Pastor Dan Borgelt
“Good job Debbie… but I got to say though [the song], it’s a little upbeat for a series on fear… do you know anything that’s a little scarier than that… like the Halloween theme song or Jason or something along those lines? (laughter).
Let me ask you… what is your earliest memory of being afraid? Surely we were we were afraid and experienced fear before we can remember being afraid… but let me just ask, when was your earliest memory of being afraid?
I know mine… I think I was like five years old, I’m not sure exactly, but I know I was living in our house up in Ann Arbor Michigan, and I had two older sisters. And parents, you know how it is… like, you’re kind of super cautious with your oldest kid, and then you get a little more lenient with the next kid, and each kid that comes you just start exposing to them to stuff sooner because you know part of is because your other kids are watching these things.
I had two older sisters, and I don’t think they were old enough to be watching the Halloween movies, but we were watching them, with Mike Meyers in our living room.
And there I was five years old or so and I was sitting just feet away from the T.V. by myself on a little blanket with apples and peanut butter watching this Halloween movie and my sisters were in the dark back in the back of the living room on the sofa.
And I remember the first time that I saw Mike Myers. What happened was this person gets out of the car and there’s this kind of ominous sort of scene the camera pans over and you see this guy in this white mask and he’s you know clearly after this person.
And I saw Mike Myers, and I threw my apples and peanut butter as high as I could up towards the ceiling. My mom claims I put peanut butter on the ceiling. I don’t know, but I through these apples and peanut butter up and I turned around and I ran to my sister’s and I kind of like dove into the couch seeking some sort of refuge around them.
I know it’s not a very flattering story of me but it happened.
Needless to say, I spent many years in my childhood, often sleeping with one of my two older sisters because I was afraid at night. In fact somewhere along the line I got the idea that I was safer sleeping in the hallway than in my bedroom. So I would grab my pillow and blanket and put it out in the hallway and sleep out there. That’s not safer, by the way, but nonetheless I did that.
Fear is sort of kind of all around us. We’re obsessed around Halloween time, and scaring ourselves by going to haunted houses and scary movies year round all the time.
I mean only in a upside down society such as ours that has lost its way would we spend millions of dollars making ourselves afraid, and then millions of dollars dealing with fears and anxiety in life.
But we do both of those things in our culture.
And so fear is all over, but good news for us, fear is also all over the Bible as well. The topic, the word ‘fear’ is all over the Bible… all kinds of hits when you search for the word fear in the Bible.
There are two types of passages in the Bible on the subject of “fear” and they seem to be at conflict with one another:
1) On one hand when you look up the word fear in the Bible it’s saying things we want the Bible to say like, “Don’t be afraid”, “Do not fear”. All this seems encouraging to us.
2) But then there’s this whole other category of fear in the Bible repeatedly telling us things like, “Fear the Lord”, “Fear God”, and it seems like how do those two go together.
We’re going to talking about that dichotomy to kick off our series. In fact for this first week we’re going to be looking at this idea of…
FAITH OVER FEAR, NOT FEAR OF FAITH.
Thinking about these two types of fear that show up in the Bible, our BIG IDEA is “Faith in the Lord…” we don’t want to forget faith in this process, we can’t just skip to fear of the Lord. How do we get to a place where we have a fear of the Lord?
Faith in the Lord leads to a fear of him that drives out our fear of the world.
The two types of fear in the Bible:
1) Fear of the Lord,
2) Fear of the world (the Bible repeatedly says not to have).
And I’m suggesting that they really kind of go together in a way that allows us to come to the conclusion that,
“As our fear of the Lord increases and grows, our fear for what the world has to offer begins to decline and diminish.“
The idea of the fear of the Lord is where we’re going to start this morning, and it’s obviously just an expression… like maybe some of you are hearing it for the very first time, or you’ve heard it for years, either way most people when they hear the expression ‘fear of the Lord’ are kind of dumbfounded by it, like,
“Wait a second, why would the Bible teach that we should fear the Lord? … I mean aren’t they claiming that God is loving and kind and compassionate? Why would you fear someone like that?”
So let’s first talk about what we think the Bible means when it says, fearing the Lord.
R.C. Sproul wrote and commented on 16th Century theologian Martin Luther‘s work on this subject, and he says this:
“Luther distinguished between ‘that'” ... now the ‘that’ is the type of fear that most of us think of when we think of fear–the fear that comes from feeling like someone’s going to hurt you or harm you. He uses the example like, ‘torture’ or ‘punishment’… and he says,
“Martin Luther distinguishes between ‘that’ type of fear and what he calls “filial fear”, the reason I can’t pronounce it well is because it’s drawing from the Latin concept, from which we get the idea of ‘family’.
It refers to the fear that a child has for his father. In this regard Luther’s thinking of a child who has tremendous respect and love for his father or mother, and who dearly wants to please them. He has a fear of an anxiety of offending the one he loves,”
Listen to this…
“… not because he’s afraid of torture or even punishment but rather because he’s afraid of displeasing the one who is, in that child’s world, the source of security and love.”
So what I’m suggesting the Bible is getting after, is that we get to a place where, as children of God, He becomes our source of security and love; and in that way we fear him in the sense that we want to please him like a child wants to please a parent.
In fact anywhere in the Bible where you see the idea of fearing the Lord you get this idea… you see the connection of a child following their father or mother’s instruction.
In Psalm 34:11-14 the Scripture teaches us this, it says,
Come, my children, listen to me [you see the parallel already of what Luther said about ‘the fear if the Lord].
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
So you see this connection between a childlike relationship with The Heavenly Father being pursued here in the ‘fear of the Lord’. And he’s saying that the fear of the Lord is not just something that we can proclaim or declare, but rather, whether we fear the Lord or not, is actually shown in evidence by whether we obey the Lord or not.
There’s a connection. What it means to fear the Lord is, to obey the Lord.
So we can’t go around saying, “I fear the Lord, I fear the Lord,” while we’re living in rebellion against Him. Our lives prove us to be people then who don’t actually fear the Lord.
The Scripture teaches us that if we truly feared the Lord in the way that the Bible is moving us to, there would be a sense of obedience–a desire to please God with our lives like a child desires to please their mother or father in a healthy relationship.
The Book of Proverbs begins, in fact the whole book of Proverbs, this book on wisdom in practical advice on how we live our life by telling us in the seventh verse,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
So again you can see in relationship to the fear of the Lord, the connection between a child and parent relationship–the idea is that we are supposed to receive God’s knowledge, his wisdom, and his instruction, not to reject it.
If we reject his knowledge his wisdom and instruction, we prove ourselves to be people who don’t actually fear the Lord.
In a similar manner in Psalm 112:1 the Scripture tells us this,
Praise the Lord.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
who find great delight in his commands.
Again, there’s a connection between fearing the Lord and being obedient in our walk with him… because as a child wants to please their parent we want to please our Heavenly Father.
In Psalm 103:17 we see something similar as well; it says.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children.
Again, this idea of fearing the Lord, and he’s with us, His love is with us, and His righteousness or his right living is passed on then to even our children’s children from generation to generation, there is this connection of fearing the Lord like a child has a right relationship with their earthly father or mother.
But here’s the problem…
There’re so many people in the church who have such a hard time grasping the proper Biblical understanding of fearing the Lord because they didn’t have a healthy relationship with their earthly father or mother.
You see parents… are you embracing the challenge here… that if we become the type of parents who are so quick to discipline, and our discipline is so severe, eventually we run the risk of dominating any sense of a child wanting to do right in order to please us. Then the only motivation they can think of is to do right is to ‘avoid the punishment’.
And for some of us that’s what our childhood looked like.
For some of you, your mother or your father was so quick to punish you and the punishment was so severe, that you have a hard time relating to the idea of trying to please a parent just because you love them… and not to avoid punishment.
But that’s the biblical understanding of fearing the Lord, and if you grew up that way you might unintentionally, for years perhaps, been imposing that on God, like your relationship with him is just a relationship where you’re motivated to somehow do that which is right so that you don’t get punished by God — that’s the fear of the Lord in your eyes.
But that’s not the biblical understanding of the fear of the Lord, which was to move us past that to a place where we desire to please him, not to avoid punishment. Christ Jesus has taken all of the punishment on the cross, but we desire to please him out of our love for him and acknowledgment of his love for us.
Now there is another type of fear that exists out there in the Bible, another way to FEAR THE LORD. There is the fear of the Lord that exists in the Bible that many people sort of think of., and in Hebrews Chapter ten we see it.
I’d love to just avoid it, love to pretend it’s not there, but it’s there, so we’d be wrong to ignore it. Of course what we want to ask ourselves from the outset is, “If there is one type of fear of the Lord–fearing the Lord like a child fears a parent in a healthy relationship, and then this type of fear of the Lord, how do choose which one we have with God?
Here’s this other type of fear of the Lord that is in the traditional punishment sense. In Hebrew 10:29-30 the Scripture tells us this,
“How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, [in other words, you reject Jesus, Hebrews 10 applies to you.]
I want to be clear from the outset: you accept Jesus Christ and embrace God’s plan of salvation for you, then you can enter into a relationship with God like a child has a loving relationship with their parent and have that type of fear of the Lord.
But if you reject Jesus, you want to throw Jesus under the bus, you going to trample him underfoot, if you will, then this is the type of fear of the Lord that the Bible reserves for people who reject Christ.
“the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them,
In other words, ‘Hey, Jesus’ blood being shed for you means nothing to you–it’s not that big of a deal?’
“and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
And so we see in Hebrews ten there is a sense of fear of the Lord in the classic sense as well. There’s a fear of the Lord that says, “Hey, for those people who reject Jesus, “it’s a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God”.
It’s First John chapter four that lays out clearly for us an understanding of how we can make sure we avoid the latter sense of judgment, or fear of God where we’re all focused on his judgment, and rather move into the camp where we, like his children, want to please him… not out of fear or punishment.
1 John 4:16-18
16-18 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. For God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
You see our word Jesus right there… everything hinges on him.
If you want to fear the Lord, in the biblical sense of of having a fear of him like a loving child fears their loving parent, then Jesus is the one that makes that happen.
When we reject Jesus then we get shifted to Hebrews ten if we will… we become in a relationship with God where we’re enemies of his, and we fear him as if we fear the day of judgment and punishment. [00:15:21]
So here’s just a little summary of what I think the Bible has to say about fearing the Lord–that is there are two different ways to fear the Lord:
1) We can either fear him like a child fears their loving parents, or,
2) We can fear him because the Day of Judgment is coming.
And the first trumps the second… it’s the better, if it exists it nullifies the second; and it is accessed only by faith in Jesus.
– – – – – – –
Now I know some of you are like, “Well wait a second… can’t everyone, can’t every single person out there fear God like a loving child fears their parent? Because isn’t God like a loving parent over all of humanity? Aren’t we all his children?
That’s one of those things you hear in church all the time. People teach people that in church. But the problem is the Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible doesn’t teach that every single person out there is a child of God.
The Bible teaches that we are born on the wrong side of a relationship with God because of our sin. We are born as enemies of God, and it’s only when we accept Jesus Christ and what he’s done for us on the Cross that we are then spiritually adopted into the family of God and we become children of God.
Not every single person out there is a child of God.
Every single person out there is created by God, yes, but not until we enter into a relationship with Jesus do we become “Children of God”. And that’s why through faith in Jesus Christ we can begin to have the appropriate fear of the Lord that is the fear of being his children and wanting to please Him with our lives.
And that’s why we’re saying to you this morning as our big idea, that it’s faith… faith in Jesus Christ, faith in the Lord that leads to a fear of him, that drives out our fear of the world.
And that’s what we want to move to and talk about next… this idea of driving out our fear of the world.
So many of us are living in constant fear of many different sorts and types, and we want to see biblically how does our fear of the Lord help us to drive out our fear of what the world has to offer?
And we should clarify as we move into that, and that is that all other fear… there’s the fear of the Lord, but we’re saying, ‘all the other fear apart from the fear of the Lord… and maybe even the fear of the Lord as well… I wasn’t capable of theologically grasping whether or not we are supposed to fear the Lord even in heaven.
But I’m going to say safely for now…
…all other fear, apart from the fear of the Lord, is the result of sin.
All other fear apart from the fear of the Lord is the result of sin, and most of the time that fear comes from the devil… most of the time.
But sometimes it comes from God.
What do I mean by that? [00:18:29]
Sometimes when we’re afraid, it’s not the devil who’s causing us to be afraid, sometimes God, functioning through the Holy Spirit in this fallen, broken world, speaks to his people a message, if you will, or a feeling of fear that is designed to help them. So it can be God who says,
“Hey, stupid… stop walking down that dark alley, turn around, come back!”
That’s a feeling of fear. Sometimes God in His compassion says things to us like, “Hey get out of there… don’t be around those people… get away from this situation… don’t try that stunt… whatever it might be. Sometimes it’s the Holy Spirit who infuses a sense of fear in us.
And of course when that’s the case, that’s not the fear we’re trying to drive out by the fear of the Lord, but we are acknowledging that most of the time, when we experience fear in this life,
1) it’s from the devil, and
2) our fear of the Lord should be driving that fear out.
Here’s what the Scripture tells us in Psalm 115:11
You who fear him, trust in the Lord—
So he’s connecting our two points: that idea of fearing in the Lord, and having that fear drive out the fear of the world.
he is their help and shield.
What a wonderful source of encouragement to think about the idea that God, if we fear him, becomes our help and shield.
What should we fear? Why would we fear anything if God is actually our help and shield.
Well if that doesn’t drive out the fear that the world has to offer you, then nothing else will.
In Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
The Lord as my light and my salvation allows him to rule out the idea that he should be afraid of anyone else.
But notice the genuine authenticity of the Psalmist’s conviction about who God is in their life–the psalm of David… the idea that David believed in God as being his light and his salvation.
We cannot manufacture that. We can’t say,
“All right, I’m really afraid right now… God you’re my light and my salvation, drive out my fear.”
If he’s not already your light and your salvation you can’t invoke those words somehow and make that become the case in order to drive out fear. It has to be real and authentic in our life.
Is God our LIFE and our SALVATION?
And if so, then like David we realize there’s no one else we should ever have to possibly fear.
In Psalm 34:4-7 the Scripture tells us this,
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all of my fears.”
What a cool expression, “all of my fears.”
You should get on the internet someday and look at all the things people can be afraid of–all the phobias… I’m sure there’s a fear of “coming to church”.
There’s probably a fear for about everything we do:
– for shaking each other’s hands in public;
– for singing out loud (I have that fear a little bit);
– a fear from eating Panera Bread bagels off a public table;
– a fear of using a public restroom, etc.
The only fear that probably doesn’t exist is the fear of leaving church on Sunday morning, but nonetheless all kinds of fears… he delivered me from all my fears.
5-6 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man…
Let’s take comfort from the fact that no matter who you are, it’s not like this is a wonderful promise that God will help you out if you meet a certain standard...
6-7 This poor man called,
and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 [Hear this]The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
What a cool picture that is… [00:22:29]
Our family bought a Golden Retriever about a year ago. His name is his Dobby, and we did not buy him for protection purposes. You don’t buy a golden retriever for protection purposes, especially this one. He doesn’t bark, he refuses the bark.
At least our last golden retriever didn’t bark if someone walked in the home. But if a robber knocks for some reason he would bark 🙂
This dog won’t bark no matter what. He doesn’t bark at all and if you do walk in the house he’s just going to love on you.
But people buy other breeds for protection. We might say, “They’ve got a Rottweiler, or a Doberman Pinscher, or German Shepherd, or something that’s like, “I’m never going to that house”… and you get a sense of security from having the right dog.
Other people like our family get alarm systems for that. Some of you get a gun, and then you get a second gun, and maybe a third gun, you know, for close range and long range and you’ve got guns for every situation of a burglar coming into your house.
And we feel good about these things… and I’m not saying that we ought not to take any of these basics steps of safety, but what I am saying is how silly it is when we find our immediate and greatest sense of trust and confidence in these things that we put in place, when the Scripture says that if we fear the Lord he will encamp all around us.
Those things pale in comparison to being someone who walks with the peace of knowing God is protecting them.
So what does allowing our fear of God to drive out our fear of what the world has to offer, what does it look like?
I want to just invite you on this little walk with me… and just from our childhood all the way on up through the whole life cycle, and just imagine what would it look like to really allow the fear of the Lord to drive out the fear of what the world has to offer.
Starting with us as a kid imagining our childhood–whatever that memory is you thought of earlier… this idea of what first scared you… think about a kid being scared at night… how wonderful would it be if our children knew that as soon as they experienced a sense of fear they went to God in prayer about that.
When I was a kid and I was going through what I told you earlier, I didn’t know about Jesus, I didn’t know about God; it wasn’t even remotely on my mind to go to him and to pray, but isn’t that what we want for our children.
Or when our children have to listen to the parents’ fighting and getting angry or sitting them down and telling them that their marriage has come to an end and they’re getting divorced, and all the fear and anxiety that a child has to deal with, wouldn’t be precious and wonderful to think that that child has a place to go to say “I’m going to allow my fear of the Lord to go to Him in prayer to drive out my fear of this situation”.
And we think about junior high. Junior high has tons of fears doesn’t it, so much insecurity and anxiety wrapped up in junior high. My biggest one was when I walked into the cafeteria, was I going to have anyone to sit with, was going to open up their their table to me.
And what a neat thing it would have been if I would have had the maturity, the fear of the Lord, to stop in the hallway before I ever walked into that cafeteria, and pray to God about that situation, allowing him to drive out the fear that the world had to offer in that circumstance.
When in our teens, when we went into high school and we began to go to parties for the first time, and we were offered to drink things and smoke things and do things with boyfriends and girlfriends that caused some anxiety and fear and all this type of emotional rustling around, would have been wonderful to think about the idea that we would have the maturity to stop and to pray and to allow our fear of the Lord to drive out the fear of that situation.
When we move into college, and we’re done with two years of general education and we now finally have to formally declare a major and there’s all this fear about what am I going to do for the rest of my life?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were the type of people who stopped and paused and allowed our fear of the Lord, and desire to please him in that way, to drive out our fear of that circumstance.
When it became time to having our first child. And the fear of what was going to happen physically, or were we going to be able to provide, How were we going to parent, and all the fear that comes from having and bringing your first child into the world.
What a wonderful thing it would be to be able to sit and to pray and to think about the fear of the Lord driving out our fear of the world in that moment.
When our kid some day is scared at night… before we launch into turning lights on and opening closets and talking to them rationally about what is and what isn’t under their bed, wouldn’t it be neat if we were the type of parents that had this sense of the fear of the Lord that we sat beside them put our arm around them and prayed with them inviting the fear of the Lord to drive out the fear of the world.
When we get old enough in life to realize and admit finally that we have a fear of flying, that we have a fear of driving on the highway, wouldn’t it be nice to think that we’ve gotten to a place in our life where we go to the Lord with that and we allow our fear of the Lord to drive out our fear of the world.
As we grow in Christian relationship and in relationship with the church and someone starts telling us about things like discipleship, and tithing, and volunteering, and leading a small group, and inviting us to go on a mission’s trip… and we meet all of those things with fear and anxiety, wouldn’t it be neat to get to a place where we take all of that to the Lord and the allow him to drive out our fear.
When our teenager drives for the first time… when we drop them off at college… and all of the fear that comes with those experiences… wouldn’t it be neat if we could take all that emotion and allow the fear of the Lord to drive out our fear of even those circumstances.
When a spouse says, after the kids are all gone to college, and your house has been empty for years, that they don’t think they can live with you anymore. Wouldn’t it be neat to be at a place in your relationship with God, where you went to him, and allowed your fear of him to drive out your fear of even that circumstance.
And when a doctor says to your spouse that they have months to live, and the fear grips them and it grips you… wouldn’t it be neat someday to be at a place in your relationship with God where you allow the fear of the Lord to drive out the fear of even that circumstance.
A great place to be… to get to a place in our relationship with God, Where no matter what circumstance comes in and causes us fear, we take that and run with it and bring it, out of our fear of the Lord, to him.
There is though, a better and even higher level of Christian maturity to be attained on this subject. David, I believe King David achieved it. In his famous psalm, Psalm twenty-three I think he expresses it.
He gets not just to a place where when he feels afraid, he gives that to God, but I think he gets to a place where because of his relationship and fear of the Lord, things that happen in his life that would otherwise cause many fear, don’t even cause him fear at all.
In Psalm 23:1-4 it says,
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You can see King David got to a place in his relationship with God where, how neat is this, to not just feel fear and take it to God, which would be a great thing for many of us to get to that point, but to just walk around with the knowledge that his rod and staff are comforting and protecting him… that he’s constantly encamped, if you will, by God who is the sovereign one... so that when something happens in his life that would otherwise cause us fear… doesn’t even cause him fear at all… he’s already ready for it; he’s already there in dealing with the moment, by not even experiencing the same fear and anxiety that others would because he’s so tight in walking with the Lord… what a wonderful place that would be.
So church, as we continue in this series this week we still talking ‘big picture” in the macro looking at a comprehensive list of Scriptures. The next couple weeks were in a kind of move into the micro and look at a couple narrative passages in your Bible where you can see how God is inviting his people to act at times, in ways that they would normally be afraid, and he’s causing them to act and trust in him regardless.
And there’re other times in the Bible, and we’re going to look at these as well the following week… where you see that society, and we are living in a changing culture and society, is asking God’s people to live a certain way, and they’re not supposed to do something, and to not do it they’re going to have to have faith over fear.
So whether God calls you to do something that invites you to be afraid, or whether society calls you to do something and not doing it invites you to be afraid, the next two weeks are are going to speak to those circumstances.
Heavenly Father, as always we thank you for this passage of Scripture. We begin by just bringing to you in prayer this idea of fearing you. And Father we acknowledge before you that many of us may have a poor understanding of what it means to fear you.
We’ve feared you in a way strictly from a sense of punishment, and if that’s the case, one, we ask for your forgiveness for that, but two we pray that you would through your Spirit give us a great sense of confidence in our standing in relationship through Jesus Christ, that we would change our understanding of what it means to fear you.
And many of us who who maybe even fear you the right way biblically have not seen that overflow into driving out the fear of the world.
We can even tell you, with some honesty, that we’re ashamed at times of the things that we’re afraid of. Or what unfaithful people we can be, an untrusting people we can be.
As we prepare for the next couple weeks ahead, Lord we pray that you would be doing a work in our lives in bringing us to a place of maturity that no matter what you call us to do, our answer will always be ‘yes’ regardless of how difficult it might seem.
Or no matter what the society around us asks us to do that we know you would have us not… that we would always be faithful even in those times because of our faith in you.
And we ask these things now in Christ’s name. Amen.
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