The Christian’s fear of God

June 5, 2009

Living a life of obedience to God is directly related to living a life of fearing God (Deut 6:2, Eccles 12:13, Neh.5:9, Prov 23:17).  Piper further comments on this in his book, Future Grace, on pg. 35:

And even these expressions about fearing the Lord are probably the flip side of trusting the Lord’s future grace.  In other words, “fear the Lord” means “fear the terrible insult it would be to God if you do not trust his gracious promises of power and wisdom on your behalf.”  That’s probably why Psalm 115:11 says, “You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.”  In other words, if fear is not mingled with trust it will not be pleasing to the Lord.  “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Hebrews 11:6).  The obedience that comes from fearing God without faith in his future grace will not be free, but servile.

After highlighting the examples of trust and fear resulting from David’s song (Ps 40:3) and the belief and fear that resulted from the Israelites witnessing God’s power against the Egyptians (Exod 14:31), Piper closes with these thoughts:

Fear and faith happen together in response to God’s mighty power and his promise of future grace.  To fear the Lord is to tremble at the awareness of what a terrible insult it is to a holy God if we do not have faith in his future grace after all the signs and wonders he has performed to win our obedient trust.  It’s this faith in future grace that channels the power of God into obedience (pg. 36).

Suppose God promised you these following things:

     Mercy (Lk 1:50)
     Favor (Ps 147:11)
     Blessing (Ps 115:13)
     Compassion (Ps 103:13)
     Salvation (Ps 85:9)
     Lovingkindness (Ps 103:11)
     Inheritance (Ps 61:5)
     Angelic protection (Ps 34:7)
     Goodness (Ps 31:19)
     Watch-care (Ps 33:18)
     Fulfillment of your desires (Ps 145:19)

    Do you want them?  All of these are promised for the one who fears God.  The point is simple and straightforward.  If you refuse to fear God, then you are refusing the multitude of promises that God has made to you, promises that are meant to drive you closer and closer to Him, rather than the opposite.

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    What I want to be true about me!

    June 4, 2009

    Flipping through the pages of my first paperback friend, I found this section of writing from John Piper’s Future Grace boxed:

    Henry Boardman wrote [about Charles Hodge], “Christ was not only the ground of his hope, but the acknowledged sovereign of his intellect, the soul of his theology, the unfailing spring of his joy, the one all-pervading, all-glorifying theme and end of his life.” (pg. 199)

    What glorious words!  Next to this I wrote: “What I want to be [true] about me!”  Yes, my soul still echoes the same wish that I did two years ago when my eyes first fell upon such wondrous words.


    A relationship, not rules?

    June 4, 2009

    I asked myself a question just now.  Am I holier today than I was last year because someone told me “Love God more” or because someone told me “You’re sinning by ____.  You ought to ____”?  Without thinking for longer than a second, I instantly knew that the answer was the latter.  There are concrete areas and sins that I encountered this year.  There are definite methods and disciplines that I reacted with in order to pursue holiness.

    Abstract realities like “loving God more” fail when you don’t take the next step.  Even Christ told us that those who love Him, obey Him.  Very simple question: How do you obey Christ?  How might someone tell you to obey Christ?  It is with concrete verses, actions, thoughts, and words.  It is “Do ___.  Don’t do ___.”  It is listening to and applying the “Four ways to ___.”  It is not simply thinking to yourself, “I ought to love God more.”  Why?  Because you are not loving God more by not taking pains to discipline yourself for the point of godliness.

    It is like building a house.  Who lays down a foundation for his house and then stops construction?   Who simply looks at the foundation and says, “What a great foundation this is.  I bet my house will be very nice.”  Do you think that your house will be amazing?  No.  If you do not build your house on top of your foundation, then you will have no house.  No matter how great your foundation is.  No matter whether your foundation is a solid rock or sand.

    An interesting note: remember the builders at the end of Matthew 7?  One thing that both of them did is that they built their house.  No, that’s not the focus of the passage at all, but the point remains.  They built!  They did not look at the solid rock or the sand and say, “What a lovely foundation.  I love it.  I will love it more.”

    I end this note with a warning.  Have I said that the foundation is not important?  By no means.  In fact, the foundation is the most important thing.  The foundation is the difference between the two builders of Matthew 7.  However, having a foundation without a building is useless.

    So, check your foundation.  Are you building based on your foundation?  Are you building at all?  Or are you restricting yourself from taking any action towards holiness because you deceive yourself?  Do not think: “I’m in a relationship with Christ.  There shouldn’t be rules.  I just have to love God more.”  Brother, loving God more is following rules!  But it is not only rules.  It is following rules because you are in a relationship with Christ.  That is what you must remember.

    Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)


    Prayer

    May 10, 2009

    The one thing I regret from this year is not praying for my small group guys as much as I could or should have.  If I truly understood that God has the power to instantly change their hearts such that His truth becomes their heart-knowledge, then why did I not fall on my knees more?  It is like knowing that Superman is right next to you and not calling on him to help save a bus from falling off the ledge of a cliff.  It is foolishness.


    “The Minister As Shepherd”

    April 13, 2009

    Reading this book by Charles Jefferson has been so refreshing to my soul and encouraging to my ministry.  It is almost as if Jefferson labored to find the right words to use as to resonate with the feelings of a minister.  After reading a paragraph, I almost always sigh the deepest amen.  I copy here one of the most truthfully written paragraphs (pp. 136-137), divided into sections for your reading ease, that my heart agrees with:

    The grace of humility is watered and unfolded by the shepherd’s toil … The crowds do not applaud [the shepherd, in contrast to the preacher]…

    The shepherd, working with individuals, faces failure again and again.  As a guide he is rejected; his counsel is despised.  As a physician he is baffled; the diseases of the soul will not yield.  As a savior he is defeated; he cannot bring back a sheep that is lost.  There is always a joy in his heart over what he achieves, but there is also always a heaviness because of what he fails to do.  “Sorrowing, yet always rejoicing”–this is a fit description of a shepherd’s life … He knows the power of sin and realizes that there is no help for the world this side of God.  His experience in fighting evil face to face brings him into the dust.

    Moreover, his work is never done … After he has done a thousand things, he can think of a thousand other things still to do.  After he has done his best, he feels like confessing himself an unprofitable servant.  The shepherd’s work is never done.


    Law of liberty

    March 23, 2009

    These two concepts seem so contradicting.  Yet, we as God’s children ought to understand the two sides of this same coin, lest we preach the one and deny the other.

    But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.  But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
                                                                                                                                                              – James 1:22-25

     

    For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.”  Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.  For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
                                                                                                                                                                – James 2:11-13


    Discernment in Publication

    March 7, 2009

    A close brother of mine commented on my blog about how I approached the topics of what I wrote.  He pointed out my reasoning behind how I wrote, showing how they fell short of Biblical principles.  This made me realize that the heart behind some of my posts was not the edification of the brethren (We should sincerely evaluate whether each post IS, in fact, edifying, not giving some wishy-washy reasoning of how it is edifying), but actually complaining for the sake of selfish pride.  It’s quite unfortunate that even when a gem of truth can be spoken, a heart of pride can be evident.  Thanks, Ming.

    This morning in our SGL Mtg, Justin addressed this very issue – discernment in technology.  He pointed at facebook, blogs, myspace, and even emails as venues where we think Christian conduct is not demanded of us.  Everything that we place on the Internet is kept for a long time, most likely up to the point of Judgment, if the Internet is affected at that time (Who knows?  It’s a possibility.).

    For that reason, my previously proclaimed purpose of blogging isn’t so wise.  Is there any reason why I should make the effort to not qualify what I say when my words can easily be taken out of context?  If that takes a long time, then should I really blog about it?  There are plenty more resources out there such that I do not need to think that the world is dependent on my theological blurbs.  I should strive to ensure that the miscommunication of God’s truth through my blogs is of the lowest possiblity.  If something I say can be used against me in the future, then it wouldn’t be above reproach.

    Since I am unsure whether I have been the most discerning in my posts in the past, these have now been made private.  If I have time, then I’ll go through them and filter through them, but that’s not now.  Perhaps this is the reason as to why blogs of the layman these days aren’t as headstrong and controversial as those of the renown theologians.  Well, should God’s grace and my diligence allow, one day I might have a blog like that.