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Discussion Forum : Revivals And Church History : The Early Church on the Fear Of The Lord

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 The Early Church on the Fear Of The Lord



Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

And the spirit of the LORD will be caused to rest upon him; a spirit of wisdom and understanding; a spirit of counsel and strength; a spirit of knowledge and piety; a spirit of the fear of God shall fill him up. Isaiah 11:2-3 (LXX)

Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

Let us be spiritually-minded: let us be a perfect temple to God. As much as in us lies, let us meditate upon the fear of God, and let us keep His commandments, that we may rejoice in His ordinances. Barnabas (A.D. 70-130) ch.4

Adorned by a thoroughly virtuous and religious life, you did all things in the fear of God. The commandments and ordinances of the Lord were written upon the tablets of your hearts. Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) ch.2

For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you, inasmuch as every one abandons the fear of God, and is become blind in His faith, neither walks in the laws of His commandments. Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) ch.3

Let us fear the Lord Jesus [Christ], whose blood was given for us… the fear of Him is good and great and saves all them that walk therein in a pure mind with holiness. For He is the searcher out of the intents and desires; whose breath is in us, and when He wills, He shall take it away. Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) ch.21

The Father, who is pitiful in all things, and ready to do good, has compassion on them that fear Him. Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) ch.23

Since therefore all things are seen and heard, let us fear Him, and forsake the abominable lusts of evil works, that we may be shielded by His mercy from the coming judgments. Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) ch. 28

You see, brethren, in proportion as greater knowledge has been vouchsafed unto us, so much the more are we exposed to danger. Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) ch. 41

For such as walk in fear and love desire that they themselves should fall into suffering rather than their neighbors; and they pronounce condemnation against themselves rather than against the harmony which has been handed down to us nobly and righteously. Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) ch.50

Brethren, we ought so to think of Jesus Christ, as of God, as of the Judge of quick and dead. Second Clement (A.D. 100) ch. 1

And we ought not rather to fear men but God. For this cause, if you do these things, the Lord said, Though you be gathered together with Me in My bosom, and do not My commandments, I will cast you away and will say unto you, Depart from Me, I know you not whence you are, you workers of iniquity. Second Clement (A.D. 100) ch.4

These are the last times. Henceforth let us have reverence; let us fear the long-suffering of God, lest it turn into a judgment against us. For either let us fear the wrath which is to come or let us love the grace which now is - the one or the other; provided only that we be found in Christ Jesus unto true life. Ignatius: to the Ephesians (A.D. 35-105) ch. 11

"Fear the Lord," said he, "and keep His commandments. So keeping the commandments of God you shall be powerful in every deed, and your doing shall be incomparable. For whilst you fear the Lord, you shall do all things well. But this is the fear wherewith you ought to be afraid, and you shall be saved. But fear not the devil; for, if you fear the Lord, you shall be master over the devil, for there is no power in him. [For] in whom is no power, neither is there fear of him; but in whom power is glorious, of him is fear likewise. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.37

Fear therefore is of two kinds. If you desire to do evil, fear the Lord, and you shall not do it. If again you desire to do good, fear the Lord and you shall do it. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 24

Every creature fears the Lord, but not every one keeps His commandments. Those then that fear Him and keep His commandments, they have life unto God; but they that keep not His commandments have no life in them. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 24

But do you clothe yourself in the desire of righteousness, and, having armed yourself with the fear of the Lord, resist them. For the fear of God dwells in the good desire. If the evil desire shall see you armed with the fear of God and resisting itself, it shall flee far from you, and shall no more be seen of you, being in fear of your arms. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.28

In fine, the system He pursues to inspire fear is the source of salvation. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.230

By guarding against sinning, we guard against suffering. "For I would have you know," says Jude, "that God, having once saved His people from the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not; and the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He has reserved to the judgment of the great day, in everlasting chains under darkness of the savage angels." And a little after he sets forth, in a most instructive manner, representations of those that are judged: "Woe unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain, and run greedily after the error of Balaam, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." For those, who cannot attain the privilege of adoption, fear keeps from growing insolent. For punishments and threats are for this end, that fearing the penalty we may abstain from sinning. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.282

They say that God is not to be feared; therefore all things are in their view free and unchecked. Where, however is God not feared, except where He is not? Where God is not, there truth also is not. Where there is no truth, then, naturally enough, there is also such a discipline as theirs. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg.264-265

Fear is the foundation of salvation; presumption is an impediment to fear. More useful, then, is it to apprehend that we may possibly fail, than to presume that we cannot; for apprehending will lead us to fear, fearing to caution, and caution to salvation. On the other hand, if we presume, there will be neither fear nor caution to save us. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg. 19


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2011/10/6 14:07Profile
dietolive
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Joined: 2007/6/29
Posts: 342


 Re: The Early Church on the Fear Of The Lord

Nothing said contradicts the true Gospel. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. It did my soul well to read this.

Be well today,
Doug

 2011/10/6 14:43Profile
ThyKingCome
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Joined: 2011/4/19
Posts: 169
Southern CA

 Re:

This is priceless...

Thank you so much dear brother for posting.

...it would be interesting to continue this study through history and watch the time gaps get broader and broader...who is there left to quote these days?

May the Lord restore His Holy Fear to His people and may He use the simulcast as a volcano of life and explosion to such an end!!!


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Brother Kevin

 2011/10/6 15:06Profile









 Re: The Early Church on the Fear Of The Lord

While I agree that a right fear of the Lord is necessary, I often get the sense that for many of these early Fathers (and I have read their works) that for them, salvation meant walking a tightrope of strict morals
while God (metaphorically speaking) holds a gun to your back. One slip and your out (if you don't believe me just read works such as the Shepherd of Hermas, or Tertullian's views on there being no forgiveness for certain pots-baptismal sins).

We should fear the Lord. However, if it is the kind of fear in the same way that one would fear a grumpy, strict, unforgiving school master then I'm not sure I could also love a God like that.

I do not wish to dishonour these early heroes of the faith but I would bank on this: If I (and probably most folks that visit this forum) were judged by their standards then I would be on my way to hell, simply for not being holy or righteous enough.

 2011/10/6 16:14
Renoncer
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Joined: 2010/6/26
Posts: 477


 Re: Butters

Butters,

You wrote, "If I (and probably most folks that visit this forum) were judged by their standards then I would be on my way to hell, simply for not being holy or righteous enough".

Could you give examples (i.e., specific quotes from early church fathers), and explain exactly how you fail these standards? I would like you to be specific if possible. Now, of course, we understand that it is not our righteousness, but Christ's righteousness that get us into heaven. However, I am interested to know what you are referring to.

In Christ,
Renoncer

 2011/10/6 16:43Profile
dietolive
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Joined: 2007/6/29
Posts: 342


 Re:

Dear Butters,

You wrote:
"While I agree that a right fear of the Lord is necessary, I often get the sense that for many of these early Fathers (and I have read their works) that for them, salvation meant walking a tightrope of strict morals
while God (metaphorically speaking) holds a gun to your back. One slip and your out (if you don't believe me just read works such as the Shepherd of Hermas, or Tertullian's views on there being no forgiveness for certain pots-baptismal sins)."

Certainly, the "Fathers" were just men; they were not perfectly inspired. However, in general, we should take their writings in the context of their day, if we are to properly appreciate them. They appear very strict to us, but realize what they were up against:

They encountered a constant influx of Greek and Eastern heresies that required constant attention. They lived under a constant military occupation/police-state. Their property could be stolen from them by the State at any time.

Added to this, they lived in the midst of an unspeakably wicked culture and society.

At times they faced the daily prospect of waking up in the morning and not knowing whether they would be alive by sundown.

In many ways, the world they lived in was very different than the one we live in, (but that is changing...) So, while I can't vouch for every single thing the Church Fathers said, I believe their general word to us, and the spirit of their message to us today is a great blessing and is of inestimable value to the Church today.

 2011/10/6 17:27Profile
ginnyrose
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Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7428
Mississippi

 Re: The Early Church on the Fear Of The Lord

Thanks for posting this, Greg.

I have witnessed the downfall of people who substituted the word fear for love, believing you cannot love something you are scared of. They embarked on a path of apostasy because God is love and he would not expect people to do this or that or whatever....after all, we are living in a different era! If this is to be believed one must assume the Holy Spirit retired and went back to heaven and left us to fend for ourselves!

BTW, if one looks up the word fear in Strong's it does define it as "being scared of."

Yes, one can love something you fear. It may begin with fear but will with time evolve into love. Much like a teen's attitude towards his parents...

God bless...


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Sandra Miller

 2011/10/6 21:03Profile
dietolive
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Joined: 2007/6/29
Posts: 342


 Re:

Great points ginnyrose

You wrote:

"BTW, if one looks up the word fear in Strong's it does define it as "being scared of."

Yes, one can love something you fear. It may begin with fear but will with time evolve into love. Much like a teen's attitude towards his parents..."

I was teaching my children firearm safety the other day. I told them "You need to fear it, if you break its law, it will kill you..." One said to me, "Like God, Dad, right?" And I thought... well, yes.

God is serious. God is deadly. Our God is deadly serious. This is not only in the Old testament:

"For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God!" Deuteronomy 4:24

but also in the New:

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:28-29

"Our God is a consuming fire." If you break his law he will kill you!

It is just that context that makes the Gospel, and being safe in the Saviour, such an incredible wonder and joy and consolation.

Be well,
Doug

 2011/10/6 21:22Profile
sermonindex
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"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

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 Re:

Quote:
While I agree that a right fear of the Lord is necessary, I often get the sense that for many of these early Fathers (and I have read their works) that for them, salvation meant walking a tightrope of strict morals
while God (metaphorically speaking) holds a gun to your back. One slip and your out (if you don't believe me just read works such as the Shepherd of Hermas, or Tertullian's views on there being no forgiveness for certain pots-baptismal sins).

We should fear the Lord. However, if it is the kind of fear in the same way that one would fear a grumpy, strict, unforgiving school master then I'm not sure I could also love a God like that.



God is love. Yet also He is holy and to be feared. Modern evangelicals have forgotten this and have lost the true character of God. This is proved by the very low view of sin in the church and world. Oh that the fear of the Lord would come back to the Church.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2011/10/6 23:15Profile
menderofnets
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Joined: 2008/9/26
Posts: 73
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 Re:

I love God because of what He has done for an undeserving sinner as myself.

I fear Him because I recognise that without Him I can do nothing (John 15:5), not even keep myself in His salvation, for which I rely on the Holy Spirit to quicken, reveal, convict and guide.


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Jamie Adam

 2011/10/6 23:26Profile





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