Archive for May 11th, 2008

A good wife

“A good wife is heaven’s last, best gift to man, his angel, his minister of graces innumerable, his gem of many virtues, her voice his sweetest music, her smiles her brightest day, her kiss the guardian of his innocence, her arms the pale of his safety, the balm of his health, the sheer balsam of his life, her industry his surest wealth, her economy his safest steward, her lips his faithful counselor, her prayers the ablest advocate of heaven’s blessing on his head.”–source unkown

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What is the fear of the Lord? Do you fear the Lord?

I preached on this in my Lord’s Day message. What follows are four godly men’s definition of the fear of the Lord and some application questions to help you evaluate your own heart regarding the fear of the Lord?

John Murray, a respected theologian, gave this stunningly simple description of the fear of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the soul of godliness.” He elaborated by saying, “The fear of God in which godliness consists is the fear which constrains [compels or powerfully produces] adoration and love. It is the fear which consists in awe, reverence, honor, and worship, and all of these on the highest level of exercise. It s the reflex in our consciousness of the transcendent majesty and holiness of God.” In that definition you have the themes of respect, admiration and awe.

It is important to realize that what Murray describes and the Scripture supports is a “childlike fear” not a “slavish fear.” The fear of the Lord which forms the soul of godliness in a Christian is a fear akin to that of a child who respects, admires, and holds his father in awe. It is not a fear full of terror.

Sinclair Ferguson describes it as “that indefinable mixture of reverence, fear, pleasure, joy, and awe which fills our hearts when we realize who God is and what He has done for us.”

Jerry Bridges would concur. He understands “the fear of the Lord” to be a profound sense of awe toward God. This sense of awe is undoubtedly the dominant element in the attitude or set of emotions that the Bible calls “the fear of God.” It results in a mixture of fear, veneration, wonder, and admiration. This fear of God then is an obedient reverence and awe!

Biblical counselor Ed Welch offers this definition: “the fear of God is responding to God’s character—holiness in his love and sternness.” The holiness of God, expressed in both his love and justice, finds its zenith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel announces the liberation found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In that death, we find the seriousness of sin: the Son of Man was crushed instead of us; Jesus himself drank the cup of God’s wrath in our place. God’s righteousness and anger are truly holy. Yet in the gospel we also find unprecedented mercy, love, and forgiveness. The penalty our sins deserve is redirected so that all we receive is grace.

“The fear of the Lord” then is a mature response to God as King, Lord, and Father and to the Son as both the Exalted One and the Suffering Servant who both hates sin and delights in forgiving sinners.

The fear of God results from knowing that I always live coram deo—I live before the face of a holy God!

  • Do I experience at least to some degree, the fear of God, as it has been described?
  • Does my fear of God tend to be “slavish” so that I view God as a stern taskmaster who’s never pleased with me?
  • Is my fear of God so shallow that I tend to be overly familiar with God and fail to show the reverential awe that is due Him?
  • Do I sometimes indulge in known sinful actions (or thoughts or words) because I do not have a proper regard for God’s fatherly discipline?

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We must see and feel the incomparable excellency of the Son of God. Incomparable because in him meet infinite glory and lowest humility, infinite majesty and transcendent meekness, deepest reverence toward God and equality with God, infinite worthiness of good and greatest patience to suffer evil, supreme dominion and exceeding obedience, divine self-sufficiency and childlike trust.

The irony of our human condition is that God has put us within sight of the Himalayas of his glory in Jesus Christ, but we have chosen to pull down the shades of our chalet and show slides of Buck Hill-even in church. We are content to go on making mud pies in the slums because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.

Don’t let your worship decline to the performance of mere duty. Don’t let the childlike awe and wonder be choked out by unbiblical views of virtue. Don’t let the scenery and poetry and music of your relationship with God shrivel up and die. You have capacities for joy which you can scarcely imagine. They were made for the enjoyment of God. He can awaken them no matter how long they have lain asleep. Pray for his quickening power. Open your eyes to his glory. It is all around you.

From Desiring God, John Piper

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The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 supported her husband’s vision and lifework. How can you support your husband’s vision and submit to his imperfect leadership so that you are a faithful woman of God. Let me suggest this practical applications:

  • Forgive your husband for his weaknesses and sins. Love and understand him for who he is, not for what you want him to be. Until you forgive, you won’t move ahead.
  • Be an energy giver, not an energy drainer. Take some bricks off your husbands’ back instead of putting more bricks on.
  • Say to him, “I would like to do what would make you happy. Is there a better way to serve you? Is there any thing I can do right now that I am not doing that would make you happy? Is there something little even I can do that make your life easier. Different with every man.
  • Use the language of submission, not of education: Illustration of family worship. Not, “Pastor said we should do this, you know. Why aren’t you doing this? Huh?” Instead try, “Would you read _________ out loud? Could you lead us in a song? Remember you asked me to remind you of this. I know you have had a rough day, would you like me to read tonight?”
  • Honor your husband before others.
  • Make your home a happy place. Does your husband want to be home? Does he want to be there?
  • Don’t be a thorn, a bricklayer, or a drip!
  • Never complain about what you do not have. Learn to live on less. When you say to your husband, “I need this” you can take everything you are trying to do positive in the family and just throw it out the door.” If you say to your husband, “I need a higher standard of living” it is as if you have just said, “Here are ten more bricks and you had better deliver or you aren’t a good husband.”
  • Recognize the wisdom of God in giving you your husband. Ask God for a godly perspective on your marriage.

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