In the writing of our newest resource, The 180º Project, (which has run into some delays) we recently received permission from the Judaism website, chabad.org to use an article of theirs to illustrate a point. Getting this cooperation has helped in the writing of the book and, I believe, enhanced it in many ways. Their helpfulness was refreshing and graciously given. Their website is a fountain of information of Jewish practice and values and is a great resource for those wishing to explore the religious mindset of modern Jews.
Allowing this article to be used by Ta Ethne was a generous gesture. We thank them for their kindness and encourage our readers to check out their site. You will learn about customs, practices, history and how faith intersects life for many Jewish people today. It has been a rare experience for us to find the blend of knowledge, wisdom and humbleness as they have extended to us. Again, thank you very much chabad.org!
This month (March) will see Ta Ethne making several Kindle editions of our books free for downloads. Each of the next three weekends will see at least one of our books for free. Included this month are Is Jesus Enough? (both the original edition and the expanded edition w/study guide), The Quest: Changing a Church’s Culture from Missions-minded to Missions-active and A Heart Hungry to Worship.
We are doing this to celebrate the release of Is Jesus Enough? Expanded edition with Study Guide in paperback form. You can download the Kindle version free March 22-23. Check out the great new cover design:
Proverbs 1:7 states that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (knowledge)”. In almost all discussions in church classes about this verse it becomes clear that people have been taught that the word fear means “reverential respect.” I beg to disagree. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell”. If the people being addressed were believers, it might be appropriate to use the reverential respect meaning. For an unbeliever, a fear (terror) of a holy God who judges righteously would be the beginning of wisdom. If a person has no fear of ultimate judgment, why would they contemplate salvation? If hell is not a real option, a consequence of not allowing Jesus to be the Lord of one’s life, why worry about an afterlife? The Bible uses the word fear (with reference to God) over 300 times. In quite the majority of those uses, fear means “to be terrified.” The lack of fearing God (according to Romans 3:18) is one of mankind’s chief sins.
For believers, we are told in 1 John 4:18 that “perfect love casts out fear.” How many of us love perfectly? And if fear is just reverential respect, why would perfect love cast it out? William Eisenhower wrote an article for Christianity Today about fearing God. One sentence of his article stands out: “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.” We are to fear God’s holiness. We get to experience His mercy and grace. I can go boldly into His presence and obtain mercy from Him, not punishment because of my relationship with His Son. I never presume upon it, though. There are times when He withholds complete mercy. Moses is not allowed into the Promised Land. Ananais and Sapphira are struck dead. So is Uzziah. Believers in Corinth also are put in the grave early. Some mercy is still granted – their soul’s security is still guaranteed. Grace is given in that they did not deserve to enter into His presence. I promise you, though, the early church and the Israelites in the desert feared God with more than reverential respect.
It could be that in many churches our people have lost the fear of serving a holy God and that is why the church looks and feels just like the world. It could be the reason so many churches are powerless and have lost their witness. Without a wholesome fear of God, people will not repent of their sins, and repentance is necessary for the remission of sin. I fear God. I don’t serve Him out of fear, I do it out of gratitude for the salvation He has wrought in my heart, but I also fear Him. He is a God who expects holiness and who has high standards of conduct for His people. He also provides His Spirit to direct and guide and empower us to accomplish His will in His way. I believe that we need to teach that it is proper to fear a God who can destroy both body and soul in hell. It will wake up a lost and dying world and keep those awake from presumptuous sins.