Tag Archives: The Fear of the Lord

“God requires the heart” by Richard Sibbes

“God requires the heart; and religion is most in managing and tuning the affections, for they are the wind that carries the soul to every duty. A man is like the dead sea without affections. Religion is most in them.

The devil hath brain enough, he knows enough, more than any of us all. But then he hates God. He hath no love to God, nor no fear of God, but only a slavish fear. He hath not this reverential fear, childlike fear.

Therefore let us make it good that we are the servants of God, especially by our affections, and chiefly by this of fear, which is put for all the worship of God.”

–Richard Sibbes, “The Spiritual Favourite at the Throne of Grace,” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 6, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 97.

[HT: Justin Perdue]

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“Our hope lies in His mercy” by Martin Luther

“Paul describes this faith in most significant words, namely, when we cry Abba! Father! For in the spirit of fear it is not possible to cry, for we can scarcely open our mouth or mumble. But faith expands the heart, the emotions, and the voice, but fear tightens up all these things and restricts them, as our own experience amply testifies.

Fear does not say Abba, but rather it hates and flees from the Father as from an enemy and mutters against Him as a tyrant. For those people who are in the spirit of fear and not in the spirit of adoption do not taste how sweet the Lord is (cf. Ps. 34:8; 1 Peter 2:3), but rather He appears to them as harsh and hard, and in their heart they call Him a virtual tyrant, although with their mouth they call Him Father, just as that slave in the Gospel who when he had hidden his master’s money said to him: ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, etc.’ (Matt. 25:24).

Such are the people who are displeased that God accepts no man’s merits but has free mercy. Thus they say: ‘Thou has commanded the impossible, Thou hast not given grace but only knowledge; this I still have, and I give it back to you.’

Rather they ought to rejoice because He has not put our hope in ourselves but only in Himself, in His mercy. All who are of this mind are secretly saying in their hearts: ‘God acts in a tyrannical manner, He is not a Father, but an enemy,’ which is also true.

But they do not know that one must agree with this enemy and that thus, and only thus, He becomes a friend and a Father. For He will not come around to our way of thinking and be changed for us, so that we may become His friends and sons.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works: Lectures on Romans, Volume 25 (St. Louis: Concordia, 1972), 358-359. Luther is commenting on Romans 8:15-16.

[HT: Mark Dever]

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“A holy regard of God” by Charles Spurgeon

“Free, full, sovereign pardon is in the hand of the great King. It is His prerogative to forgive, and He delights to exercise it.

Because His nature is mercy, and because He has provided a sacrifice for sin, therefore forgiveness is with Him for all that come to Him confessing their sins.

The power of pardon is permanently resident with God. He has forgiveness ready to His hand at this instant. ‘But there is forgiveness with Thee that Thou mayest be feared.’ This is the fruitful root of piety.

None fear the Lord like those who have experienced His forgiving love. Gratitude for pardon produces far more fear and reverence of God than all the dread which is inspired by punishment.

If the Lord were to execute justice upon all, there would be none left to fear Him. If all were under apprehension of His deserved wrath, despair would harden them against fearing Him.

It is grace which leads the way to a holy regard of God, and a fear of grieving Him.”

–Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David: A Commentary on the Psalms, 3 Vol. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1988), 3:119.

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“His forgiveness is holy” by Ed Welch

“No doubt you have wronged other people in your life and they have forgiven you. That is certainly an expression of the grace of God. But don’t use the experience of human forgiveness to understand the forgiveness of God. Remember: we have been enemies of God. We still find the seeds of rebellion in our hearts everyday; we didn’t even seek God and beg His forgiveness, yet He is pleased to forgive.

One common feature of all world religions, except for the religion revealed in the Old and New Testaments, is that the gods demand some kind of human penance when they are wronged. Human beings must pay the gods back by giving more money, adhering to proper rituals, going through some form of self-punishment, or practicing some means of works righteousness.

When religions are shaped by the way people treat one another, such a system is unavoidable. The psalmist knows this. He knows that all other gods keep records of who has been naughty and who has been nice. But God is holy, and his forgiveness is holy. Nothing can compare to it. As a result the psalmist says, ‘If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared’ (Ps. 130:3-4).

Do you ever think that your sins are too bad, and that forgiveness for those sins requires you to get your act together first? If so, you don’t fear God. You are minimizing his forgiveness. You are acting as though his forgiveness is ordinary, just like that of any person or make-believe god. In contrast, the fear of the Lord leads us to believe that when God makes promises too good to be true, they are indeed true.”

–Ed Welch, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2007), 194-5.

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