Perfect and Fearful

by Tammy on December 23, 2017

I began reading The Holiness of God by Sproul last night since it arrived in the mail yesterday, and in the opening chapter he highlights an experience he had with God. On this particular day, he arose from his college dormitory bed and nearly midnight and went to the college chapel, where he encountered the fear and the peace of the Lord in the same night. It was because of a decision he made about his course of study that led him there. He changed his major from Bible to philosophy after his philosophy teacher taught about Augustine’s philosophical leanings. Sproul became a decent philosopher in his own right, but more than anything I walked away from that chapter with a thought; “God is perfectly fearful and fearfully perfect.” His holiness makes Him both fearful and perfect, and these attributes modify and enhance each other.

As I read his description of being a prayerful position on the floor of that chapel and feeling the fear of God, for a split second I could imagine the fear of seeing God. Quite honestly, I am not sure I’ve ever truly experienced a feeling of fear when thinking about being in God’s presence. After all, it is easier, or at least more pleasant, to focus on the God of love who sent His son to die for the sins of man. But God is not simply love. If He were, then Jesus’ death would have been unnecessary because He could have just turned a blind eye to sin. No, God is also a just and holy God and, just as a just judge demands payment of wrongdoing, so too does God. He cannot simply overlook sin, and we cannot simply overlook the price God paid in sending Jesus as our substitute. We can focus on God’s love and ignore His holiness all we want, but in the end, that will not save us. We must acknowledge all of His attributes, and that includes the not-so-pleasant justice and holiness that makes Him who He is. The Scriptures do not gloss these attributes over, and neither should we, because doing so is an injustice to those who want, and indeed NEED, to know the truth.

I pray that we will always remember just how perfectly fearful and how fearfully perfect God is.

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