[forthright] Are You Scared?

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 15:48:57 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: Fidelity

Are You Scared?
by Mike Benson

Contrary to today's popular philosophy, fear has a
legitimate place in our lives. "Then the churches
throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had
peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of
the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit,
they were multiplied" (Acts 9:31).

DEFINING the fear of the Lord. The Hebrew word for
"fear" is yirah and is used in the Old Testament
to denote terror. The Greek word is phobos (from
which we get our English word "phobia") and is
used in the New Testament to denote alarm, fright,
or dread. These two words also convey the ideas of
reverence and awe (Psalm 89:7), which, in turn,
suggest a trembling (Philippians 2:12) --
literally, a quaking with fear. When we have a
proper fear of the Lord, we quake at the idea of
offending Him (Hebrews 10:26-27; 30:31; 12:28-29).

DEFENDING the fear of the Lord. The presence of
the fear of the Lord 1) prompts obedience -- "...
Noah ... moved with godly fear ... prepared an ark
for the saving of his household ..." (Hebrews
11:7); 2) prevents sin -- "For God has come to
test you, and that His fear may be before you, so
that you may not sin" (Exodus 20:20; cf. 19:16;
20:18); and 3) produces growth -- "So great fear
came upon all the church ... and believers were
increasingly added to the Lord ..." (Acts 5:11a,
14a). The absence of the fear of the Lord 1)
abhors goodness -- "The fear of the Lord is to
hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way
..." (Proverbs 8:13); 2) abdicates assurance --
"In the fear of the Lord there is strong
confidence" (Proverbs 14:26); and abandons
repentance -- "The fear of the Lord leads to life"
(Proverbs 19:23).

DEVELOPING the fear of the Lord. Just as faith is
produced by hearing the Word (Romans 10:17), so is
godly fear. "When all Israel comes to appear
before the Lord your God in the place which He
chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel
in their hearing. Gather the people together, men
and women and little ones, and the stranger who is
within your gates, that they may hear and that
they may learn to fear the Lord your God and
carefully observe all of the words of this law"
(Deuteronomy 31:11-12).

"One of the strange phenomena of our day is the
spectacle of religion dropping the appeal to fear
while other human interests have picked it up.
Just look around. Everybody is preaching fear
except the church. We are being taught to fear
everything from AIDS to radon, from the hole in
the ozone to the cutting down of the rain forests.
We see fear as a good thing -- something
worthwhile and productive. In the words of Burke,
'Early and provident fear is the mother of
safety.' Then it becomes a 'no-no.' We are
enjoined to talk exclusively about the love of
God. Don't mention the wrath of God. Don't talk
about hell. Don't warn the disobedient, just love
them. So we don't preach the fear of God ..."
(John Gipson, "Let's Preach Fear").

The Bible says, "The fear of the Lord is the
beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom
and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7). Dear reader, are
you scared (2 Corinthians 5:11)?

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