‘Twas Grace That Taught My Heart To WHAT?

Fearing God fell out of fashion decades ago, and I’d venture to guess that it’s not going to make a comeback among most evangelicals. Popular wisdom (if you can really call it wisdom) says that we should come to Christ out of love,  not out of fear.

But I praise God for allowing me to feel afraid of eternity in hell for two weeks in January of 1971. It was a miserable two weeks, most assuredly, and I wouldn’t want to repeat them. But the Lord graciously gave me that dreadful period of fear as a preparation for hearing that Jesus died for my sins.  The grace of fearing God enabled me to experience the grace of receiving His mercy.

Verse 2 of Amazing Grace reminds me of that horrible two weeks and that wonderful day when He opened my heart to the Gospel. Indeed, it was grace that taught my heart to fear, and precious grace relieved those fears!

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Who Gives Us Permission To Edit God’s Word?

Edited Bible 02

Yesterday I wrote an article using Scripture to substantiate the doctrine of hell. As painful as it is to think about people going to hell, we cannot dismiss the Bible’s many warnings about it simply because they offend our sensibilities. More broadly, we cannot interpret Scripture through the grid of human philosophies.

As we discuss hell, women preaching, Charismatic teaching or any other topic of debate, we need to look to the Word of God as the arbiter of truth. Not to C.S. Lewis or John Calvin. Not to sermons or YouTube videos. Not even to blog posts on The Outspoken TULIP. These resources may or may not be helpful if they point us to Scripture, but we must be careful not to let them have equal authority to God’s Word.

Furthermore, we must never allow ourselves to edit God’s Word to suit Continue reading

Fearing The God I Love

Jacksonville 1955

Mom and me in Jacksonville, Florida ~~ 1955

Have you read through Proverbs lately? Throughout the book, Solomon writes about various benefits of fearing God. For instance, he writes:

26 In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
    and his children will have a refuge.
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
    that one may turn away from the snares of death. ~~Proverbs 14:26-27 (ESV)

Sadly, 21st Century evangelicals have difficulty accepting the idea of fearing God, preferring to emphasize Continue reading

Repentance On Our Terms — A Mockery Of God

Fear of God

While we must never reduce Old Testament narratives to allegories that we can read ourselves into, these historical accounts instruct us in our own walks with the Lord (see 1 Corinthians 10:6). In reading the book of Numbers, then,  we can learn principles from Israel’s journey to the Promised Land without fancying that we are on a parallel journey.

Sunday I read several chapters of Numbers, going through familiar stories that I’d read many times. Part of my reading covered Chapters 13 and 14, in which Moses records the scouting expedition into Canaan. As God had told them, they found the Land brimming with choice fruits, milk and honey. It was wonderful!

But they also Continue reading

Starting Discernment Out Right

463ca-ladies2bstudy2b01Although I taught children’s Sunday School for several years,  I can’t recall once teaching the basic Bible lessons that I heard as a child (in a liberal denomination, at that). “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Evangelicals generally have an aversion to teaching children to fear the Lord. Frankly,  we don’t even teach it to ourselves. Yet the Bible explicitly states:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. ~~Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)

That standard Sunday School verse taught in the 1950s shouldn’t be downplayed, explained away or outright ignored the way it is in our postmodern evangelical culture. Perhaps a main reason that we now equate discernment strictly with polemics comes from our hesitancy to embrace the idea of fearing God.

Yet both the Old and New Testaments contain several verses urging people to fear God. Holy fear doesn’t require feeling terrorized by Him, nor does it negate His love for us. At the same time, His love for us doesn’t negate our proper response of approaching Him with an acute awareness of His holiness and our sinfulness. The apostle Paul told us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:13).

I loved my mother. Until my late teens, I pretty much thought she could do no wrong. But when I misbehaved at school, the absolute worst punishment my teacher could inflict was telling Mom what I’d done. She never treated me harshly, but that initial look of anger and disappointment always shook me to my core. Loving her compelled me to fear her.

Loving God, then, should compel Christians to fear disappointing Him. The fear of the Lord actually encourages us to love Him by keeping His commandments (John 15:10). Rather than avoiding  talk of fearing God, we should cultivate holy fear and let it teach us to live in ways that please, honor and glorify Him.

The fear of the Lord leads us to the wisdom that helps us discern His will from the pages of Scripture. Fearing Him, as an aspect of loving Him, develops discernment in our day-to-day lives.

If we desire to be women of discernment, we must begin by developing a healthy fear of the Lord. Maybe our churches and Sunday Schools need to return to teaching this basic principle.

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Fear Might Be The Wisest Response

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I want to continue looking at the relationship between discernment and wisdom by examining Scriptures about wisdom. Naturally, my mind immediately goes to two familiar verses in Proverbs:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction. ~~Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. ~~Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)

To many people — including evangelicals, I’m sorry to say — the fear of the Lord seems terribly outdated. To make verses like Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 easier to swallow, we assure young Christians that the fear referred to here means nothing more than Continue reading