Fear­ing God is a good thing

The Covington News - - Religion -

What are you afraid of to­day? Is it a proper fear?

I find within the ranks of Chris­ten­dom to­day an in­creas­ing fear of the wrong things. I was lis­ten­ing to an in­ter­view with one of the cur­rent can­di­dates for pres­i­dent of the United States, and the in­di­vid­ual was talk­ing about his be­lief in God, in Christ and in the Bi­ble. So far, so good. Then the in­ter­viewer asked the can­di­date, “ Do you be­lieve Christ is the only way to Heaven.” Im­me­di­ately the per­son re­sponded, “ I don’t go that far.”

What hap­pened? The an­swers to that point were what we would call “ spot on.” But then, his re­sponse to the tough ques­tion re­vealed a fear of the wrong things.

This can­di­date feared what peo­ple might think.

It might cost him votes to de­clare that he be­lieves that his pro­fessed leader was right when he claimed to be the one and only way to Heaven ( See John 14: 6).

The Bi­ble warns, “ Be­ing afraid of peo­ple can get you into trou­ble, but if you trust the Lord, you will be safe” ( Proverbs 29: 25, NCV).

Look again at the verse that heads this ar­ti­cle, “ Rulers per­se­cute me with­out cause, but my heart trem­bles at your word.” That is a proper fear.

The psalmist wasn’t afraid of even the most pow­er­ful of men, men who could and would take his life given the chance.

He knew the truth that Solomon ex­pressed when he penned, “ 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. For God will bring ev­ery deed into judg­ment, in­clud­ing ev­ery hid­den thing, whether it is good or evil” ( Ec­cle­si­astes 12: 13- 14, NIV).

There are many flesh and blood ex­am­ples of such brav­ery. Per­haps the one who amazes me most at this point is the great re­former Martin Luther.

It’s one thing to take a stand against un­godly rulers or peo­ple who make no pro­fes­sion of faith in Christ. We see that as noble.

But Martin Luther stood against the whole of Chris­ten­dom in his day. He stood op­posed to the rulers who used God’s name to jus­tify their own ac­tions.

Hear his words as he con­cludes his de­fense against rulers he knows will take his life should he not re­cant what he has preached and writ­ten.

“ Un­less I am con­victed by Scrip­ture and plain rea­son — I do not ac­cept the author­ity of the popes and coun­cils, for they have con­tra­dicted each other — my con­science is cap­tive to the word of God. I can­not and I will not re­cant any­thing, for to go against con­science is nei­ther right nor safe. God help me. Amen. Here I stand, I can­not do oth­er­wise” ( Martin Luther, Coun­cil of Worms, Bain­ton, Roland, “ Here I Stand,” Abing­don Books, Nashville, TN 1950 p. 144).

Movies of course show Luther stand­ing in ab­so­lute de­fi­ance of his in­quisi­tors and shout­ing th­ese words. His­to­ri­ans tell us that he stood in hum­ble fear and ut­tered that last phrase in a barely au­di­ble voice. He knew what it meant. He knew he was sign­ing his death war­rant. Yet his fear of be­ing un­faith­ful to the re­vealed will of God strength­ened him to stand against popes and coun­cils ( and author­ity doesn’t get any higher than that) and stand true to God’s word.

Oh, that the church to­day would re­cap­ture such a Godly fear…

John Pear­rell


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