Be Afraid...Be Very Afraid
Well, slowly but surely, I’m settling into the idea that my days of corporate aviation are over.
After almost 20 years of ‘tent making’ while pastoring GHCC, it is finally time to hang up my wings. Not for good mind you…I know and am convinced aviation will play a major role in our ministry again one day!
I have been putting it this way: “My days of driving other people's buses are over!”
My first priority this year is building the local Church. Goffstown Harvest Christian Church. And focusing my time on only a few priorities...one of which is writing.
I have been going back through ten plus years of notes and articles I have written. I’m filing them a bit more orderly so I can have access to the material more easily. I know I have a lot more books to write and I’m starting now getting my 'desk' in order.
While going through some older files, I found notes from about eight years ago concerning a particular principle regarding faith. Those notes are the impetus for this article. As I went through them, they seem very appropriate for the season myself and my church are in as we prepare for and expect great things for the next year.
Here we go.
In this study, we are going to take some time discussing one of just a couple things the Scriptures inform us…actually ‘warn’ is a more appropriate word…that we are to have a healthy fear over. That's right. As the title says..."Be afraid...be very afraid."
It is certainly true that “…God has not given us a spirit of fear…” and continually from Genesis to Revelation we are encouraged, rebuked, even commanded, not to be afraid.
In most cases, fear is absolutely off limits to the child of God!
We are prohibited from being afraid!
Having said that…there are some things we are without a doubt supposed to have a healthy, sober, fear of.
Let’s talk about one of those.
“And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see then that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as them, but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world...Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience..." Hebrews 3:18-4:3,11 (italics mine)
And for a little later:
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature…” II Peter 1:3-5
Based on the above quoted Scripture from the Letter to the Hebrews, I'll start off with this statement to get the ball rolling:
“It appears based upon the above passage, there is one healthy fear a Christian should have. After the fear of the Lord of course, it is that of being in unbelief...as it is the primary reason given for not participating in the promised graces of God!"
Continually the Bible warns us about fear and how detrimental it is to experiencing the various graces of God. Yet in this instance, the Bible informs us that there is something to actually be in fear over! For reasons we are about to discover, ‘unbelief’ must be so terrible, harmful, and debilitating, that we are told to be afraid with a goal to avoid being in that condition.
Notice in the above verses (3:18, 4:11), how unbelief and disobedience go hand in hand! That is a statement that ought to sober us all right up. The definition of 'disobedience' is: "failure or refusal to obey rules or someone in authority". Simply, we are given instructions and expectations, and for whatever reason, we refuse. The conclusion we should come to is obvious. Faith in believing God and His Word is not optional.
'Faith' is both a command and an expectation. As serious as "thou shall not commit adultery" or any other command. In the same way our kids disobeyed when we told them to keep their hands off the hot stove, and paid the price for not following our instructions, the Lord considers unbelief and lack of faith, in a similar way.
It is quite evident throughout the Lord’s interaction with men that both He AND His people have roles and responsibilities within His Kingdom. Believing Him is a responsibility we all share as we co-labor with Him. Faith is as much a main ingredient in the Kingdom of Heaven as yeast is to having a big loaf of bread to dip in that seasoned olive oil…with balsamic vinegar of course!
Here is an illustration that has really helped me grasp how faith works. This should help us see clearly why it is so important to the Lord that we grow in our faith and avoid unbelief like the plague.
Faith can be likened to a ‘muscle’ that is flexed to get something done. Whether working on your max bench press or hauling fertilizer out to your lawn to get it green and healthy. In the same way, faith is a vital part of our spiritual makeup. Faith 'lifts' or 'flexes' when the stimulus upon it is the Word of God.
This is my personal definition/description of faith:
Faith is the ability of God’s creation to decisively fix its attention on the will and purposes of God which causes the power, resources, energy, and substance of God, the Spirit of God, to be released into the situation and create it in the timing the Lord desires.
It is the flexing of the mind and will of the individual to remain in agreement with God’s will and purposes, ultimately resulting in the dispensation of God’s grace(s) into the desired situation in the same way an empty glass receives the release of liquid to fill it.
“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised…” Romans 4:20-22
In the same way that Abraham had learned spiritual focus and discipline in the midst of contrary circumstances, the more focused and less distracted the heart and mind are concerning the promise of God…no wavering…the greater the conduit. This allows the virtue of God to be released by His Spirit causing what He promised to come to pass.
I contend that our greatest efforts within all our spiritual disciplines, should be to convene both intellect and conviction to align themselves with the promises and will of God, known primarily through the Scriptures.
“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness…” I Timothy 4:6-7 (italics mine)
In one of our recent services, we took time to discuss the Greek word for ‘train’ i.e. “…to train in words of faith…to train in godliness…”
The word ‘train’ in the Greek is ‘gymnazo’. This is the word we get ‘gymnasium’ from. In the same way a gym has multiple stations for different exercises, so the Word of God has multiple 'stations' which address all the needs of mankind. Importantly, the word tense of the verb 'train' means to dedicate yourself to this training fully, with great intensity, and that this training will never come to an end!
Our God fully expects us to be familiar with spiritual training which certainly includes faith. We are to fully immerse ourselves in practicing to do it better, and we will be doing this until we go home to be with the Lord.
Sorry folks…no spiritual couch potatoes allowed!
A very effective ‘ex