Ours is a day much like that of the Judges, "e;Every man did what was right in his own eyes"e; (Judges 17:6; 21:25). Our churches are marked by irreverence, immorality and hypocrisy. This problem arises from a lack of the fear of God. When Christians are ignorant of the fear of God, they fail to live their lives Coram Deo, aware of the presence of God to whom they must give an answer (2 Cor. 5:10). Awareness that one lives life in the presence of God led Paul to conclude, "e;Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences"e; (2 Cor. 5:11).
Much confusion exists today, however, with respect to the fear of God. Some look on it as a mark of Old Testament piety, which is foreign to the New Testament. This concept flies in the face of too many New Testament references: (Luke 12:5; Heb. 12:28; Rev. 14:7; 15:4; 1 Pet. 1:17) to list a few. Others find the
doctrine greatly confusing. After all, the apostle Paul, who claims to be motivated by the fear of God, contrasts the spirit of adoption with "e;the spirit of slavery leading to fear again"e; (Rom. 8:15). And the apostle John says "e;There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment and the one who fears is not perfected in love"e; (1 John 4:18).
The problem, of course, is definitions. We have pretty good ideas about the meaning of faith and love but what is the fear of God and how does it relate to concepts like faith and love? Our fuzzy thinking concerning the concept of the fear of God is not because of any lack of clarity in the Bible but because of the paucity of teaching on the topic. How many sermons have you heard on the doctrine of the fear of God? If your experience is like mine, very few. If you are a preacher, how often do you deal with this truth in your sermons?
When Arnold Frank was exposed to a series of sermons by Albert Martin on the fear of God, he was motivated to study what the Bible had to say on this truth. That study led him to the Puritans and those who have ministered in their tradition, because the Puritans understood the centrality of this doctrine for bold, godly living. This book is the fruit of that study.
Dr. Frank, in nine very readable chapters, defines the different types of fear, teaches the proper fear of God and relates it to God-centered worship. He concludes with instruction on how to preach the fear of God to the lost and how to preach the fear of God to the believer. His study of Scripture is richly seasoned by the insights from the Puritans. (Just look at the bibliography!)
I cannot commend this book too highly. Preachers need to study it in order to be better equipped to preach this grand truth. Serious Christians should read it in order to grow in their love and fear of God.
—Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
The Fear of God
Nordskog Publishing, Incorporated
A Forgotten Doctrine
Mind, Body & Spirit /