John T. Willis

Friday, January 04, 2013

Fear: This is a Heart Issue (Part I)

Fear is a character of the heart which is necessary for human life. Therefore, fear is a gift of God. Fear is absolutely essential for all human beings to be who God created us to be. BUT, all human beings can abuse God's gifts. In this and the next blog or blogs, we will discuss briefly what the Bible teaches about FEAR. I. The Fear of God is a positive attitude. God charges all of his people to FEAR God. a. Joshua instructed God's people in his farewell speech: "Now therefore FEAR the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:14-15). The NRSV translates "fear" here as "revere." b. Yahweh through Moses gave God's people FIVE requirements enumerated in Deuteronomy 10:12-13: "So now, O Israel, what doesthe Lord your God REQUIRE of you? ONLY to (1) FEAR the Lord your God, (2) to WALK IN ALL HIS WAYS; (3) to LOVE him; (4) to SERVE the Lord your God with all your HEART and with all your soul; and (5) to KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS of the Lord your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being." In this context, to "fear" God is equivalent to "love" God. c. The composer of Ecclesiastes concluded his work with these words: "The end of the matter: all has been heard. FEAR God, and keep his commandments; for tat is the whole duty of everyone" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Fearing God means honoring God, holding God in the highest regard, revering God, respecting God. II. Jesus taught his followers that one type of fear is helpful, but another type of fear is against God's will. a. Jesus taught his disciples: "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" (Matthew 10:28). b. Similarly, Jesus said: "I tell you, my friends, do no fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him" (Luke 12:4-5). Jesus tells us not to fear people who can kill us physically, because God will raise up again from the dead. At the same time, he instructs us to fear one who has authority to cast us into hell after this life is over. In other words, FEAR God, our creator and Lord. [To be continued in following blogs] Share YOUR insights and beliefs and failures and shortcomings with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis


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