Archive for the ‘Fear’ Category

Fear God, not Calvin and Luther!

May 10, 2011

Mr. Matthew Bellisario has posted a short blog item titled: “Luther, Calvin, Hitler, Stalin and Mao.” He selects as his text Matthew 10:28 which states:

Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Mr. Bellisario has overlooked the fact that there is a shift from plural to singular. The command to “fear him” is a reference to fearing God. It is God who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Thus, when faced with persecution, we ought not to fear our persecutors, but rather we ought to fear God.

Perhaps Mr. Bellisario should read Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea, where he would find the following attributed to Chrysostom (I haven’t confirmed that it is authentic, but let it suffice for Mr. Bellisario that his hero Thomas Aquinas approved of it): “Observe how He sets them above all others, encouraging them to set at nought cares, reproaches, perils, yea even the most terrible of all things, death itself, in comparison of the fear of God.”

– TurretinFan

The Fear of God

February 11, 2009

Today I happened to walk into a chatroom that was on the relation of Christianity and the Church. There were a number of points raised by those leading the discussion, including issues connected to the fact that churches often act with the primary goal of promoting themselves or lining the coffers. There was also talk about the use of manipulation based on telling people that they are guilty in God’s eyes.

There was a measure of reasonableness in some of the criticisms, but then it really started to go south. One of the people started railing against God with various epithets, and declaring – in essence – that the people weren’t interested in a God who hates the wicked. A theme kept getting repeated about God (they said) wouldn’t want people to fear him, quoting something about “perfect love casts out fear” (from John’s catholic epistle).

It occurred to me that this wasn’t really the whole counsel of God (simply taking that part of one verse in isolation), so I brought up the following verse:

Psalm 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

I provided it to the room, and got back a mocking response that I had quoted a Psalm from a dead religion. I probably ought to have immediately identified the spirit of the room as opposed to God, but I thought that perhaps this was some sort of dispensational room, where people view (quite incorrectly) the Psalms as outdated and connected with Judaism.

So, I proceeded to provide a verse from the New Testament:

Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

But the leaders of the room kept on claiming that any “fear of God” was a terrible idea. Suddenly it dawned on me – and I posted:

Romans 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

This got a stronger reaction – the leaders of the group silenced my nick and complained to the effect that it was not appropriate to quote Bible verses to people who aren’t interested in them. I clarified that they really weren’t interested in the Bible, and – before they kicked me out – asked what sort of person despises the Word of God.

I was truly amazed at how openly vile and anti-Scripture the group was. The hatred for God’s word was without shame. They were only afraid to be called to task for it. They didn’t mind quoting the “warm fuzzy” verses of the Bible, but if any verse was presented that didn’t line up with their theology, it was just dismissed.

Probably I’m just too sheltered – but the pure evil of a religion that despises God’s word so openly was absolutely shocking to me. I feel so sorry for those folks – it is the “reprobate mind” of Romans 1 written large. But they are not seared in their conscience as to be able to completely ignore the Scriptures. The felt the need to mock and revile them – and to mock me for bringing them up. I’ve seen the latter from atheists – but a group of people would call themselves “Christians” while attacking the church and the Scriptures left me near speechless.

Please don’t be like those folks I encountered today. Be a God-fearer:

Psalm 66:16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

Ecclesiastes 8:12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:


Reverencing One’s Husband

April 12, 2008

I came across this interesting post from a woman explaining to younger woman some considerations for a mate, and for those already married some suggestions for improvement. (link) It seems mostly correct, and so I commend it for reading, with a couple of quibbles and comments.

The verse in question is:

Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

But is cited as:

“Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

I would take issue with the reduction from reverence to respect. The Greek word at issue is
φοβέω, which is the cognate and root of our English word “fear.”

It’s so translated in many places in Scripture, for example:

Revelation 19:5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.

It goes beyond simply respecting. Reverence is a great translation here, and its disappointing to see many modern translations using “respect” in place of reverence.

That’s my first quibble, and my second is like unto it. My second quibble is that reverencing/respecting is more about the woman than the man. With those quibbles in mind, I’d recommend reading the article (for unmarried women) as though the article was an explanation of ways to make your responsibility of reverencing your future husband easier. I would certainly agree that it would be wise in a society like the modern one, for women to consider whether their potential mate is someone who they could easily reverence, or whether the task will be a very difficult one. (In a more partriarchical society, that consideration should be undertaken by the father.) Part of that consideration is the woman’s own ability to reverence her father. A girl may be able to identify certain characteristics about her father that make it easy or difficult to reverence him. She can then use that to her advantage in considering potential suitors. If it takes brains to gain her reverence, then she should be looking for a man with brains – if strength, strength – if Scriptural understanding, knowledge of God’s word, and so forth.

Hopefully young men will read this too, and profit from it. Young men often want and need to marry. It would be wise for young men to seek ways to be a reverence-able mate. It’s a big challenge, because young men are often foolish, headstrong, and unaware of their weaknesses. Here’s the advice: find ways to make it easy for your future bride to reverence you.

This leads me to the intuitive portion of the post. The intuitive portion is this: the easiest husband for a woman to reverence ought to be the one who is most capable of loving her as himself. Contrariwise, the easiest woman for a man to love as himself is the one who most reverence’s him. In other words, men and women are complementary.

It is the same between us and Christ. His extreme love of us should inspire from us the greatest possible reverence. It will also inspire love, certainly, but the command to us is:

Psalm 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

which also applies to the authority relationships in which we find ourselves (whether husband and wife or master and servant ):

Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

Finally a word of caution:

1 Peter 3:6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

The point here is that there is no virtue in obeying one’s husband and reverencing him if that reverence is from terror/fright (πτόησιν). In other words, it is not as though a woman should reverence her husband in a servile manner, like a whipped dog, but in a dignified manner flowing from a loving desire to give the honor that is due the position (not the man who occupies it).

May God give each us grace in our respective roles in life,


P.S. If a woman has been providentially given a husband who makes reverence very difficult, this command can be as difficult as it can be for a husband to love a shrewish wife as himself. The purpose of this post is not to condemn but to exhort: no wife is completely reverential, and no husband is completely self-sacrificing.

Thanks to Patrick Chan for pointing me to this post.

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