"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:17 - 18

     Fear is a terrible incentive to serve God. In fact it is no incentive to truly acceptable Christian service! The day of judgement is made the focal point of fear-motivated Christianity in most religious circles today. Preachers who can descibe the flames and make you smell the burning flesh of the wicked are applauded for their evangelistic zeal and success. The more sinners you can scare into a "decision," the greater your success in the eyes of admiring onlookers. Friends, considering these words quoted from I John, this kind of fear-centered teaching is nothing short of blasphemy compared to biblical Christianity! There is a respectful, reverential fear of God taught in scripture which we will study at length in this series, but the kind of fear described here is the wrong kind. It is rather condemned in scripture than commended. Yes and yet there is a few we must know before His love and salvation has meaning to us.

     This lesson presents us with a fundamental Bible truth, that the child of God who has been saved by the grace of God and the work of Jesus on the cross has no reason to fear the day of judgement. There is a day of judgement, there is an eternal punishment for the wicked taught in scripture, but the child of God has nothing to fear from that judgement, for his Savior Jesus Christ has already satisfied the just demands of that day by paying the legal penalty for his sins. For the child of God that day can only further demonstrate the marvelous success of his Lord in removing the eternal consequences of sin from his future. Yes, even the day of judgement will be a day when Jesus will be praised for his perfect salvation.

     The problem in our lesson deals with the attitude of so many of us who have not yet realized the perfect love of God in his Son Jesus Christ and the annihilation of fear which perfect love instills within us, even as we contemplate the day of judgement. As the wicked servant who refused to invest his master's one talent for which he was responsible, many of us harbor a wrong attitude of fear toward God which hinders our faithful service. In this lesson the word fear is translated from the Greek word phobos, the root for our English phobia. A person who possesses a true phobia is paralyzed by this torturing fear just as a child of God who performs every act of Christian service because he is afraid of eternal judgement is so paralyzed that he can never perform a truly acceptable act of obedience to a loving Savior. He is obsessed with the unbalanced, driven conduct of his phobia. Only when we so comprehend the love of God that we can think of eternal judgement without fear will our love be perfected, because we respect the depth and commitment of his love for us.

     Many claim to think of that day without fear because of their good works or faith. However, the basis of no fear in this lesson is not what man has done, but the perfect love of God. "We love him, because he first loved us" is the very next verse in this lesson. The focus is not on the goodness of man, but on the love of God! The man who looks at eternal judgement without fear based on a false confidence in his faith or good works makes it clear that he is depending on his own faith and good works for salvation with no real dependence on the love of God.

     "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear" heralds the trumpet sound of the true message of a Bible-based gospel, it builds the entire structure of Christian service on the wonderful love of God and the success of the cross. It directs all attention and honor to the one who loved us with a love which cannot be destroyed.

It confirms the language of Romans 8:38 - 39:

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

     The word persuaded which Paul used here means that he had explored all possibilities, considered all alternatives, and had reached a settled, thought-out conclusion that separation from the love of God was impossible! This man's conclusion was based on the love of God being perfected in him. He understood the reality of God's love! In Ephesians 3:18 - 19 this same Paul prayed for the Ephesian church to comprehend the all-pervasive dimensions of the love of God, both in their minds and in their life experiences.

     Those who object to this truth on the notion that it removes obligation and gives license to sin unwittingly reveal the true fear-basis of their religion. This truth offers no license to sin, but it does establish the foundation for perfect obedience founded on the love of God! As a parent longs for his child's obedience motivated by love and respect, so the Lord seeks our worship and obedience from the same motive.

The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled, and pardoned from his sin.
When hoary time shall pass away, and earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;
When men who here refuse to pray, on rocks and hills and mountains call;
God's love, so sure, shall still endure, all measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam's race--the saints' and angels' song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Tho' stretched from sky to sky.
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!
It shall forever more endure--the saints' and angels' song.

          F.M. Lehman

Elder Joe Holder
Little Zion Primitive Baptist Church
16434 Woodruff
Bellflower, California

Fear: Part 3 - Fear Versus Love

Submitted by Sister Martha Pitney
Of Friendship PBC in Denver

Previous | Contact Us