Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Book Review: Joy of Fearing God

The Joy of Fearing God. Jerry Bridges. 1998/2004. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The joy of fearing God? It sounds like a contradiction in terms. One of the first times I used the expression, my listener (a Christian leader) gave a puzzled look and responded, "That's an interesting combination of words." I suspect he was being polite as he really thought, "How can anyone enjoy fear? And more to the point, how can you enjoy fearing God? Christianity means a relationship with God--but how can you have a relationship with someone you fear?"

The Joy of Fearing God by Jerry Bridges is one of my all-time favorite books. I read it years before I started blogging or reviewing. I've been meaning to reread it for years now. It did not disappoint. I still love, love, love it.

The book is divided into three parts: "What Is This Fear?" "The God We Fear," and "Responding To Our Awesome God."

The first section tackles some big questions: what does it mean to fear God? how is the fear of the Lord different from other types of fear? is there a right way and a wrong way to fear God? should Christians fear God?

The second section focuses on some of God's attributes. It is important to KNOW God. How can you worship a God you don't know?!

The third and final section focuses on WORSHIP and glorifying God. Bridges looks at the connection--the link--between fearing God and enjoying God.


  • It is the fear of the Lord that should determine our fundamental outlook on life. Our main goal in life should be to glorify God. The is the ultimate goal to which all knowledge should be directed. Regardless of how helpful an item or body of knowledge may be to society, if it does not have as its final purpose the glory of God, it remains defective. It is at best partial and to a degree distorted. It is like a structure without a foundation, a plant without a root. (3)
  • People who fear God can use their knowledge both to glorify God and enjoy Him. (4)
  • Taking refuge in God is one expression or outworking of fearing Him. (9)
  • A profound sense of awe toward God is undoubtedly the dominant element in the attitude or set of emotions that the Bible calls the fear of God. (18)
  • The Bible often links a lack of the fear of God with sinful conduct (21)
  • The fear of God is the soul of godliness. ~ John Murray (25)
  • Filial fear is that indefinable mixture of reverence, fear, pleasure, joy, and awe which fills our hearts when we realize who God is and what He has done for us. ~ Sinclair Ferguson (27)
  • We cannot separate trust in God from the fear of God. We will trust Him only to the extent that we genuinely stand in awe of Him. (48)
  • Everything about God is fitted to fill our minds with awe and supreme veneration. (59)
  • Had sin never entered the world it still would be fitting for us to fear God--to bow in reverential awe before HIm. We would gladly join in the seraphs in calling out, "holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." But sin did enter the world--and because of His holiness, God now reveals Himself as the hater of sin and the just punisher of sinners. But He also reveals Himself in the person of His Son as a merciful and gracious Savior. Our awe of His holiness can be joined with amazement at His love. (75)
  • There should be a healthy tension between the confidence with which we come before God as HIs children and the reverential awe with which we behold Him as our sovereign Lord. (99)
  • Grace is God's favor through Christ to people who deserve His wrath... God's grace addresses not only our lack of merit, but our positive demerit. It is blessing bestowed in the presence of demerit. (107)
  • To live under Christ's authority necessarily means to live under the authority of His Word. I read a sermon in which the speaker said we're to live in obedience to Jesus Christ, not to Scripture. This, however, is drawing a false and unwarranted distinction between Christ and His Word. How can I obey anyone in authority over. me if I do not have that person's instructions or commands? In the matter of authority we cannot separate a person from his or her words. Christ has spoken to us through the Bible. The only way I can live in obedience to Him is to live in obedience to His Word as given to us in Scripture. It is not "bibliolatry" to place the authority of Scripture on par with the authority of Christ. (138)
  • A major characteristic of one who fears God is obedience to Him. (155)
  • Obedience is the fruit of the tree of which the fear of God is the root. We cannot rightly obey God if we do not fear Him--if we do not honor, reverence, and love Him. (157)
  • To fear God by obeying Him means that we seek to follow all of His commands for us. We must not pick and choose or seek to reinterpret some of the them. (161)
  • To love your neighbor as yourself means to treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated. Love may sometimes mean more than that, but it certainly never means less. (165)
  • We never obey God with all our heart and soul and mind, and we never perfectly love our neighbor as ourselves...This is why we must learn to live under the gospel every day. The gospel is not just for unbelievers; it is for believers also, because we are still sinners. (169)
  • We must always be accepted for Christ's sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only "when we believe." It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on His "blood and righteousness" alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place, or that can take a place along with Him. We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace. ~ B.B. Warfield (169)
  • A God-fearing person should be the same at all times, knowing we live every moment of our lives in His presence. We need to establish the habit, though, of constantly being aware of this fact. (178)
  • The person who fears God seeks to live all of life to the glory of God. (213)
  • Glorifying God will often cost us something...We don't lose our lives all at once, however. We lose them over a lifetime, in individual decisions as we choose whether to glorify God or to satisfy our own desires. (221)
  • To attempt to worship God in only the narrow sense of praising Him without seeking to worship Him in our whole way of life is hypocrisy. (233)
  • The fear of God and the worship of Him feed each other. The more we fear God--bowing before Him in reverential awe--the more we'll be compelled to worship Him. But it's also true that spending time worshiping Him will stimulate and increase our fear of God. (239)
  • Music and liturgy can assist or express a worshiping heart, but they cannot make a non-worshiping heart into a worshiping one. The danger is that they can give a non-worshiping heart the sense of having worshiped. So the crucial factor in worship in the church is not the form of worship, but the state of the hearts of the saints. If our corporate worship isn't the expression of our individual worshiping lives, it is unacceptable. If you think you can live anyway you want and then go to church on Sunday morning and turn on worship with the saints, you're wrong. ~ John MacArthur (240)
  • You grow in the fear of the Lord by gazing upon the beauty of His attributes and by seeking an ever-deepening relationship with HIm....To enjoy God is to enjoy the fear of God. (255)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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