Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org.

Dear Roger,

I recently became a Christian and I have a question. The woman who led me to Christ encouraged me to start reading my Bible immediately. She told me not to start at the beginning and try to read it all from start to finish. She recommended that I start with the Gospels and also read some from Psalms and Proverbs every day. My question is that I keep coming across the term, "the fear of the Lord," as I read Psalms and Proverbs. My friend told me that God is a God of love who loved me enough to give His life for me. She told me that I could love Him back with all my heart. She never told me anything about being afraid of Him. What is going on here?

Sincerely, Britney

Dear Britney,

Most people who come to Christ do so because the one who led them to Christ focused mostly, if not completely, on the love of God (Read John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only son … ").

Some others come to Christ out of fear. I trusted Christ because I was afraid of going to Hell. I was seven-years-old when God spoke to me about my need to have a Savior to save me from my sins. I was sitting in church when the preacher talked about how people who die without Christ are in danger of going to Hell. This scared the daylights out of me. However, he also talked about Jesus’ parable of the shepherd who left his ninety-nine sheep to seek the one lost sheep. I realized that I was that lost sheep and Jesus was searching for me--because He loved me.

In the beginning of our Christian lives we must balance our love for God with our fear of God. It is not a paradox to say that we can love God and can be afraid of Him, too. I loved my parents and I never doubted they loved me. But, when I needed discipline I was afraid of mom or dad as they were coming down the hall!

Too many Christians want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a “Grandfather in Heaven” – a senile benevolence who, as they say, “liked to see young people enjoying themselves” and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all.”

That is not at all the God of the Bible.

It is OK to begin our Christian lives experiencing the “fear of the Lord.” When you read the Bible you will discover that everytime someone in the Bible sees God, it scares the daylights out of them.

In Isaiah 6 the prophet fell face down to the ground in terror when he got a glimpse of God in the sanctuary.

In Matthew 14:22-33 the Disciples were afraid of Jesus when He unleashed a bit of His Deity and stopped the storm on the Sea of Galilee.

In Luke 5:1-11 Peter fell down on his knees in the boat after Jesus supernaturally told him where to find fish. He said to Jesus, "Depart from me; I am a sinful man."

In John 18:1-9 Jesus showed off just a little of His glory in the Garden and the soldiers who had come to arrest Him all fell down in terror.

A little fear of God can go a long way in keeping most of us travelling the Christian life on the right path.

I remember a story that illustrates well the effectiveness of a little of the right kind of fear.

A schoolteacher injured his back and had to wear a plaster cast around the upper part of his body. It fit under his shirt and wasn’t noticeable at all.

On the first day of the term, still with the cast under his shirt, he found himself assigned to the toughest students in school. Walking confidently into the rowdy classroom, he opened the window as wide as possible and then busied himself with desk work.

When a strong breeze made his tie flap, he took the desk stapler and stapled the tie to his chest. He had no trouble with discipline that term.

Solomon wrote Proverb 9:10  “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The fear of the Lord is the beginning; it is not the end of wisdom.

John wrote 1 John 4:18  "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

We may begin with a fear of God and what He can do to us if He so desires. But, recognize that this fear is just the beginning. It is not the end.

God's intention is that over time His perfect love will drive out any fears that we might still have of Him.

Let me share a story that illustrates this principle of perfect love casting out fear:

During the Revolutionary War, a young officer in the British Army, before sailing to America to fight, became engaged to a young lady in England.

In one of the battles of the officer was badly wounded and lost a leg. He wrote to his fiancé, telling her how he was disfigured and maimed, and so changed from what had been when she had last seen him that he felt it his duty to release her from all obligation to become his wife.

The young lady wrote an answer. In her letter she said that whether or not they married had nothing whatsoever to do with had happened to him in battle.

She wrote, “I intend to marry you as long as there is enough left of your body to hold your soul!

Can you imagine that her declaration of perfect love drove away all of his fears of a life lost alone.

Now, Let's Look At The "Fear Of The Lord" From A Different Perspective.

The “Fear of the Lord” sounds like a negative thing. But, according to the Word of God, "the fear of the Lord" is a term that describes a life style better than we can ever imagine.

"The Fear of the Lord" is the lifestyle we all really want. It beats all the options.

Britney, as you read the following verses you will see that the fear of the Lord is not all what it sounds like on first blush. If you choose the "Fear of the Lord" lifestyle, here is what your life will look like.

A Life Lived With Knowledge And Wisdom

Proverb 2:6-7: For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

A Life Of Goodness and Rightness

Proverb 14:16: A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.

A Life Of Security and Protection

Proverb 14:26: He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.

Potential For A Longer Life Than Normal

Proverb 10:27: The fear of the LORD adds length to life,

Security For One's Family

Proverb 14:26: He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.

A Life Of Satisfaction And Peace

Proverb 14:27: The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.

A Life Full Of Contentment

Proverb 19:23: The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

For me, so much of the Fear of the Lord resolves around the idea of contentment as mentioned in the last verse above. Like you, like me, and like every one else, my life is full of twists and turns. Some are delightful; some are threatening and painful. Living the "Fear of the Lord" lifestyle has allowed God to pour in the power of Jesus Christ to handle any situation that comes into my life

One of my favorite pictures of contentment is, "Contentment is a small kitten following a leaky cow.”

I am the kitten. The "Fear of the Lord" lifestyle is the leaky cow.

Britney, I hope that my answer has given to you some extra help in living well your new life in Christ.

Love, Roger

Ask RogerDr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.

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