Whom Shall I Fear

 

Fear defined: A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger: Extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power. Fear may be rational or not. That may help explain why the Bible exhorts us to fear and also not to fear. It is not irrational to fear danger and pain, Jesus feared going to the cross but He did not fear dying. Sometimes we fear outcomes but the outcomes are not inevitable. We can determine the outcome. Consider the following scriptures.

*   (Luke 12:1-5 NIV)  Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. {2} There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. {3} What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. {4} "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. {5} But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

We see two different fears with two different outcomes. But what should we say about this verse?

*   (1 John 4:18-21 NIV)  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. {19} We love because he first loved us. {20} If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. {21} And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 5:1-5 NIV)  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. {2} This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. {3} This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, {4} for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. {5} Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Clearly the word, “Fear” has different applications depending upon context. Here is another application.

*   (Acts 5:9-11 NIV)  Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." {10} At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. {11} Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Was it the same fear we just saw in the last passage that was manifest in the next passage?

*   (Acts 9:31 NIV)  Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

 

Perhaps the next two passages will give us a clue to understanding fear.

 

*   (Rom 8:15 NIV)  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."

*   (2 Cor 5:10-11 NIV)  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. {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.

Fear may lead us into danger, irrational, or out of danger, rational. So if we choose well who or what we will fear and determine how we will respond to fear then we can expect good outcomes. But good outcomes are not necessarily realized immediately. And there is the problem! We all too often are short sighted. All too often we lack the faith to endure difficulties that are in the present and therefore lose the prize that is in the future. And here is an odd thing to consider. If the fear of God delivers us from all evil then what do we have to fear? Only the pains and distress of this evil age. And are they really too difficult?

*   (Rom 8:16-18 NIV)  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. {17} Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. {18} I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Paul admonished believers to work out their salvation "with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). The early church grew in number as they lived "in the fear of the Lord" (Acts 9:31). The fear of God is related to the love of God. The New Testament church stands in awe and fear in the presence of a holy God. (Mat 22:37 NIV)  Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

 

I agree with Paul and wish the Lord would return today.

*   (2 Cor 5:8-11 NIV)  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. {9} So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. {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. {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.

But in the mean time let us persevere and fear God as it says in …

*   (Eccl 12:13-14 NIV)  Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. {14} For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.