1:7 Wise Fear

Charles Simeon trembled to take the Lord's Supper without repentance.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

Many of the people we admire as great historical Christians went through severe distress before their conversions, fearing God and his judgment. Perhaps best known of these was Martin Luther, whose agonies have been well documented. But David Brainerd, George Whitefield, John Wesley, Charles Simeon, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon and dozens of others might also be cited as examples. Perhaps God permitted them such anguish of soul that he might awaken in them a desire to rescue others from spiritual danger.

Charles Simeon’s dread fell upon him when he learned he was absolutely required to take communion at Cambridge. He knew that anyone who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks damnation to himself. Many of the godless students did so without regard to their spiritual danger. Simeon quaked at the thought. “Conscience told me that, if I must go, I must repent and turn to God.” That act of repentance was the beginning of a walk with the Lord that led him by degrees to become a zealous college chaplain who captured the souls of many of England’s upper class students.

Jesus exemplified the fear of the Lord more than any person who has ever lived. Absolutely determined to obey God with his whole heart, he refused to cut a single corner or escape a single detail God had planned for him. He accepted hunger, thirst, rejection, cold, and even a cruel death rather than defy God by so much as a thoughtless word.

Among his notable sayings was this, “Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: fear Him who, after the killing of the body has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I say, fear Him.”

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