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   Studies in Contrasts - Volume 1 (1 of 13)

Volume 1

  1. Should a Christian Be Afraid of God?
  2. The Resurrection: A Matter of Reason or a Matter of Faith?
  3. Can We Learn from the Cults?
  4. Should We Be Waiting or Working As We Anticipate Christ's Return?
  5. Did Christ Come to Live or to Die for Us?
  6. Is Man Like God or Unlike God?
  7. Should a Christian Be Self-Controlled or Spirit-Controlled?
  8. Isn't the Holy Spirit All I Need to Understand the Bible?
  9. Can We Come to God Just As We Are?
  10. Is It Ever Right to Judge Others?
  11. Are We the Result of Our Parents' Choices?
  12. Does God Hold Us Responsible for Other People's Sin?
  13. Self-Esteem: Is It Right or Wrong?

Should a Christian Be Afraid of God?

The Puritans believed in being afraid of God. When they read the Bible, they believed it gave them reason to fear their Maker. Many people today, however, react negatively to that idea and substitute the word "reverence" for "fear." They say, "Since God loves us as a father loves his children, to be afraid of Him would insult Him. When the Bible speaks of fearing God, it must mean something other than fear as we know it."

The concept of fearing God is not a matter of either we do or we don't. The Bible tells us to fear Him, and it tells us not to fear Him.


  1. People in the Bible who caught a vision of God in His holy splendor reacted with fear. They either hid their faces, cried out in terror, or fell down before the Lord (Exod. 3:2-6; 1 Kings 19:13; Isa. 6:5; Ezek. 1:26-2:2, Rev. 1:17).
  2. God approves of the person who trembles at His Word (Isa. 66:2).
  3. We are to work out our salvation with "fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).
  4. God may deal severely with a sinning Christian, sometimes even taking that person's life (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 11:27; Heb. 12:3-11).
  5. If we are careless in our walk as Christians, we will "suffer loss" and be "ashamed" when we meet the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 3:11-17; 2 Cor. 5:9-11; 1 John 2:28).


  1. When God appeared to His people, He quickly quieted their fears and told them not to be afraid (Exod. 3:7-10; 20:18-21; 1 Sam. 12:20; Ezek. 2:1,2; Rev. 1:17).
  2. The psalmist depicted God as a father who loves His children deeply (Psalm 103:13).
  3. In Hebrews 4:16 we are invited to "come boldly to the throne of grace" (see Heb. 10:19-22).
  4. Jesus assured us that we who believe in Him need not be afraid of meeting God because we "shall not come into judgment" (John 5:24).


While we should tremble at the thought of who God is, we should not be afraid of what God wants for us. We should not and need not be afraid of God when we come to Him on His terms. But we should always be afraid of resisting or rebelling against Him.


Those who are uncomfortable with the idea that God should literally be feared often point to the fact that 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear," and that 1 John 4:18 says, ". . . perfect love casts out fear." In 2 Timothy 1:7, however, Paul is not referring to a fear of the Lord. The context makes clear that he is writing about a fear of men. Furthermore, in 1 John 4:18, "perfect" love is simply mature love. John was saying, "When we are walking with God in mature love, we don't have to be afraid of His punishment or correction." Furthermore, a right understanding of the fear of the Lord will drive us to the Lord rather than away from Him. It is also important to keep in mind that while "the fear of the Lord" is often described as "reverence," this distinction is rarely found in the actual words of the original languages. In most cases, the word used for terror and dread is the same word used for "the fear" of the Lord.

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