Why should Christians be afraid?

Are you afraid of Judgment Day?

Growing up, I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t have, in the back of my mind at least, a fear that TODAY was going to be Judgment Day. There were other days when I’d get very frightened that “This is IT!” when I’d hear thunder, see a red moon, hear a cart rumbling down a hallway, or even a horn blowing unexpectedly.

This is because I was brought up in an environment of fear and judgment. I was many times convinced to go to the “altar” and pray to be saved (not a biblical concept at all). The problem was, I was never taught what real faith, trust and hope were. I don’t believe I ever “got” salvation as a child, because I was doing my praying and begging out of fear, not out of an appreciation for Jesus’ sacrifice or a thankfulness for God’s grace and mercy. Rather, I was taught that I either repented or when I died (which could be any minute!) I would find myself falling into “the bottomless pit” where black fire and demons would torture me forever and ever and ever. Nowhere in scripture do we find any indication that demons or imps will torture the lost or that souls will be cast into a bottomless pit!!

What I did not realize at the time was that these folk fit the description Paul made concerning his fellow Jews who would not believe the gospel:
“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 10:1-3 ESV)

So, as a kid, I was mentally and spiritually abused. I thank God, however, that after 30 years of being away from this religious teaching, I finally was able to read the bible with a fairly unbiased and unrestricted view. I just wanted to see what it really said. I am so glad that God makes it plain that ALL men and women are corrupted by our fallen nature. Only a true and loving God would allow us to see what hardheaded and ignorant men the disciples were until they witnessed Jesus resurrection and ascension. Then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, who cleared up all their misconceptions about Christ and His mission, they changed the entire world! And they were still not perfect!

The scriptures tell us a healthy fear of God is good and wise. Many do not even think about God until they experience a life-threatening situation, and by then, for many, it’s too late. But, the fear we should have is more a sense of awe and wonder; how small and unworthy we are as specks on this huge earth, which itself really is not even a speck in the enormity of the universe.

1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Why should Christians not fear? Because we are “free from the law of sin and death”. Jesus was “made sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” That’s what the legalistic and perfectionist types neglect to tell us from God’s Word. The other extreme are those who say we can sin all we want and not worry about it. Both are viewing God’s grace and salvation through the lens of the flesh; one focuses on every little sin and the other no sin at all.

My favorite verses these days are:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 ESV) and

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4 ESV) and

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27 ESV)

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by indywatchman on January 10, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Glad to see you are back. I was wondering if something was keeping you away from writing. But, never mind,you’re back.

    I agree that Christians need not fear the world or anything that the world can do to them. The absolute conviction, devotion, and trust in the Lord of Heaven makes courageous even the weakling, to walk boldly in faith and bring down Satan’s gates and set free his prisoners. Christians who fear the world do not yet believe with all their heart, mind, and strength.

    But, there is another fear, which you call awe and wonder. I will not argue your point because you are in good company and a case can be made. But there is another fear, that goes beyond awe, and rightly provokes a severe respect for the most potent of the potentates. Even Nehemiah trembled before King Artaxerxes when he thought that his actions may be out of order. Likewise, I think that we too should have this fear that continually oversees our attitudes and motives, and checks our flesh when we waver.

    Fear is an essential devise that warns us when danger is present, and there is nothing so dangerous than angering Almighty God.

    Blessings Brother,

    Steve Blackwell
    http://www.IndyWatchman.com

  2. Clearly there are two categories of “fear”–one to be done, the other to be done away with. We are told that the “fear of God” is the beginning of wisdom. That’s the reverential awe Watchman refers to. The other is the visceral, selfish stuff which we are told to avoid. “Fear not” Jesus says. Obviously, God is not contradicting Himself, but referring to two distinctly different “fears” Sometimes English is not the best language for clarity in expression.

    PK, one thing about the disciples–you write: “hardheaded and ignorant men the disciples were until they witnessed Jesus resurrection” To pick a nit, it was NOT that they “witnessed” the resurrection but the resurrection itself which brought about the transformation. This is the “power of His resurrection” Paul refers to. I love to preach on the wondrous transformation of those selfish men, comparing their actions and attitudes from one side of the Cross to the other side.

  3. Gentlemen and brothers,

    I agree with you both, that there are two kinds of fear that are appropriate in connection with God and we believers. Since my focus was on unreasonable and legalistic fear, I didn’t really address the “right” kind of fear. I’m afraid that just as there is too much man-made fear in the legalistic camp, there is not enough fear in the church as a rule. My intent was to show how wrong it is to make people feel they have to be saved, or even can be saved, based on fear alone as a motivation or cause in itself.

    And, Ed, I meant to say that the disciples were witnesses to the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead, not that they actually observed the Resurrection when it happened. Good catch!

  4. Posted by indywatchman on January 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for the clarification Steve.

    And, it is nice to see you speaking again.

    Steve Blackwell

  5. PK,

    Great post!

    For the Christian, the last judgement for righeousness sake, has already been held…at the cross…and at his/her baptism.

    The Bible passages you cited are perfect!

    Either He did everything for us on that cross, or He did nothing at all. If there was just one little thing left for us to DO…then that cross was in vain.

    Thanks be to God that the cross was not in vain.

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