As a Minister and teacher of the Gospel, it is my desire that whenever I speak, I speak sound doctrine. That is why I study hard, very hard to preach and teach with clarity. You sometimes have a mixed audience and that is normal. You have those who believe, and you have those who are skeptical. It is always a challenge to teach the skeptics. Everything is a conspiracy to them. They have so many questions, which in essence points more to doubt and not necessarily seeking to truly learn. I was speaking to a friend of mine and she was sharing her beliefs. One of the things she shared is that she loves the Lord, she does not fear Him. She expressed how she was tired of sitting in pews where the messages were more toward fear than love. I could relate to where she was coming from and never really discussed it any further. She believes in God she goes to church, and she reads her bible. Amen! No need to stay on that subject. Funny thing though. Two days later, one of my young brothers in Christ shared this verse with me:
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1Jo 4:18)
Then he asked me why are we to fear the Lord if love casts out fear. I began to chuckle to myself. My friend sometimes read my blog, and I pray she is chuckling too. However, I had to apologize to God, because I did not attempt to offer clarity. The bible states:
“And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;” (Isa 11:2)
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Pr 1:7)
"But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Lu 12:5)
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb 10:31 (Red Heb 10:26-31)
In looking at these verses, it appears we have a contradiction, key word “appears”. God’s word is inerrant and infallible. There is no contradiction in His word. So pertaining to these verses, is there a contradiction or is there a case of misinterpretation?
Before we look into it, I have some questions for you to consider. A mom loves her son. She loves her son so much, that she is concerned about the choices he is making. He is hanging with the wrong crowd, there is evidence of him using drugs, and now one of the friends he was hanging out with, was murdered. She needs to reach out to him, and she fears that she will lose him if she doesn’t. Because she exercised this fear, does it cast out the love she has for her son? When I was a young boy, I remember my mom told me to do something that I did not want to do. I expressed my disagreement and in the process of that, I raised my voice. My mom beat me until she was tired. It never happened again because I feared what the result was going to be. Even now, as a grown man of the age of………well, anyway, I still have to check my tone when I speak with her. No one can tell me I do not love my mother. What about people who love life, but fear losing it? So because of this fear, they do not love life? Surely these examples are absurd, so how do we reconcile this so called “contradiction”?
Let’s take a look at the verse again. It states “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” What is the reason for this? Let’s look at what the previous verses read:
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” (1 Jon 4:15-17) What these verses are saying is that practicing Christians have nothing to worry about when it comes to God’s judgment (torment). If we say we love God, then we are obedient to His word, and need not be concerned about what awaits for unrepentant sinners. The latter part of verse 18 says those who fear has not been made perfect in love, meaning that their faith is wavering. There are still issues that they know they have yet to overcome and the word of God is convicting them. Amen!
What about the other verses and my examples? Oh, I am sorry, did I share with you the definition of fear? Fear is defined:
1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone's safety.
4. reverential awe, esp. toward God.
The example I gave pertaining to the woman who loves her son can be attributed to #3. The examples I gave pertaining to my mom and one who fears losing life can be attributed to # 1. However none of them pertains to fearing God’s judgment. The other verses however speak about fearing the Lord. I shared two examples in the Old and New Testament. The word used for fear in the Old Testament is “yir'ah” (Hebrew), which means,; fear (also used as infinitive); morally, reverence:--dreadful, exceedingly. The word used for fear in the New Testament is “phobeo” (Greek), which means frighten, i.e. (passively) to be alarmed; by analogy, to be in awe of, i.e. revere:--be (+ sore) afraid, fear (exceedingly), reverence. As you can see in both Hebrew and Greek translations the words used for fear can mean to be afraid or to show reverence. Was not one of the definitions for fear (#4) was to show reverential awe?
So are we to fear or love the Lord? Practicing Christians need not to fear because the love they have for God does not allow them to fear what will not come to them. Unrepentant sinners should fear. Are we to fear or love the Lord? Yes, we should show reverence to the Lord because this is also a sign of wisdom. To act contrary to the One who is worthy, is evidence of foolishness. Finally, you have some who says “what about the verse where it reads “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)? The apostle Paul was giving a charge to his young apprentice Timothy, and encouraging him to stand on the word and to preach with power. The word used for fear here is “deilia” (Greek) which means timidity or fear. The word timid is defined as lacking in self-assurance, courage, or bravery; easily alarmed; timorous; shy; characterized by or indicating fear.
It is important that pastors, ministers, preachers, teachers, or anyone who is going to share the gospel, practice 2 Tim 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” If care is not taken to translate the words, to read commentaries from renowned theologians, to read a few verses before and after, and to cross reference other verses to see the alignment, error will be taught and heard instead of truth. Amen!