David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Tag: Fear


Fear is the Enemy of Faith, Faith is the Enemy of Fear

“I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.” | Elisabeth Elliot

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” | Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)

These are unexpected, historic, trying times to say the least. And it is during these times I believe the Lord gives us a great opportunity for personal, communal and societal reflection. But then there’s fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of loss (whatever form that takes), anxiety that we have no control over this situation, how long it will last, what shape it will take in the future, on and on. A person (points at self) can easily get wrapped around the axle at 3am in the middle of the night on all of this (or 2pm for that matter when dealing with even more struggles with the kids as cabin fever sets in). Fear is the enemy of faith in general, but at these times it gets ratcheted up exponentially. It’s no wonder this was the most repeated command in the Bible: “Fear not…” 

Yet the reverse is also true: faith is the enemy of fear. I believe the Lord has handed us a great opportunity filled with hope. This is a time for us, His people, to slow down, to take a step back and press into our life with Jesus individually and with our families or roommates, to recapture and develop routines and habits that move and press us into the resurrection life and activity of the Spirit. 

This is where for me the Daily Office patterns of prayer and Scripture readings throughout the day have been life giving. http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/mobile/devotions/bcp/

Generally, what this looks like is simply having a morning, afternoon and evening time of prayer, Scripture reading and meditation. And it doesn’t have to be some long, drawn out time. Make it your own. Just wake up, get coffee and pray through a Psalm or two. Let it penetrate your own heart as you dwell on it. Then at lunch, stop what you’re doing, step away (as the setting allows) and repeat by reading more Psalms, an Old Testament reading or a New Testament reading. Then in the evening, either alone or with your family or roommates, read the gospel reading and pray, resting and rejoicing in Your Father’s rejoicing in and over You. Just make it consistent. This is a great pattern to start and get in the habit of, a time to take a step back from the chaos and uncertainty and be in the word and in prayer, really as a means to simply be with Jesus, either alone or with others. Let Him work His healing salve and the means of grace into Your heart. Allow Him to dine with You and fill Your soul with what is the banquet Your soul and my soul so desperately needs: Jesus Himself.

Here is a lecture series Pastor Brian (at Trinity Pres Fort Worth) did at the very beginning of Trinity I have posted before that explains this in greater detail. Such good, rich material I commend to you to sit with and take in during this time. https://trinitypresfw.org/media/lectures/formation/

None of this chaos catches our Father by surprise. The past, present and future is ever-present before Him and is all worked out for His glory and our good. He is sovereign, He is kind and loving. He is our great Physician with a surgeon’s scalpel and healing hand who knows exactly what we need to shape us and form us into the image of His Son, the very One who went through the worst form of suffering, to the cross, bearing our wrath, and rose again, victorious over sin, death and hell, so that we could live with Him forever in the City of the New Jerusalem. Let’s together as His people put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6) and stand firm in the faith, resisting the work of the devil to discourage us, fighting the temptation to fear and press toward our great King who has already won the victory, with the hope and resiliency of the saints in the past who have endured similar trials.

“On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…”

May it be so. Amen.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” | Romans 5:1–6 (ESV)

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” | James 1:2–5 (ESV)

Health Care, Fear and the Christian Life

Don’t Be Afraid – Russell Moore

It is a sad day … no, not about health care. It is sad to see so many, I would even venture to say a majority of fellow believers (many possibly assumed believers of the verbally violent conservative bent) controlled more by their affections and longings for a temporal, earthly kingdom that will pass away, yes, even America with all of its greatness, instead of the eternal kingdom ruled by Jesus with His might and power that will never pass away. It is sad to see fellow believers more mournful for the loss they feel of their “rights” or privileges that are gifts of grace to begin with, than upset about the tragedy of sin in their own hearts or the tragedy that a great majority of people around us will go to hell under God’s just punishment (think Jesus looking over Jerusalem and weeping). It is sad to see believers more willing to voice their outrage, anger and fear over legislation that will come and go (all the while ignoring His sovereign authority over that legislation to begin with) than voice their commitment to the Gospel and commitment to solid doctrine.

I am not without fault in these areas. I’ve learned the hard way in the not-so-distant past. This isn’t to say I didn’t struggle with these affections during this recent process even. This does not mean I don’t hold the same convictions I’ve always held. And it doesn’t mean I withhold commentary on points of conviction or withhold my involvement in the political process. If anything, we need more and improved discourse concerning all these issues and more to come. It is unfortunate public discourse has devolved into “tweet” snippets of useless rhetoric that does little to address actual issues.

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The Fear of the LORD is Hatred of Evil

“The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” – Proverbs 8:13

Within the church many times, we consider “gross” sins to be homosexuality, excessive drinking, fornication, adultery, thievery, murder, cursing, etc. And while those are in no way minimized in the Scriptures as sins that are destructive both personally and relationally (and above all in relation to God Himself), the passage above speaks just as strongly against those who are prideful and arrogant within themselves. In fact, as the passage says, wisdom hates pride, arrogance, the way of evil, and perverted speech, all of those together. Seeing as how the Scriptures are the Word of God breathed out, these are His thoughts. The LORD hates pride and arrogance with a just and righteous passion.

While even unbelievers should be humbled by the fact that God doesn’t bring His hand down to crush them at this instant, how much more humbled should we be who claim to have been shown mercy at the hand of God through Christ? And yet so often, this is not the case. We so quickly turn our judgment to the outside world and what they’re doing wrong, when we need to be turning the cutting standard of the Word inwardly and analyze ourselves, measuring ourselves against it, and not our own ideals of what is morally better and worse. What about our pride and arrogance against those very people who need Jesus and are running from Him in defiance? Is this pride we possess not just as wicked in the eyes of the Lord as the evil committed outside the church? What about our hatred of those who run wholeheartedly away from the Lord? Shouldn’t you have been the one that ran away from God? What made you humble and willing to believe in Christ, yourself or the grace of God alone?

I’m in no way saying I am exempt from having committed these sins myself and speak to myself just as much as anyone reading this. I’m a sinner and have fallen in so many ways. But regardless, it seems to be a spirit within many churches where others, those outside the church, are looked down upon as greater sinners who do not hold to our own personal moral standards, when in reality, we are murderers in our hearts just like those in prison who have committed the outward act. When we hate or look down upon people for their sins, the Lord sees our hearts much like He sees Jeffrey Dahmer’s. Meditate on that for a minute in light of Romans 3:9-18. We are commanded to be pursuing holiness through faith in Christ, and yet it seems we have forgotten the fundamentals of how we were saved.

So how do we come to hate what is evil, namely pride and arrogance within our own hearts? The answer is in the verse above. “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.” What does it mean to fear the Lord? “I thought we weren’t supposed to fear Him at all because of Christ?” There is one sense in which that is true. Those in Christ have been ultimately accepted for eternity. There is no fear of condemnation for those who believe. And yet at the same time, even as believers, we are called by Scripture to fear the Lord. This fear is humility. Andrew Murray talks about three separate ways in which we should be humbled as believers: 1) as a creature, 2) as a sinner, and 3) as a saint.

As a creature: There is great amount of humility we should have in being a creature subject to the King of glory. He created us without our permission, for His own glory and purposes, and He has freedom over us that we do not have over Him. This is abundantly clear in Scripture. He is the Creator, we are the creatures.

As a sinner: We should also be greatly humbled that as sinners, we have slapped God in the face and told Him, “No, you do not have control over me, in any sense. I control myself and my own destiny,” and yet He is extremely patient toward our evil toward Him. It is God’s sheer grace toward both believers and unbelievers that He doesn’t stomp us out right now for the vile that comes out of our hearts through our mouths, hands, and feet. We have offended an infinitely holy God and therefore the wrath justly due to us is infinite and eternal. This is greatly humbling and strikes right at the heart of human pride, and is one of the biggest reasons people cannot accept it. They are hardened to this message because they do not want to hear it.

As a saint: Having been rightly humbled by our willful disobedience against the King of Glory, how humbled should we be to see that this holy God who owes us nothing but wrath made a way for us to be accepted through taking that wrath Himself on our behalf at the cross? We should be greatly humbled and possess an honest fear at the greatness of the frightening power and unfathomable depths of the love of God. As a saint we are humbled to not be objects of wrath, but now, because of Christ’s perfect work, we are objects of mercy. Did He have to save you? No. Why did you believe while another person in a similar position that heard the same Gospel message did not heed the call? Why did you willingly say yes to Christ? Was it not the grace of God who Himself made you willing? Ultimately, this is humbling and should move us to love the things Christ loves and hate the things He hates more and more. “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.” All kinds of evil, including our own self-righteous pride and arrogance.

We must constantly reorient ourselves with our humble position as creatures, sinners, and as God’s adopted people through the work of Christ. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1:7) And at the same time, There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” These are both different forms of humility, one in which we despise ourselves for our rebellion and yet know that we are accepted. Reorienting ourselves with the Gospel daily should bring about a correct response of both acceptance and fear of God’s might and power. God had mercy on you through the work of Christ while you were still unwilling to submit to Him by yourself. And He did this by turning your heart and giving you a willing spirit that was sensitive to heed the call of the Gospel. Praise God for His grace in moving us to faith when we wanted nothing of it until He opened our eyes to His beauty! May that squash our pride and arrogance against an increasingly pagan society. Just remember, that should have been you and would have had God not intervened and gone underneath your entire being to move you to love Him.

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