrifice to the Lord, which they obviously considered the right thing to do. However, the bottom line is that they, with the tacit approval of their king, disobeyed the Lord... something He did not take lightly. He did not overlook their disobedience because they intended to sacrifice the sheep to Him but, since they were a nation under a king, held the king (Saul) responsible.

This is a lesson that all Christians need to take to heart. Simply professing Christ as Lord, attending church, reading the latest "Christian" book, or attending the never ending "Christian" conferences (whatever those are), or drinking your coffee from a mug marked with a Bible verse, will do nothing for you. 

To obey is all important, and takes precedence over everything else. If we do not do so, we will hear the same words that Saul did..."The Lord has rejected you". (Vs. 23 and 26)

The New Testament Says We Will Be Judged According To Our Deeds
Most Christians claim to believe that God is unchanging, yet will foolishly deny that God can, and does, withdraw from people under the new covenant. The problem is that the New Testament says exactly the same thing the Old Testament did. For example, in the words of the Lord Himself

    "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:21 NASB)

    "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. (Matthew 16:27 NASB)

    "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12 NASB)

Note that the last quote above was specifically written to believers, as were the following words, addressed to different churches. Those churches that kept His deeds to the very end would be rewarded, while the ones that did not were in danger of having their lamp stand removed from it's place.

    To the church in Sardis : He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 'Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. (Revelation 3:1-2 NASB)

    To the church in Ephesus 'Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lamp stand out of its place--unless you repent. (Revelation 2:5 NASB)

    To the church in Thyatira: 'He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; (Revelation 2:26 NASB)

Paul was very clear about the importance of deeds

    Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:1-11 NASB)

    Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. (1 Corinthians 3:8 NASB)

    For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB)

Reconciling Salvation By Faith With Being Judged According To Our Deeds
But how can a person be judged by his deeds when the Bible clearly tells us that we are saved by grace through faith. Is it possible to reconcile the two?

The answer is a resounding "yes". Not only can the two concepts be reconciled, but they are actually inseparable.

Sadly, the modern church has become so focused on the whole idea of just believing, that it has completely lost sight of the Biblical meaning of the word "faith". The Bible nowhere supports the idea that a mental assent to Jesus having lived, died, and been resurrected is enough to save a person. Nor do the Scriptures ever state, or even imply, that believing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins is sufficient to give us eternal life. (See The Myth of Faith Alone)

The Bible states, in very unambiguous terms, that faith is not just a matter of believing, but of following through on that belief. Lets return for a moment to John 3:36, which says

    "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36 NASB)

We need to pay close attention to the fact that, in the statement above, the opposite of belief is disobedience. In other words, a person who believes... obeys the commands of our Lord. If they do not obey, they do not really believe, much as they might think they do. We will be judged according to what our deeds because what we do is clear evidence of what we really believe.

Obedience Is Evidence Of Love
Lets turn to the words of the Savior Himself, who said obedience is the evidence of our love for Him...

    "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:21 NASB)

    "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB)

    "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? "Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: (Luke 6:46-47 NASB)

    "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15 NASB)

    "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." (John 14:21 NASB)

    Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. (John 14:23 NASB)

Also See Acknowledging Jesus Merely as Savior is Insufficient

    Over and over again the apostles reiterated that loving God means keeping His commandments.

      For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3 NASB)

      that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:9-10 NASB)

    Paul talked about the "obedience of faith"

      through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake, (Romans 1:5 NASB)

      but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; (Romans 16:26 NASB)

    The author of Hebrews said eternal salvation was only available to those who obeyed

      And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, (Hebrews 5:9 NASB)

    James said a professed faith without deeds was dead.... a person's deeds were the evidence of their faith.

      What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:14-18 NASB)

      (Note that people often think that these words contradict Paul's teaching that salvation is by faith alone. However, reading the words of James and Paul out of context can lead to the mistaken opinion that they are contrary to one another. If read in the context of each apostle's overall message, it becomes clear that each of them was addressing different situations, and had different objectives. (See The Myth of Faith Alone)

    And it has been this way from the beginning. When God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the altar, Abraham did not argue that God had promised that he (Abraham) would be the father of many nations, and that his seed would be as numerous as the stars, none of which would be possible if he killed his son. Pay very close to attention to God's words after the ram was found, and sacrificed. (All Emphasis Added)

      "... By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the seashore. And thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:16-18)

    Has anyone ever noticed that not once do the Scriptures record Abraham as saying that he believed, or trusted God, but only records his actions as evidence of his faith. Thousands of years later, we know how great his faith was because of what he did, not what he said, what he felt, what he thought, or even what he believed.

    The Parable Of The Sower
    In the parable of the sower (Luke 8) Jesus Himself said that the seed that fell on the side of the road was snatched away by satan "so that they will not believe and be saved." If one does not read the parable in it's entirety, these words can be construed to mean that belief alone is sufficient for salvation. However, Jesus goes on to make it very clear that there is more to salvation than mere belief. In the next few verses, He says

      "Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.  (8:13)

    Note that a person cannot give in to sin and "believe" at the same time. Their belief can only be considered authentic until temptation gets the better of them.

      "The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. (8:14)

    Similarly, the worries and pleasures of this life chokes out what some people have heard... we know this because they bring "no fruit to maturity". Again, it is their effect that their faith has on their lives, character and deeds that counts.

      "But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. (8:15)

    In the other hand, those that have the seed sown in good soil persevere in their faith and "bear fruit".

    Those Dangerous "Subtle" Sins

    In the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25), Jesus condemned not only those who were evil doers in terms of being idolaters or immoral, but also those who were disobedient to his command to love one another. As James said "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin". (James 4:17 NASB)

    Note Paul's words to the churches in Galatia and Ephesia. He included, what we might call "smaller" sins in the same list as idolatry and sorcery

      Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:19-26 NASB)

      But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:3-6 NASB)

      Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. (Colossians 3:5-8 NASB)

    Many of the sins Paul lists, that will disbar a person from the kingdom of God, are subtle sins that are not always visible on the surface. But, hidden sins will be brought to light and condemn us just as readily as the more flagrant ones.

      Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5 NASB)

      As Jesus told the church in Thyatira ".... all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds". (Revelation 2:23 NASB)

    Even jealousy, envying, greed, anger, wrath, outbursts of anger, malice and slander will bring down the wrath of God, whether or not the person is a church going, professing Christian. Those who indulge in these sins are called "the sons of disobedience" in two of the above verses. Again these verses are not referring to the occasional sin that is forgiven upon repentance and confession, but is speaking of sinning as a way of life, which amount to rebellion and disobedience, which is the death knell.

      For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26-27 NASB)

    Any believer who has secret sins that he, or she, has not repented of, has every reason to fear the Lord. Whether you are part of a church or not, you are under a huge delusion if you are mistaking His patience for His approval

    More Soft Soap
    Christians tend to reassure themselves, and each other, with verses that appear to support the position that we will never have anything to fear from our God. Two of the favorites are Romans 8:38-39 (nothing can separate us from His love), and Hebrews 13:5 (He will never leave us or forsake us). Lets look at each of the verses in turn...

      For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NASB)

    The word "us" in the above verses refer to Christians, and were written to encourage believers concerning the confidence they have in Christ.  Those that are in Christ and have the Spirit of Christ are protected by God from all forces that would wish to separate them from His love. However, note that no confidence or assurance is offered to those that are not in Christ. In fact, a few verses earlier, Paul wrote (Emphasis Added)

      for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13 NASB)

     Similarly Jesus said

      "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:27-29).

    Jesus said that His sheep listen to his voice and those sheep will be given eternal life. The situation is similar to Romans 8:38-39, inasmuch as it endeavors to give the believer confidence that no outside force can snatch them out of the Father's hand. However, if a person gets to the point where they cannot, or do not, hear His voice, they certainly are not His sheep and these assurances do not apply to them. They cannot claim to have any blessing of God, much less eternal life.

    Also See Acknowledging Jesus Merely as Savior is Insufficient

    Hebrews 13:5 has been taken so completely out of context to be almost laughable. If the verse is read in it's entirety, it is clear that the author was warning against covetousness, and was telling his readers to be content with the things they had. The word "for" connects both parts of the sentence.

      Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," (Hebrews 13:5 NASB) Also see Matthew 6:25

    However, note what the author of Hebrews said (using the Greek phobeo) just a few chapters earlier.

      And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, let us fear (Gk. phobeo) if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 3:18 - 4:1 NASB)

    And perhaps, we need to get rid of our rather one sided view of Jesus

    The Two Sides of Jesus
    Yes, I know that Jesus is the Lamb of God, but the pictures of Him as a gentle and rather ascetic looking individual cradling a lamb have so influenced our perspective of Him, that we apparently cannot see His other side. Yes, He is gentle with His flock, but stop and pay close attention to what else the Bible says (something we seem to excel at ignoring). The prophet Zechariah tells us that

      "In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south". (Zechariah 14:4 NASB)

    The book of Revelation paints a very alarming picture of the Lamb of God at who's word this very earth will be destroyed.

      In the final moments of this era Jesus will ride down on a white horse, followed by the armies of Heaven, clothed in fine linen. He will be clothed in a robe dipped in blood, His eyes will be a flame of fire, and He will carry a sharp sword to strike down the nations and treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God. On His robe is written, "King Of Kings, and Lord Of Lords" (Revelation 19:11-16)

    If the description above does not instill fear and awe in your heart, then I will have to presume you take it to be a non literal fairy tale, you are a very confident Christian or a very foolhardy one. Hopefully you can, like Paul, say "in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing". (2 Timothy 4:8 NASB).

    But remember, that Paul could only say this with full confidence because he knew that he had fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith, which is what he said in the preceding verse. (See Context is Crucial)

    But Doesn't Perfect Love Cast Out Fear?
    There are verses in the New Testament that indicate that there is no place for fear in the heart and mind of the believer. John said "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love" (1 John 4:18 NASB)

    About this verse Bible commentator Adam Clarke said "The man who feels that he loves God with all his heart can never dread him as his Judge"... a statement that can only be understood IF we take the verse in context. In the preceding verse John said "as He is, so also are we in this world". In other words, not having fear is conditional upon us demonstrating the same traits the Saviour had. Should we do so, then there is nothing to worry about on the day of judgment. Read both verses together

      By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:17-18 NASB)

    Similarly, in the book of Romans, Paul said

      for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:13-15 NASB)

    Once again, those who are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God and have no reason to fear. However, a person who professes belief, but does not obey the Lord and turn away from the sins and indulgences of the world, are not led by the Spirit of God and have every reason to fear Him.


    End Notes

    (1) Jim Loy. Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses http://www.jimloy.com/issues/rushdie.htm

    (2) Pakistan blasts Rushdie honour. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2007/06/2008525123146597321.html

    (3) (Seth Cline Lewd Muhammad Cartoons Force France to Shut Down Embassies.
    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/09/19/lude-muhammad-cartoons-force-france-to-shut-down-embassies. September 19, 2012

    (4) Tate 'misunderstood' banned work. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4281958.stm

    (5) Todd Starnes WH Silent Over Demands to Denounce Piss Christ Artwork.

    (6) Coach Dave Daubenmire. Christians Have No Fear Of God. http://www.newswithviews.com/Daubenmire/dave12.htm

    (7) http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/burden?q=burden+of+proof#burden__19

    (8) http://www.thefreedictionary.com/burdensome

    (9) http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/kurios.html


    The Knowledge, Fear and Worship of God


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