“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.”
Most importantly, “the one who has the Son has life.” (1 John 5:12) Secondly, “this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.” (1 John 5:14-15)
Fear is incompatible with love — if we are loved by God, what have we to fear?
“We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true One. We are in the true One — that is, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
Fear is incompatible with eternal life — if we are “in the true One”, what have we to fear?
“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies.” (Romans 8:31-33)
Fear is incompatible with the justification of God — if God has given us His Son, what have we to fear?
Remember dot-to-dot puzzles? Remember tracing a line from one numbered dot to the next numbered dot in an effort to complete a picture, usually a picture of a puppy or a clown or an umbrella?
God is not a dot-to-dot puzzle who is revealed as you trace a line from one dot to the next. God is untraceable. “For who knows the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid?” (Romans 11: 34 – 35)
Job thinks he knows God, but he is surprised by God. He realizes that he does not know God, that what he believes about God is only a shadow, a rumor of the reality of God.
Today many people appear to know God, claiming they hear His voice, they know His thoughts, they state His truths. But, “how unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways” writes Paul — a man who encounters the Christ on the road to Damascus.
Remember, “God imprisons all in disobedience, so that He may have mercy on all.” (Romans 11: 32) Who fully comprehends this? Who is able to say they have have “the wisdom and the knowledge of God?” Who understands that God punishes all wickedness, yet forgives the wicked? Who understands that God does not abide sin, yet welcomes home the sinner? Who understands how it is that “mercy triumphs over judgment?” (James 2: 13) For God says, “For whoever keeps the entire law, but falls in one point, is ‘guilty of breaking it all’.” (James 2: 10)
God is not a dot-to-dot puzzle to be revealed by tracing over a predetermined yet unseen line. God is a great mystery. He is the good news. He is our savior, healer, sanctifier, and king. Let us rejoice in our salvation — let us be glad Jesus loves us.
The cross appears a foolish means of restoring humankind’s relationship with God. Perhaps even to some there is no relationship with God to be restored, or there is no God at all. Still, if God exists and loves us, why is the cross necessary?
Heard it before, haven’t you? That God hates sin so much He has to punish it. He doesn’t want to punish us, so He punishes Himself in the form of His Son. Sounds downright bizarre to the intellectual.
I’ve always found it odd that anyone can say to another, “It isn’t head knowledge that saves you; it’s a relationship.” Who would believe, strictly by intellectual means, that God is like how He has been described over the years since Jesus’ death and resurrection? Our power to explain God is so weak, so inadequate, so pathetic that I can’t imagine anyone believing it intellectually unless the Holy Spirit has done His work in the heart of the one who hears the explanation.
How does someone who has not been prepared by God Himself come to believe in a God who is love and wrath simultaneously, a God who destroys nations while building up a selected nation, Israel? How does someone trust a God who expects total obedience, and destroys anyone who does not obey completely? How does someone — someone like Job — come to be absolutely grateful to a God who destroys everything he has? How do we understand God unless God has touched us first?
I maintain we can’t.
For God’s ways are not ours ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55: 8)
“Praise God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.” (Ephesians 1: 2 – 5)
God demands that we stop sinning. We are not to deliberately go on sinning, choosing to do that which we know is against His will. The author of Hebrews warns us that our punishment will be worse than the punishment of those who “set aside the law of Moses” who “died without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” The witnesses against us, God’s people, are Jesus, the new Covenant, and the Spirit of grace. If we spurn Jesus, who is the Son of God; if we profane the blood of the new Covenant; if we outrage the Spirit, then we will discover that indeed “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
The Israelites wander around in the desert for forty years because of their grumbling and disobedience. God continues to feed them His Manna, but He frustrates their plans and prevents them from entering His Sabbath rest. These persons must continue to wander, essentially in circles, with fear, trembling, distrust, self-loathing, and anger. Many die.
“For who are those who hear and yet rebel? Is it not all those who leave Egypt led by Moses? And with whom is He provoked for forty years? Is it not with those who sin, whose bodies fall in the wilderness? And to whom does He swear that they will not enter His rest, but to those who are disobedient? So we see that they are unable to enter because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3: 16 – 19)
Therefore, today when you hear God’s voice, when He calls you — obey. For it is indeed a fearful thing to fall into the hands of our living God.