"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love"-1 John 4:18
There are two kinds of fear. There is a terrible fear, a fear of some horrible thing happening to us. Then, there is also a reverential fear, a proper fear, a respectful fear tempered with knowledge with an eye upon someone or something that will mete out justice for offences.
To further illustrate these two kinds of fear we might compare September, 11th of last year to the terrible fear. This kind of fear 'torments' the soul. When we think of our heavenly father, John would not have us think this way. Our God is loving, caring and He does not torment His children. He loves them with an everlasting love and though He may chasten them as a father would his son(Hebrews 12:5), it is always for their good. It is this kind of fear that Solomon referred to when he wrote: "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom"(Proverbs 9:10), and he also said, "The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge(Proverbs 1:7)". Here is the balance, the harmonizing of scripture. Reverential fear is healthy and one of the greatest evidences of son-ship: to know that we belong to our Father. It is evidence proper that we are interested in pleasing Him, evidence that we love Him and evidence that we believe that He exists.
This brings us to a beautiful thought concerning a very real fear, the fear of hell. It always reminds me of the story of the little boy who could not sleep because he was afraid, afraid that if he died in his sleep he would go to hell. After sobbing on his pillow for what seemed to be hours, he went into his mother's bedroom to confess his fears. Usually a happy child, the mother was shocked to see her baby in such a sad state. "What is wrong with you", was her immediate response. The tearstained reply was "I'm afraid if I die in my sleep I will go to hell." As the mother, too, began to weep, the child knew only too well his sin was known to all, even to his mother, and she way crying over his hopeless estate. "She knows it too", were his little thoughts, "she knows I deserve nothing less than hell. I have been mean to my brother, I have not obeyed my parents as I should." Though his sins were small compared to the atrocities of the world, the quickened heart had been made tender by God's grace. He had little to compare his faults with, he just knew he was a sinner. But he had to ask his mother for the final sentence, "Why are you crying mom?" To his utter surprise, the most joyful news came from her mouth……something unexpected….. "If you were not a child of God, you would not be worried about it", was the reply. EVIDENCE!! Suddenly, the tormenting fear was gone as he carefully examined the evidence: "Why would I think myself to be a sinner if God had not shown me. Why would He show me if He did not love me. Why would I feel this way if I were not in God's family?" Peace was given by the Prince of Peace. Even a child can understand God's grace. It takes adults to put a price on it, add some ceremonies to it and make it complicated.
There is "no fear" in perfect love. It is the gospel that calms the tormented heart and the fear of hell. That is why it is called the "good news" and "glad tidings of good things". Jesus has risen from the grave and conquered death. He has redeemed His people with His own blood. They now belong to Him and none can pluck them from His hands. Christian, is your love perfect? If it is then death has lost its sting and the future is not so fearful. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool"-Isaiah 1:18.