Fostering a Heart that Trembles at God's Word

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by jd.morrison, Oct 19, 2011.

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  1. jd.morrison

    jd.morrison Puritan Board Sophomore

    Two things:
    I have been teaching a Bible Study using Jeremiah Burroughs' book, "Gospel Fear".

    1.) I have been trying to get a better understanding of what it is to Fear God, and to Fear and Tremble at His Word. Class is going great, and we are having great instruction and discussion time. However, one of the guys in my study group is convinced that in a Post New Testament world that Love is emphasized more than fear which is associated with the Old Testament. Wanting to avoid a discussion on Dispensationalism, or Ignorance Concerning OT's Relationship to the NT and its importance for the Christian, am I correct in the following:

    To fear God and tremble before his Word means and is caused by the following:
    1. To truly be terrified, fearful, and to tremble before Him and His Word.
    2. That trembling soul sees that it is the Word of God. He sees God in it.
    3. He sees the abundance of the glory, the majesty, the greatness, the excellency of God that Shines in His Word.
    4. It sees a most dreadful authority in the Word of God.
    5. A gracious heart trembles at God's Word because it sees an infinite justice in the Word of God.
    6. A gracious heart sees the Word of the Lord backed with infinite power.
    7. It sees the luster of God's holiness and, being conscious to itself of impurity, that makes it to tremble.
    8. The glorious, high, and divine mysteries that are revealed in God's Word that make a heart tremble.
    9. The soul trembles at the Word because it sees that the Word Casts all men regarding their eternal estate.
    10. The heart trembles because the Word searches "the inward and secret parts of the heart"
    11. The heart trembles because it sees truth in the Word when it speaks of the Great Day.

    Most of these are either taken from the book "Gospel Fear" or are paraphrased from my understanding of what Burroughs is stating.

    Where it speaks of Dread, it truly speaks of dread, from what I understand of what scripture speaks. However it is not a hopeless dread, it is a dread and fear that causes us to cling to Christ all the more. It is the reprobate who have a hopeless fear.

    So am I and Burroughs correct, scripturally speaking, and if I am how can I clearly and authoritatively communicate this?

    2.) I have been trying to find resources to better understand this. In His Word, I am using Isaiah 66:1-6, and 2 Kings 22:19, as well as selections from Psalms and Proverbs. I am using the "Gospel Fear" book, as well as Calvin's commentary on Kings and Isaiah. And I am using this "Trembling at the Word"

    Is there any other Reformed or Puritan who discusses this? Even better, how about an Early Church Father?
  2. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I think the best approach would be to find New Testament Scripture references which affirm the continuing duty to fear God and tremble in his presence. Here are a few: 2 Cor. 7:1, Eph. 5:21, Heb. 12:28.
  3. nwink

    nwink Puritan Board Sophomore

    Continuing on Austin's train of thought, you could mention Matthew 10:28: "And 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." And then you can point out that this verse is part of Jesus' instruction to the twelve.
  4. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    It entails a reverential respect for God, recognizing Him as God, and includes an awareness that that he sees all we say, do, and think. Mr. Burroughs, however, breaks it down quite well.

    I think that, if we were more aware of God as God, we'd probably have a little more godly fear.
  5. LeeD

    LeeD Puritan Board Freshman

  6. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    My question is where is the balance between holy fear of God and the love God has for His children? We are to approach the throne of grace boldly because of the work of Christ. Shouldn't there be a balance between these two ideas of holy fear/reverence and the love of God for His own?
  7. jd.morrison

    jd.morrison Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is true. In discussing this with my pastor, he said that while the Puritans can be praised for many things, one of the things that the later Puritans did wrong was that they over emphasized the Fear of God so much so that it pushed Grace, Mercy, and Love out of the picture.

    However, while that is the case in a general way, Burroughs in his sermons contained in the book "Gospel Fear" does well to make sure that the hearer or the reader does not fall into the extreme of isolating one of the commands of God over and against the others, as well as one attribute over and against another.

    Burroughs strives quite hard to point out that a gracious heart that has a trembling and fearful disposition of heart towards God's Word, in fear loves God and His Word, and in fear find joy in God and His Word.

    I highly recommend the book. High Marks.
  8. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    An interesting exercise might be to compare Burroughs with Burroughs. Here, from his Exposition on Hosea 3:5 (p. 197):

    Burroughs then summarizes,

    Of course, that doesn't do justice to his line of reasoning, when you condense it that way without his supporting evidences and such, but there you have one additional place to turn, in exploring some of your questions.

    Also see page 425,

    Obs. 2. "It is a great evil not to fear the Lord."

    and page 431,

    Obs. 1. "That those that fear God least, are most afraid of every thing else."
  9. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This says a lot. Could one say, "Those who fear God the most are those fear nothing else."?
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