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Andy Bustanoby
(C) September 20, 2009

     Should we be afraid of God?  

     Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not 
     only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-- 
     continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 
     for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to
     his good purpose (Phil. 2:12-13).

   Let me say at the outset that salvation is not achieved by our good works 
   (Eph. 2:8-9).  Nor is the Christian walk achieved by trying hard to live 
   like a Christian.  Our walk as a Christian is not by our effort.  It is 
   the result of faith in Christ, the faithful guide living in us (Gal. 2:20).

   The Apostle Paul was a great spiritual help to the Philippians.  But now, 
   in his absence, he writes this letter.  The Philippians must realize that 
   Paul, a mere man, is no longer there to lead them spiritually.  Yes, they 
   obeyed in his presence, but now obedience is being pressed upon them by 
   none other than GOD!

   They should continue to work out their salvation--live the Christian life. 
   But now with God energizing them to will and do His good pleasure, they 
   are faced with the prospect of FEAR AND TREMBLING.

   Does this mean that we should be AFRAID of God?  Yes, but with a clear 
   understanding that it is because God may ask us to do things that a man 
   could never ask us to do.  The Apostle Peter is a good example.

   Peter and the disciples were out on the Sea of Galilee, struggling with 
   their oars against the wind and high sea.  Suddenly, Jesus appeared to 
   them walking on the water.  Peter, sure it was Jesus, called out to Him.  
   He wanted to join Jesus walking on the water.  Jesus said, “Come,” and 
   Peter began to walk on the water.  But when he looked at the wind tossed 
   waves he became terrified and began to sink.

   Jesus saved him, heaved him into the boat and rebuked him:  “You of little 
   faith--why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14:25-31).

   Here’s a good example of a believer, following the command of God, and yet 
   seized with fear and trembling!  But it is essential that we see that 
   Peter was not rebuked for fear and trembling.  That was a natural human 
   reaction.  He was rebuked BECAUSE HE DOUBTED GOD.  Peter took his eyes off 
   of Jesus, the object of his faith, and looked at the storming waves.  

   When God energizes us to will and to do His good pleasure, such as 
   walking on water, we certainly will be seized with fear and trembling.  
   This is what Paul is saying in Philippians 2.

   Paul is saying, It is not I, a man like you, asking to do something that 
   men are expected to do.  I am not with you now.  It is GOD you are now 
   expected to obey. 

   The point I wish to make is that Peter’s failure was not FEAR AND 
   TREMBLING.  That’s part of the Christian life when God says, Come--walk on 
   the water.  Peter’s failure was taking his eyes off of Jesus and looking 
   at the terrifying waves about him.  Jesus didn’t rebuke Peter for being 
   afraid!  He rebuked Peter for a failure of faith--why did you DOUBT?

   Has God invited you to walk on water--that scary place that makes you fear 
   and tremble?  My friend, I urge you to accept the fear and trembling as a 
   normal part of Christian experience.  Just don’t take your eyes off of 

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