The importance of the fear of the Lord

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From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 21 – Assurance of salvation

You will never start to do any of this, or continue doing so, unless you fear the Lord.  Therefore ask God to give you a healthy and powerful fear of Him.  But don’t just leave it to Him.  Pursue it for yourself.  Read His Word.  Learn the Bible.  Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.  Soften your heart.  Humble yourself.  Be obedient to any of God’s commands that you already know about.  Then He will open your eyes further and teach you more.  But if you disobey Him then He will, eventually, leave you on your own to pursue the foolish path you have chosen.

Therefore, stay on the narrow path.  Do not wander, even for a moment, onto the broad path that leads to destruction.  If you do stray onto it, then repent quickly and return, while you still have time, to the narrow path.  Let’s take seriously what Jesus said on this point:

13“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)

The part God plays in keeping you from falling away

I have spoken of the need to remain faithful and of the part you have to play in that.  However, if you are a sincere believer who genuinely wishes to remain faithful to the end, then you are not going to be left to do that all by yourself.  God is able, and very willing, to help you to hold on to Him and to enable you to stay faithful:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,

Jude 24 (NIV)

We can take great comfort from this verse and hold it in balance, alongside the many warning passages.  It helps to explain how it can be possible to hold firm, despite all our weaknesses and the many temptations we face.  It is possible to remain faithful precisely because He helps us.  He gives us the grace we need to persist.   It is He who can be trusted to help us to complete the process of becoming a disciple:

And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  

Philippians 1:6 (RSV)

Moreover, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that we have Jesus, our High Priest, making intercession for us.  That means that He is praying for us to God the Father.  His prayers help us to remain faithful:

24but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.25Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 

Hebrews 7:24-25 (NASB)

If I thought it all depended on me and on my own faithfulness and perseverance, I would be very alarmed.  Thankfully, it doesn’t.  We can trust Him to help us, if we sincerely ask Him to do so.  Sincere people tend to seek His help.  Complacent people tend not to.

So, even in the light of all the warning passages, I can still rejoice and feel assured of my eventual destination.  Despite all my many weaknesses and failings,  I know that He is holding onto me and that He is enabling me to hold onto Him.

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