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Fear Can Be . . . Good? 

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Philippians 2:12b

It’s easy to see how this verse could be confusing. You might be thinking, What do you mean “with fear and trembling”? The Bible says that God is love, and there is no fear in love.

You’re right! That’s what 1 John 4:18 says, and on this basis, a lot of people will reject any notion that fear can be good. But Paul wrote the above verse in his letter to the Philippians and is known as the apostle of grace and a huge proponent of the love of God (1 Cor. 13). I don’t think that he was contradicting his other letters when he wrote this one or that he was suggesting you should pick and choose which parts of his letters to believe. Can you imagine Paul saying, “If something I wrote doesn’t agree with your theology, just rip that part out of your Bible and believe what you want”? I sure can’t.

So, what does Philippians 2:12 mean? Well, it doesn’t mean you should be afraid of God! You can have fear in your relationship with God without being afraid of Him. After doing a double take, you might ask, “How does
that work?”

A lot of scriptures explain this, but what God has been speaking to me lately is from Proverbs 9:10, which says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

The word “fear” in that verse can also mean “reverence” (Strong’s Concordance). What helped me understand the fear of the Lord is understanding that it’s humility toward God. Andrew talks about the correlation between fear and humility in his book Proverbs: Timeless Wisdom for a Life of Blessing:

“Part of fearing the Lord is hating pride, hating self-promotion, hating doing our own thing. We love God and would rather live for God than live for ourselves. Most people would love to have honor. They would love to have trophies and have people acclaim all the things that are happening in their lives, but they don’t want to humble themselves. Outside of the Lord, there are people in this world who are promoted and who receive honor from others that doesn’t come through humility.” (p. 376)

Look at this verse:

“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life.”

Proverbs 22:4

Riches and honor and life sound good to me. I believe this is part of what Paul was talking about in Philippians 2:12 when he used the word soteria, translated “salvation.” Salvation is everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), and life and godliness come through walking humbly with God (Mic. 6:8).

Humility does not mean to think little of yourself. It means that you agree with what God thinks about you. Andrew says:

“True humility is not having an opinion of yourself. It means you don’t promote or debase yourself. If God says you are the meekest person on the face of the earth, then you’d say it, too, because you don’t care what people think. You aren’t trying to promote yourself nor are you trying to debase yourself. You aren’t self-centered. You aren’t focused on yourself.” (p. 297)

I believe this explains Philippians 2:12. This is how fear can be good, and it’s what I’ve been striving to walk out in my life. To walk in humility toward God, you have to see yourself the way that He sees you.

What do you think? How do you work out your salvation with fear and trembling? Please share in the comments below. And watch Andrew on the Gospel Truth broadcast, where he’s teaching from the book of Proverbs throughout the year.

Written by David Moore II

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Fear of Missing Out

 I used to be preoccupied with finding God’s will for my life. Don’t get me wrong; desiring God’s will is not a bad thing. But my heart so badly wanted everything God had for me that this obsession morphed into a fear of missing His will. Being a planner and a left-brained, analytical thinker did not help either. Andrew’s teaching How to Find, Follow, and Fulfill God’s Will quickly became my favorite audio series. And as I’ve lived a little more life and have taken steps in the right direction, I’ve found everything in this teaching to be spot on.

If we really desire God’s will for our lives, we won’t miss it. How can I be so confident about this? Well, because desiring God’s perfect will is ultimately tied to wanting a close relationship with Him. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Right there is a promise that He will make Himself known to us if we seek Him with all our hearts. That includes making known His specific plans for us.

One way we can seek His will is through devouring the Word of God. Andrew puts it this way in his book How to Find, Follow, and Fulfill God’s Will:

“I can’t over-emphasize how essential the Word of God is in discovering our spiritual identity and finding God’s will for our lives. . . . The Bible isn’t just another book; it is quick—which means alive—and powerful. It reveals things to us that we could never figure out on our own.” (p. 79)

God transforms you from the inside out when you pursue Him with all your heart. He will put His desires in your heart (Ps. 37:4), and then He will fulfill them. Romans 12:1-2 is the core Scripture passage Andrew uses in this teaching:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

When you read God’s Word, you are aligning your soul and spirit to be receptive to His voice. And when you’re receptive to His voice, you will know when you are following God’s plan for your life. You won’t have to worry about missing God.

But what about when His will for our lives isn’t coming to pass when we think it should? Those delays can sometimes cause us to think we’ve missed God. Moses fell into that trap himself and delayed God’s plan by forty years! However, it was only a delay; it didn’t change God’s will for his life and the lives of the Israelite slaves.

Andrew goes on to explain: “God’s will for your life involves His timing. You can’t just take a Word from God, make a paragraph out of it, and do whatever you want to. God’s plans can’t be sped up. You can delay God’s plan—Moses delayed it 40 years—but you can’t make it happen any quicker than it’s supposed to” (p. 117).

God has a purpose for you! And He wants you to know that purpose more than you do. Andrew’s book How to Find, Follow, and Fulfill God’s Will lays out your part and God’s part in walking that out. Don’t be worried about it like I was. Just take a deep breath and dig into the Word.

You won’t miss it.

Written by Aria Fischer

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What Were You Born to Do?

Have you ever met someone and thought, You are doing exactly what you were born to do? I know I have. Then I wonder, Am I doing what I was born to do? and, How do I know for sure? 

I believe all of us ask ourselves these questions at some point in our lives. Is God’s will for us just a guessing game? Is it something we’ll happen to stumble upon accidentally? Or, is it something we can know for certain and even something we need to purposefully pursue?

In Andrew’s teaching, How to Find, Follow, and Fulfill God’s Will, he proves through Scripture that God has a specific and perfect plan for each of us, He wants us to know what that plan is, and it’s up to us to find it. That sounds like God is putting a lot of pressure on us, right? Well, He’s not really.

What’s the one thing God wants from His people more than anything else? A relationship! As Andrew discusses, it’s through this relationship that we can know God’s will for our lives.

Romans 12:1-2 says to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Andrew explains, “The general will that God has for everyone is to be a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God. . . . There is a good and then an acceptable and then a perfect will of God. . . . It’s step by step by step; you have to begin. . . . The first step is that you have to become a living sacrifice. . . . You need to quit running and controlling your own life and instead turn it over to the Lord.”

It’s encouraging to know, as Andrew states, that God “wants you. He wants fellowship with you. He wants relationship with you. That’s what God’s will for your life is.” As you surrender yourself to God and diligently seek Him, He’ll begin to reveal His purpose to you.

However, once we discover His will, that’s not the end of the story; now we have to walk it out. One of the hardest parts about following God’s will is moving in His timing. Moses tried to bring God’s will to pass when he moved in his own strength and killed an Egyptian (Ex. 2:11-12 and Acts 7:24-28). Attempting to rush God’s timing actually set Moses back thirty years (Gen. 15:13 and Ex. 12:41)!

Following and fulfilling God’s will is a lifelong pursuit. Many Christians stop seeking God once they know His will, thinking they can then take matters into their own hands. But God wants us chasing after Him all the time. As we do, He’ll reveal more and more of His specific plans for our lives, and the timing will always be perfect.

Finding God’s plan for your life isn’t a secret, but you will have to search for it like the precious treasure that it is. It’s worth it because there’s no better place to be than in the center of God’s perfect will. When you walk in the truths that Andrew explains in How to Find, Follow, and Fulfill God’s Will, others will then say of you, “You’re someone who’s doing exactly what you were born to do!”

Written by Renée Gray-Wilburn

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