Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Banner of Truth Conference 2018 Slot 8


This was a walk through John Bunyan's Treatise on the fear of God shortly to be published by the Banner with a foreword by Mike Reeves, our speaker. It is also available here as an ebook.
These quotations from the book might give you the flavour.

There is, I say, several sorts or kinds of fear in the hearts of the sons of men, I mean besides that fear of God that is intended in the text, and that accompanieth eternal life. I shall here make mention of three of them. FIRST. There is a fear of God that flows even from the light of nature. SECOND. There is a fear of God that flows from some of his dispensations to men, which yet is neither universal nor saving. THIRD. There is a fear of God in the heart of some men that is good and godly, but doth not for ever abide so.


Quest. 1. Do not these fears make thee question whether there was ever a work of grace wrought in thy soul? Answ. Yes, verily, that they do. Quest. 2. Do not these fears make thee question whether ever thy first fears were wrought by the Holy Spirit of God? Answ. Yes, verily, that they do. Quest. 3. Do not these fears make thee question whether ever thou hast had, indeed, any true comfort from the Word and Spirit of God? Answ. Yes, verily, that they do. Quest. 4. Dost thou not find intermixed with these fears plain assertions that thy first comforts were either from thy fancy, or from the devil, and a fruit of his delusions? Answ. Yes, verily, that I do. Quest. 5. Do not these fears weaken thy heart in prayer? Answ. Yes, that they do. Quest. 6. Do not these fears keep thee back from laying hold of the promise of salvation by Jesus Christ? Answ. Yes; for I think if I were deceived before, if I were comforted by a spirit of delusion before, why may it not be so again? so I am afraid to take hold of the promise. Quest. 7. Do not these fears tend to the hardening of thy heart, and to the making of thee desperate? Answ. Yes, verily, that they do. Quest. 8. Do not these fears hinder thee from profiting in hearing or reading of the Word? Answ. Yes, verily, for still whatever I hear or read, I think nothing that is good belongs to me. Quest. 9. Do not these fears tend to the stirring up of blasphemies in thy heart against God? Answ. Yes, to the almost distracting of me. Quest. 10. Do not these fears make thee sometimes think, that it is in vain for thee to wait upon the Lord any longer? Answ. Yes, verily; and I have many times almost come to this conclusion, that I will read, pray, hear, company with God's people, or the like, no longer. Well, poor Christian, I am glad that thou hast so plainly answered me; but, prithee, look back upon thy answer. How much of God dost thou think is in these things? how much of his Spirit, and the grace of his Word? Just none at all; for it cannot be that these things can be the true and natural effects of the workings of the Spirit of God: no, not as a spirit of bondage. These are not his doings. Dost thou not see the very paw of the devil in them; yea, in every one of thy ten confessions?

This godly fear floweth from faith; for where the Word maketh a sound impression on the soul, by that impression is faith begotten, whence also this fear doth flow. Therefore right hearing of the Word is called "the hearing of faith" (Gal 3:2). Hence it is said again, "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith" (Heb 11:7). The Word, the warning that he had from God of things not seen as yet, wrought, through faith therein, that fear of God in his heart that made him prepare against unseen dangers, and that he might be an inheritor of unseen happiness. Where, therefore, there is not faith in the Word of God, there can be none of this fear; and where the Word doth not make sound impression on the soul, there can be none of this faith. So that as vices hang together, and have the links of a chain, dependence one upon another, even so the graces of the Spirit also are the fruits of one another, and have such dependence on each other, that the one cannot be without the other. No faith, no fear of God; devil's faith, devil's fear; saint's faith, saint's fear.

... where the Word doth not make sound impression on the soul, there can be none of this faith. So that as vices hang together, and have the links of a chain, dependence one upon another, even so the graces of the Spirit also are the fruits of one another, and have such dependence on each other, that the one cannot be without the other. No faith, no fear of God; devil's faith, devil's fear; saint's faith, saint's fear.

Fear and love
Mike reminded us that love is shaped by its object. Eg love for your dog, wife, God. Fear of God helps us clarify our love for God.
How can we grow in our fear of God? It comes from growing in our knowledge of God's Word. An encounter with God will increase our knowledge of him and ourselves. We will grow in our awe of him and our horror at ourselves. Bunyan says

For if God shall come to you indeed, and visit you with the forgiveness of sins, that visit removeth the guilt, but increaseth the sense of thy filth, and the sense of this that God hath forgiven a filthy sinner, will make thee both rejoice and tremble. O, the blessed confusion that will then cover thy face whilst thou, even thou, so vile a wretch, shalt stand before God to receive at his hand thy pardon, and so the firstfruits of thy eternal salvation ....

Fear and joy
See Psalm 2, etc. Saints take pleasure and delight in fearing God. Our enjoyment of God is again shaped by the object. Examples here - coffee, God.

How is the fear of God so life savingly useful and important for the minister?
Proverbs 1:7. You do not know God or yourself if you do not know him. Fear of God leads us to want to know him more. This makes us keen to press on therefore. It shapes our learning. Not puffing up.
He referred to Thielicke's A little exercise for young theologians and the idea of theological puberty adn the need to get beyond it.
We were reminded  - all your abilities are a liability. It is not talent that God so much blesses as the fear of God (M'Cheyne).

At the end our speaker reminded us that

The fear of God purifies us
The fear of God makes us large hearted
The fear of God will make us humble
The fear of God will give us strength to pursue a righteous but unpopular cause


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