As mentioned in the last issue, our church finished a 6-week series on the various aspects of fear examining it in the light of Scripture. What we went through were primarily 3 aspects of fear which were:
1 – Fear of man
2 – Being afraid of God (unhealthy fear)
3 – Fear of God (Healthy fear that relates to respecting and honoring God).
Last issue we dealt with the fear of man. This issue, we’ll look at being afraid of God in an unhealthy way. So what do we mean by being afraid of God in an unhealthy way? One of the saddest things is to see people who are literally afraid or scared of God. To them, God is not kind and loving. In their minds, He is a harsh taskmaster who will cause them to live a life of strict “do’s-and-don’ts”and will send us to Hell if we do the slightest thing wrong. There are some religious systems and sadly, some very “legalistic” Christians that teach people that God is wrathful and is looking to “zap” you any time that He thinks that you are stepping out of line.
So I want to make something very clear; God is a good God. Yes, He is also a God of Judgment and this cannot be denied. But His heart is more for people to be restored to Him so that we can get to know Him and learn to fellowship with Him throughout all eternity. The reason why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ into the world was so that people would not perish. We all know the Scripture:
John 3:16 – NIV – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God SO loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. Jesus came, revealed to us who the Father really was, died for our sins, shedding His precious blood as the Lamb of God, being hung on the cross, but was raised from the dead, forever making a way for sinful mankind to fellowship with God. And all who turn and trust in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. And while Jesus was on the earth, as was spoken earlier, He revealed the true heart of God. How? Here’s what the Scripture says:
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 – NKJV – Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
God the Father was in Christ making an appeal to His creation to return to Him. The Amplified Classic says that “…It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but canceling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor).” How amazing is that!
Scripture really shows the heart of God when it comes to His thoughts and feelings toward humanity.
2 Peter 3:9 – NIV – The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
God gets no pleasure out of anyone perishing without Christ. Even in the Old Testament, He never enjoyed seeing people perish without Him in their lives.
Ezekiel 33:11 – NLT – As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?
God is a good God who is kind even to those who are unthankful and evil (Luke 6:35). But again, this is not to say that He is not a God of Judgment. He is. But there are some groups that concentrate only on His wrath and judgment, never letting people know that God is also good, kind and loving. When people hear nothing but things concerning God’s wrath, it makes them fearful to approach Him and gives them a very distorted view of who He really is. Here’s what the Word says:
Romans 2:4 – NKJV – Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
People need to see that God’s heart toward them is not for their destruction, but restoration and get the revelation that though He is a God of judgment, He is also the God of restitution whose heart yearns for people to fellowship with Him. Jesus has made a way for us to confidently approach God the Father without fear IF we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior and have had a “born-again” experience. Here’s what the Scripture says:
Hebrews 4:16 – NLT – So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Hebrews 10:22 – NLT – let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Next issue, we’ll talk about what it means to have a healthy, biblical fear of the Lord. God Bless!