I have been studying and teaching Bible doctrine for over 48 years and the shepherding teacher for home based Churches. Sola Scriptura
Fear is a Prison
The Natural Man
Every human since Adam has been born with the knowledge of the eternal. Ecclesiastes 3:11 “... he has set the world [owlam – eternity] in their hearts.” This knowledge leads to the natural fear of death, for everyone knows, whether they want to admit it or not, there is more to life than the ‘here and now.’ Many will attempt to harden their own hearts against this fear by pursuing religions, including those within the realm of Christendom, that fit their lifestyle or how they perceive God in their own minds. The rest of the world seeks that which satisfies their lost souls: fame, fortune, and power are pursued by the minority of the carnal while the majority seeks science, education, work, family, and the like: many with a token religious affiliation for convenience or traditions sake.
The Word teaches us that the natural man has no desire for God, for thoughts of him just interfere with their supposed peace of mind. [Romans 3:10-12; Psalms 14:1-3] All the while, many of their fellow travelers of life encourage one another to follow their hearts’ desires but as Jeremiah 17:9 teaches “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, WHO can know it?’ Jesus also made a very terse statement concerning the condition of mankind’s hearts in Mark 7:21-23.
Though all men have been born with the fact that there is an eternity to be experienced no matter how hard one tries to suppress it; all men since Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden, have been born spiritually dead. The instant Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he died on the spot … spiritually. His natural love of God from the beginning was replaced with fear as they hid themselves from God’s presence, as if that were even possible. The vast majority of the world still hide themselves from God and attempt to extend their lives as long as possible to avoid the inevitable.
Religion Cannot Cure the Fear of Death
A few churches rely upon hellfire preaching to scare people into either believing in God for their salvation or to keep the parishioners in line with the program. The majority though, follow the tactic of God being a god of love alone to allay their fears. Both tactics have a result in increased attendance, though the crowds do differ in personality. The common thread between the two, is the fear of death. It also places the responsibility upon the shoulders of the individuals as to what direction they choose: hellfire or lovey-dovey. God is only mentioned to give credence to their doctrines, but Truth is in neither.
When the burden for one’s salvation is placed upon an individual’s shoulders, they will always take the path of their preconceived mindset about God or the path of least resistance, sought by most. God in reality does not need to be a part of the equation, but it is merely ‘name-dropping’ to validate the individual congregation’s doctrine of salvation. Many churches preach that Jesus is the only way to the Father, but omit the scriptures [John 6:44, 65] that it is the Father that draws whom he chooses to Jesus. Those who fear death will listen to most anyone that will give them a solution to their problem. They in turn will ‘religiously’ follow the dictates of the leadership who are in the very same boat … fearing death.
The Fear of God is From God Alone
Quickened from the Dead – Ephesians 2:1
Most have heard the phrase – the fear of God many times, but as Francis de Sales cited: “We must fear God out of love, not love Him out of fear.” I also appreciate what Oswald Chambers wrote: “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” Today, most church congregations around the world are filled with the fearful; fear of losing their salvation, fear of punishment for lack of perfection and fear that they do not do enough to please an angry God. One obvious trait of the fearful is the lack of love for God’s Word in its entirety, depending solely upon those scriptures that do not interfere with their comfort zone. These also rely heavily upon those teaching what they want to hear: a little conviction is permissible, but the preacher must tread carefully, or they are out the door seeking greener pastures.
Being that the Bible teaches that we are all born dead spiritually, it makes sense that an individual must be quickened, made alive or in other words, resurrected from the dead. When was the last time you heard of someone resurrecting themselves from the dead? Resurrection is exactly what occurs at the time of one’s salvation, yet many churches have a set of standards and rules one must adhere to before salvation is complete in their puny little minds. They literally have replaced the work of God alone concerning one’s salvation with procedures, rules, and rites. They adapt scripture to fit their doctrine and hold all those under their sway to said doctrines. They care not that the Word [Ephesians 2:8] teaches that by grace, one is given the gift of faith to believe without any procedures, rules, or rites. Ephesians 2:9 adds the clause “not of works.” What do we see and hear … a lot of boasting coming from within Christendom of their ability to save souls, when, in reality, they have saved NONE. They mock the power of God to save whom He chooses, when He chooses, and how He chooses.
God alone replaces the fear of death with the fear of offending a holy God, this only occurs in one who has been given a new Spirit, having their heart of stone being replaced by one of flesh. [Ezekiel 36:26] When the fear of death is supplanted by the fear of God Almighty; a heart-felt cry for mercy comes from the depths of our quickened souls. As the publican in Luke 18:13 was justified immediately when he cried out for mercy; we likewise receive a peace that the world cannot fathom. The born-again now fear offending the God of their salvation more than physical death, for we know that our death in this world opens the door to Paradise and the presence of our Savior forever.
The tell-tale sign that one is in dire need of the fear of God, is their over abiding fear of death. May the Lord bless the reader.