Are you fearful of God?
Are you basing your acceptance with God on personal performance?
A lady wrote to Got Questions asking why she was fearful of God. She grew up in a Pentecostal church, believes the Gospel, loves God, but is afraid of Him. Her quandary is neither uncommon nor surprising in a church where personal performance is the basis for acceptance with God.
The church today, with its many denominations and doctrines, is what it is. While the true Gospel has been hijacked by charlatans, Charismatics and Pentecostals have added their own unique mix of doctrinal error while claiming to have a corner on truth and holiness. They do not.
I have experienced these churches first-hand and know their impact on innocent souls searching for truth. While it is truly appalling, it should not be surprising because Jesus revealed to John the Revelator that most churches would "in the end time" fall from faith (Revelation 2 and 3), and herein their indefensible, woeful shame.
One reason people fear God is because they do not know Him or have been deceived about who He is; that is, they trust church leadership to discern truth from error not realizing they follow blind guides (Matthew 15:14). I was in such a church for a short time and witnessed pastors and teachers twisting Scripture to such an extent they transformed what God did for believers into what believers can do for God. This is legalism and it always leads to fear (Galatians 1:6-9).
God desires for his children to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24), possessing a peaceful spirit. (Galatians 5:22). A heart full of faith has no room for fear. This is the experience God has for us.
While I agree in principle with the Pentecostal desire to obey and know and experience Jesus, the Bible does not support their approach. Simply put, Charismatics and Pentecostals seek to experience the Spirit of Christ before getting to know the Spirit of Christ (John 17:3). It has not always been this way for the Pentecostals, but is now for many in this denomination.
The Bible is clear about the need to grow up to know Christ (1 Peter 2:2-3). When we know Him, all fear will be cast aside. In fact, the Apostle John wrote, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has to do with punishment. He that fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18).
Fear is that dreaded backlash of not living up to the high standards of God. The Pentecostals (and other denominations) portray God as a heavy-handed taskmaster demanding perfect obedience and woe to anyone failing to live up to this high standard of Christian conduct. This is not the God I know!
A few years ago I personally dealt with one Pentecostal preacher in several emails about his fear mongering. He believes one's righteousness is based on pure obedience to all the word of God. While there is truth in what he says, he does not seem to understand that our righteousness is in Christ, imputed to believers by faith (2 Corinthians 5:21). He sees salvation and righteousness as something you work to keep through perfect obedience. If true, then why do we need Jesus?
Although I used this example of a wayward pastor in another article, it bears repeating. In one of his blogs this particular Pentecostal pastor said, "If you steal your tithe dollars to spend on yourself, the Spirit will use the rod on you." Is this what the Bible teaches in the age of grace?
He spoke a monstrous falsehood by twisting scripture to say what it does not in light of the gospel of grace. This minister went on to say using Malachi 3:8, "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings." Another minister, cut from the same cloth, said nearly the same but took it a step further by saying that those who do not tithe are thieves and that according to 1 Corinthians 6:10 would lose their salvation.
These two ministers preached another gospel and appear categorically unmindful of a believer's standing before God in faith (Colossians 1:22). Because they do not know the love of God, they cannot preach the grace of God (1 John 3:1)?
These two Pentecostal preachers and others of like-mindedness unknowingly practice legalism and miss the entirety of what the Bible teaches about what belongs to whom and when. Although God desired ten-percent of one's wealth under Old Testament Law, now under grace He desires "all" of the believer's heart. God values the heart of the believer more highly than any earthly treasure including the tithe. If the value God places on the heart were not true, then for whom did Jesus die?
When God possesses the heart of a believer, tithes and offerings and obedience are never an issue again.
In closing and as part of my answer to this troubled lady I said, "When you realize the only thing God desires from you is all of your heart, then all fear will vanish when you give it to Him." A heart filled with the presence of Christ has no room for fear (John 14:27).
Image Credit: Jim Allen
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Church-Issues | Theological-Beliefs
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