Fear of God, Fear of Man
“The Fiasco of No Fear”
While reflecting on the inverse relationship of the fear of God with the fear of man, I came up with the following question: Given how so much of our lives can be found on the Internet as part of a permanent record, how can one such as myself speak boldly out of fear of God when much of my unregenerate past could be discovered and be used to discredit me, or worse, “discredit” the faith? Is this excessive fear of man on my part? Would you have any advice in either case?
Daniel, it is appropriate to be concerned about the exposure of ongoing hypocrisy, but there is no reason to be concerned about the exposure of whatever it was that Christ saved you from. That kind of threat should be met with “yeah, I was terrible. Let me tell you about Christ.”
Hi Pastor Doug, Always grateful for you.
Would you be willing to elaborate on your comment about Carl Trueman? In what way would internalizing his argument cause him to denounce me as a menace? May the Lord bless You, Your family, and Your Church.
Dave, I was referring to things like his promotion of Aimee Byrd. It is difficult for me to understand how a scholar like Trueman can be so insightful about the currents of Western thought, and so oblivious to examples of it flowing by his front door. But though I have not yet finished the book, it is thus far fantastic. Credit where credit is due.
Thoughts on Chauvin trial:
Furthermore, we used to decry lynch mobs and burning crosses as a horrible way to dispense justice.
Now, we accept them because the skin tones are reversed?
Malachi, I see that you are following developments carefully.
Republican Forms of Government
I appreciate the perspective and can agree with a lot of it, but I have become rather cynical about the republican form of government. In the early days of the republic, we had kingly men like George Washington and John Adams, and most of the early presidents were of good character. But in the 1990s we had Bill Clinton, because of an economic downturn, and in 2008, we elected Obama, for largely the same reason. Now, we have an administration with Kamala Harris in it, and the only alternative to her was Donald Trump, who, we agree, did some good things for the country, but was a man of suspect character. This has made me suspect that perhaps a monarchy would be best in this world too, though, for the very reason Lewis listed, it would be better to have a constitutional monarchy, with a democratically elected or partially democratically elected parliament/congress and in which the king could be deposed or impeached, or censured, for certain high crimes, than an absolute monarchy. It is possible, as John Adams suggested, that longer terms could be given to the president, but that would not keep the Kamala Harrises and Barrack Obamas from coming to power eventually. After all, the common people have just as much sin nature in them as monarchs do, and I would, if forced to choose, choose Prince Charles over Cardi B any time. Monarchy is not required, but the book of Judges, particularly in the last few chapters, are hardly an endorsement of a republican government, as when there was no king, everyone did as he saw fit, resulting in some of the most gruesome examples of wickedness in the Bible.
James, you have stated the problem nicely. I would only insist on a system of checks and balances. But if the people have become spiritually sluggish, as we have, you can have a system of checks and balances and not use it.
Books on American Revolution?
Two book recommendations needed
1. Best book defending the American Revolution from a Christian perspective (especially dealing with Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 if possible)
2. Best book on founding using Christian principles (I think you said something via John Adams like “a nation founded for religious people”) Thank you sir. I have been away a bit but have missed your blog and I am back for more. Also the latest NSA video ad was AMAZING!!
Jon, I would start with some of Gary DeMar’s stuff on America’s Christian history. And I would get this booklet by Gentz, and translated by John Quincey Adams.
Not Your Usual Question
Do you think it is appropriate to call the children of the sons of God in Gen 6 Star-Sons? Thanks,
Kate, I think it is perhaps an appropriate description, but I would prefer the biblical name for them, which would be nephilim.
Allies and Co-Belligerents
It would be helpful if you could lay the principle(s) out a little more plainly that are referenced in “Allies, Co-belligerents, and Strange Bedfellows” for those of us who are a little more dimwitted.
Eric, this may seem odd, but the main principle would be “don’t lie.” For example, when American propaganda started referring to Stalin in glowing terms, just because he was fighting the same guy we were, that muddied the distinction between ally and co-belligerent. Translate that down to our circumstances. You might be grateful that the Mormons helped to defeat some stupid measure in your hometown, but that doesn’t make them Christians.
I’m sorry for double-dipping on the Allies, Strange Bedfellows, and Co-belligerents post, but after processing it a bit more I had a couple more thoughts. I think that in approaching this discussion, there are two important things to consider: cooperative action and labels.
The comparison of a Citizens for Life march and a People of Faith pro-life march gets close to the issue at hand, but let me suggest an alternative scenario. What if, instead of four individuals of different faiths, we are talking about a church, a mosque, a synagogue, and a temple getting together and organizing a demonstration together. What’s more, the church promotes it to the congregation saying, “Let’s all come together as one.” I think this example gets closer to the issue at hand.
The other relevant issue is that of labels. Now, if someone calls me a white supremacist, it means nothing, but if I were to call myself a white supremacist, I would be attaching myself to all that that represents. In another example, if I were to call myself a Marxist, I would be attaching myself to all that that represents. but if I held some views in common with a Marxist, while rejecting the label, I would only be accountable for those views I hold. Even if someone calls me a Marxist then, it makes no difference.
So what labels do we apply to ourselves? I consider myself a Calvinist (more or less), but I do not use the label often, because I am not interested in promoting a sect, but I identify as a Christian before unbelievers to honor Christ, and Evangelical to promote the gospel. Certainly both of those labels carry baggage, but I’m willing to identify with the peculiarities and failings of Christians and Evangelicals specifically in hopes that my actions and the life I live will commend the gospel to non-believers.
So, I think who we identify with, by our actions and our words, is really what is at issue here. As Christians, our opponents will call us names and try to pigeon-hole us into a particular group (John 7:52), but we are responsible for how we walk and who we willingly associate with.
Grace and peace,
Ben, you make a good point in the second half of your letter. The key thing in all this is what name you take on yourself. Fundamentally, at a basic level, it needs to be the name of Christ. As to your former scenario, when a church, mosque, synagogue, and temple “come together as one,” everything depends on definitions. One what? If it is “people of faith” opposing some secular measure, I am against it. Too cozy. But if they are coming together to oppose an eminent domain seizure of some properties near all their places of worship so that the government can put a freeway through, then I think it would be fine.
Allies, Co-Belligerents, and Strange Bedfellows | Good blog post. Now what if you are living in a very religiously Balkanized time period where the metaphysical realities of our gods and idols, even for the atheist and humanist, are paramount, even to the point of each of us holding a supremacist view of our idols or gods above others while everyone equally hating the only One True God? When in times past there were such “neutral” things as “Citizens for Life,” but now that same “Citizens for Life” aren’t just advocating for life but also for life based on their own religious metaphysical standard?
Trey, right. Whatever you do, don’t give away the store.
I appreciate your discussion of Christians working alongside non-believers, because I think it is a very important issue for our times. My concern is that I think you were a little careless with your application of Scripture and you omitted some key texts on the topic.
I’m surprised that you didn’t mention 2 Corinthians 6:14 since I think that is the most clear New Testament text on the topic. I don’t think any of your biblical examples directly contradict this passage since they both involve a secular authority affirming what God has already decreed rather than direct cooperation with non-believers.
That being said, you set the scope of your article with your comment about working together to put out a fire. That sets the scope very broadly, and it likely goes beyond the scope of what is addressed in any of these Scriptures.
Also, while I generally agree with you that we should be careful about accepting aid with strings attached, I think you inappropriately applied 3 John 6-7. Paul is likely referring to the same principle as 1 Corinthians 9:18 which Paul argues vehemently is not to be taken as a rule. Furthermore, you ignored Exodus 3:22 which clearly indicates that the people of God may receive monetary support from non-believers. Also, Nehemiah 5:14 and following illustrates an example where a man of God accepted aid from the secular authorities, but did not use it for the purpose that it was given.
All that said, I agree that we should not let our opponents dictate who we associate with. Jesus associated with people who were considered deplorables by authorities, but he did so to teach them to obey God. As Christians, we should not work alongside the unrighteous, but we should witness to them about the truth of the gospel without caring what man thinks if we hang around them.
Just my thoughts. I hope it is helpful.
Grace and Peace
Ben, thanks for your response. I think you must have misunderstood at least one of the points I was making—I argued that under certain circumstances it is appropriate for believers to receive aid from unbelievers. As for the “unequally yoked” passage, I agree that I could have cited that as well. The issue there is not a transaction with unbelievers, or even aid from them, but rather entered voluntarily into a yoked arrangement. So a believer and an unbeliever could both invest in the same project, but I would counsel against a tight business partnership, because that would be a yoke.
Preaching and Writing
You have been a massive influence on my life as a husband and pastor. Thank you. I have a question about your preaching and writing life. It seems that many of your books are adaptations of your sermons. I believe that I have heard you talk about preaching from an outline most of the time. So, do you re-write your outlines into the books themselves, or do you write out your whole sermon and briefly edit them for book format? I’m asking because I have preached long enough now to have several short books worth of rich content. If I were to ever do anything with them I would have to go back and highly edit my notes. How do you do this so effectively? Thanks for your time.
Austin, yes. A number of my books contain material from sermons. When that happens, here is how it happens. The sermon outline I use is roughly 1100 words, and the sermon preached is roughly 4000 to 5000 words. The outline contains the basic structure and direction, and the rest of it is extemporaneous. When I repurpose a sermon outline for publication, I drop it into the appropriate place in the manuscript and write over the top of it, as though it were my rough draft. I fill it out, sandpaper it, and make it more like a written product.
Got a question the Sunday Liturgy at Christ Church. Every now and then I look up the bulletin and review the hymns and Psalms the church is singing and try to learn some of them myself. However, I did a double-take when I noticed two sermon titles with your name on it: “Flaming Judgment” and “Covenant Life Together 2”; and the week prior “Extraordinary Growth” and “Covenant Life Together Part 1”. My question is do you typically preach two different sermon messages on a Sunday? If so, what’s the thought process behind that? Does each message serve different members? I’ve typically seen from other churches one message preached multiple times on a Sunday, but that doesn’t seem the case here. I would love to read any insight you provide. Thanks!
Ruben, this is simply the result of an odd circumstance we are currently in. The church here is rapidly growing, and we currently have three services, and I preach two of them. We are contemplating going to four services soon, and I will be preaching two of them. Because we have so many new people in our community, the elders wanted me to use one of my preaching slots to preach a “legacy sermon,” the kind of material that has been foundational to the growth of our community here, and as a way of helping new folks get up to the speed. This is probably a temporary measure, but we will see.
Dat Ol Debbel Theonomy
Theonomy (general inquiry): I am stirring the Theonomic Koolaid – water, sugar, Bahnsen, Joe Morecraft, cherries.
However, there seems to be a fly that has fallen in the drink: Acts 15.
Why do the apostles say things like this –
Peter: “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”
James: “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”
Apostles; Letter: ” Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:”
I have not heard this text explained by theonomists thus far, perhaps because I have not dug deep enough, so I figured to go to a living and gracious man such as yourself.
Do you see the fly too or am I ok to drink the Koolaid, crash through a church wall, and exclaim “Oh Yeah!” ?
Blessing to you,
Matt, the complicated system of Levitical worship and animal sacrifice was just such a burden. It was a God-given burden, but it was still a burden. In the arrival of the gospel, everything is gloriously simplified—baptism instead of circumcision, sacrifice of praise instead of slaughtering a lamb, and so on. And the burden that was entailed by the moral law is a burden that Christ has made easy, and the yoke light.
A Closed Church
My church has been closed consistently for over a year now.
My pastor is 79 and is an excellent pastor. He is not afraid to be controversial or publicly ridiculed by the masses for stating his fundamental Christian views publicly.
However on the Covid issue, he appears to have been taken over by genuine irrational fear of the “virus”.
His assistant pastor is of my view that this is simply a hoax, but he has still been happy to allow the church to be closed in order to not upset anyone.
I don’t see the church ever opening again as I believe the Covid narrative is here to stay, if it were to open the pastor would obey every government restriction and it wouldn’t be worth going.
This is the only good church in my county. As a member of the congregation. What should I do ?
Adam, I am very sorry for your situation. The first thing to do would be to stay in fellowship with these people because you believe them to be good people, albeit mistaken. But after that, it seems to me that you need to either move, with church in mind, or pray about starting a church.
Hello—I just listened to the devoured by cannabis podcast. I found it to be well presented and backed up with Scripture with great clarity. Thank you. However there is some things I’d like to bring to your attention. 1) while cannabis is legal in some states it’s illegal federally. Why is this important? Because as long as it is classified as a Class 1 Narcotic there can’t be any research done it is prohibited so all we have here in the USA is anecdotal evidence no clinical trials no double blind peer reviewed research. There is some research being done over seas. etc.
2) there are compounds in cannabis that are non psychoactive but may have medicinal purposes like CBD’s, flavanoids, Terpenes etc. Granted more research needs to be done to find out what they are good for and if they’re safe. Unfortunately this isn’t going to happen in the USA which brings me to my last point.
3) Proverbs 31:6 says….’Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; ‘
What I’d like to talk about is the critically or terminally ill people. People with some sort of cancer. I’ve read (again anecdotally) that cannabis can help with nausea common with chemo and radiation treatments and restore lost appetite also common in cancer patients. Why do I bring this up? Because I am a cancer patient. I have a type of primary brain cancer called Glioblastoma Multiforme Grade IV or GBM for short. What about people like me?. There is no cure for my type of cancer neither is there any such thing as remission. The average lifespan for people with GBM is 14 months. I was diagnosed on November 11th 2018 and not only am I still here I’m doing quite well 30 months into it. So I’ve read several anecdotal cases of people with my disease that are long term survivors that swear it was cannabis. So since I’ve got a deadly disease is it still sinful for me to use cannabis? When I was doing chemo I took it right before I turned out the light the logic being is I feel sick I might sleep through it. What if I took the cannabis right before bed and slept through the psychoactive effects I’m not looking for a way to justify sin which I know my heart is fully capable of. What I’m trying to do is stay alive long enough so that my young grand children ages 4, 2 2 and one on the way will have a memory of me. My wife needs me. My unmarried children need me. I’m just trying to figure out a way to hang out a little longer. I know that it’s far better for me to depart but not for my family. So I fight on. There is so much I could tell you. It’s been an amazing journey.
Jeff, I am very sorry for your affliction. In response, two points. One is that my central problem in cannabis is the THC, not necessarily other extracts. And I have no objection to actual medical research being done, whether overseas or here, on potential benefits and/or side effects of marijuana. If you are helped, I am glad for it, but until careful research is done, you are basically functioning as your own doctor. There are hazards that go with that.
I do have your book coming to me at a high rate of speed. I’m sure you have the right answer in there for those who want to compare drugs and alcohol like Ben did in your letter posting. You weren’t specific with him, but I’m hoping you recognize and write about how mind-altering drugs don’t really have a range of moderation like alcohol does. So while you can drink without reaching the point of sin, it’s not really possible with drugs. That’s not the only reason it’s a sin, but an easily recognizable one for those of us who dealt with that sin in the past (and repented). Thanks for all you do.
Lance, yes. I make that point in the book. There are multiple legitimate uses of alcohol recognized by Scripture—celebratory, sacramental, thirst, etc. The one prohibited use for alcohol is the one thing that people are trying to get from cannabis. But no one smokes weed because it pairs nicely with the fish.
For Definite Atonement vs the other. The two main views are that Christ died to secure the salvation of the elect or that he died to make salvation possible. Elsewhere you explained how the latter fails in that it leaves people in hell for whom Christ has paid their punishment. Therefore along with other arguments and passages supporting this claim the first option makes the most sense. I agree with this completely. My question comes as I follow the logic train to the next stop—if we are elected and those who are elect are those for whom Christ paid the fine as understood through penal substitutionary atonement. And if we, like all, are also born into this world condemned (John 3:17-18) and must be rescued and transferred into the Kingdom (Col 1:13) at some point. How is it that we are, before salvation, in a state where we are both condemned before God and yet because Christ died 2000 years ago the price has been paid for the elect yet not applied to us yet. I am aware that all who are elect can’t die in this state of condemnation. And I’m sure somewhere along the way I have made the wrong assumption leading to my confusion. The question itself is hard to articulate but to try and sum it up. How can the elect, before salvation, have their punishment definitely paid for 2000 yrs ago, yet be in a condemned state where this has not yet been applied to their account. I think trying to bring time into the mix is whats confusing me but any sort of help in understanding this would be greatly appreciated.
Kaleb, the virtues of Christ’s death are applied to the elect in history at the time of the effectual call. That is when we experience it. But God knows the end from the beginning, and the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. In history, He was slain two thousand years ago. But God knows all things, and He knows His elect. You are right that the solution to the problem is the intersection of time and eternity.
Jordan and Death
Random question not related to a post. I have been listening to J.B. Jordan’s seminar on the Canon App. Its great! One thing I’m curious about though is his take on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He seems to imply Adam died when he was put to sleep to have Eve taken from him, and likewise, that in time and maturity he would have been able to eat from the tree and it would have also been a kind of death. This whole idea is very new to me. I think Lewis dabbled In this thought in Perelandra, but I could be wrong. Do you recommend any resource that lays this out in an exegetical way, or a more plain fashion? Thanks Doug!
B, I believe that Adam’s deep sleep was “like” a death, but not death. It was a type of death—Christ’s bride was taken from His side, just like Adam’s was (John 19:34). But I object to the terminology of Jordan’s view of “good death” because throughout Scripture death is described as an enemy. But I do believe that had Adam passed his probationary test he would have been translated, like Enoch or Elijah. And sorry I don’t know of any other sources to go to on this one.
Our church staff got into a discussion yesterday about self defense, fighting a bully, etc. It was clear that we need to do some work on the issue. We referenced Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek but were also in agreement that if someone tries to harm my wife or family it is my duty as a husband/father to protect them. My question is pertaining to raising boys and how to teach them. Should they fight a bully or turn the other cheek? Do they turn the other cheek when it is just directed at them but fight for someone else? Have you dealt with these questions somewhere!?
Chris, if it is ever a man’s duty to fight to defend himself, then boys have to be taught when and how to do that. If it is ever a man’s duty to turn the other cheek, then boys need to be taught that also. And there are occasions where both responses are appropriate. If a boy can defuse a situation, then he should. If he can overcome evil with good, then he should. And if he needs to take a stand against a bully, then he should. My rule of thumb for identifying this last one has to do with whether he is performing a public service.
The Day of Resurrection
I only recently discovered your two podcasts and have enjoyed them. Thank you. I recently saw/heard you interviewed about Postmillennialism on a YouTube channel.
You explained Isaiah 65:20 as being in the millennium and said “so one thing we know for sure about the millennium is that there’s death in the millennium.”
I will copy portions of 3 Isaiah 65 verses which seem to be a counter to your claim:
65:20b – for the young man shall die a hundred years old
65:22b – for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be
65:25 – The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
So, three more “things we know about the millennial period are:
1) the righteous will live FAR beyond 100 years of age
2) the righteous will live such a long time that it will be like the age of a tree
3) the effects of the fall evidenced in nature will be reversed.
Hopefully I’ve been fair (in your eyes) with those texts.
Could you address the idea that Isaiah is addressing the eternal state. The fulfillment of the OT promises, as fleshed out in the NT, are greater than the wording found in many of the OT texts.
The eternal state is MUCH BETTER than living past 100 years of age .> it is eternal life with God.
Of the Isaiah 65 passages referenced, the only one I’m not “allowing for” is the unrighteous person dying before they’re 100. In the eternal state there would be no death or unrighteousness.
In your comment on the interview, you are using that one text for your postmillennialism but are ignoring (for the time being) all the other passages around that text.
Evan, I am afraid that I don’t really understand your question or objection, so please feel free to comment further if I miss it. In my view, Isaiah 65 is describing a golden age of human history prior to the Final Coming of Christ. When Christ comes, the dead are raised, and there will be no more dying. There is dying in Isaiah 65, and so therefore it must be prior to His coming. This, in contrast to the dispensational view that this golden age is after the coming of Christ, which allows for a continuation of death and dying (even of godly persons). Which I believe is untenable.