Fear and the Goodness of God

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Fear (terror) compels people to do all kinds of things. History has proven this to be true at all levels of human experience, from personal interactions to community concerns to international conflicts.

Concerning salvation, many Christians confess that the fear (terror) of God’s wrath resting on unrepentant sinners (John 3:18-21, 36) is what initiated their faith in Jesus.[1]

There is another sense of fear that also plays a role in the Christian’s faith. The Bible teaches, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7, NKJV). This kind of fear (awe, reverence) comes from some measure of recognition of how truly great, mighty, and awesome God is and how small, puny, and powerless we are in contrast to Him.

But when it comes to salvation, God isn’t just interested in handing out “fire insurance” or “keep out of hell” cards. God doesn’t save us to set us on a pedestal. God desires changed hearts producing changed lives, lives that increasingly become transformed to reflect the the righteousness of the Son.

This kind of change is not produced by fear, but by the goodness of God. As Romans 2:4 says, “the goodness of God leads you to repentance.” Thus, the Lord invites us, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”

Consider an example from Jesus. It was not the fear (terror) of death that drove the prodigal home. His fear caused him to reflect on his life choices and remember his father’s house. It was the goodness of his father that convinced him that he might find some small portion of sustenance after squandering his resources and exhausting his options (Luke 15:11-32).

Thus, in facing the fear (terror) of death apart from God, we learn the fear (awe, reverence) of the Lord, which draws us to the Son. And when we come to the Son by grace through faith (Eph 2:8), we find we need no longer fear death and the grave because God’s wrath no longer abides on us. What we find is good Father who welcomes us with open arms.

[1] R.C. Sproul relaying the testimony of some of his congregants for their reasons for believing in Jesus https://youtu.be/fcOzTZUOBn0?t=293.

San Diego Holiday Half 2019

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Tomorrow morning, Lord willing, I will run my first half marathon race. Last winter I wasn’t quite ready for the distance and this year has been a very rough whirlwind of events. But the Lord is faithful. I’m excited for this next milestone in the journey of healthful living that the Lord started me on a little over two-and-a-half years ago, on February 27th, 2016. As long as the Lord keeps me healthy, I know I can go the distance. But my two hour goal is going to be a bit of a challenge.

This race is also very special for me because one of the reasons I run is for my family. I signed up for this race back in August knowing my goal time would be to hours. But I didn’t know then how meaningful those two hours will be for me. Exactly two weeks ago today, on December 6th, 2019, at 6:05pm, my second little girl, Graciana Jane Northup, was born. She had already been quite sick for several weeks and the doctors didn’t hold out much hope for her to survive delivery. Nonetheless, the Lord graciously gave our family two precious hours with her to pray and sing praise over her before He took her home.

Gracie, this race is for you.