Principle for Bible Reading
Do you fear God? The Bible seems to be confusing about fear. In some places, God calls us to live in fear. Elsewhere, he says he’s delivered us from fear. In this lab, John Piper focuses on 1 Peter 1:17–19, but pulls in lots of verses to help us understand what it means for us to fear God.
God Calls Us to Fear (02:27–04:03)
- Peter says very clearly to these Christians, “Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1 Peter 1:17). But isn’t the Christian free from fear in Christ?
- The truly Christian life will be motivated in some way by fear.
- The fear comes from knowing that God will judge everyone impartially according to their own works. (1 Peter 1:17)
God Rescues Us from Fear (04:03–06:28)
- The command to fear in 1 Peter 1:17, though, comes between two glorious statements that should take away fear for believers.
- The God who judges impartially is a Father to us (1 Peter 1:17). And everything so far in 1 Peter has said that this Father treats us with great mercy and secures us forever.
- Then, in 1 Peter 1:18–19, Peter says that these believers were ransomed with the blood of Christ, meaning they no longer had to fear.
God Will Judge All (06:28–11:39)
- What does it mean for God to judge impartially each according to his works? (1 Peter 1:17)
- Fear unbelief, and let that fear drive you to faith. (Romans 11:20)
- Work out your salvation with fear, for God is working in you. (Philippians 2:12–13)
- All will stand before the judgment seat, and therefore we all should fear. (2 Corinthians 5:10–11)
- In Romans 2:6–7, rendering to each according to his needs means giving those who have some good works (giving evidence for their faith) with eternal life.
- When Jesus returns, he will repay each according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27)
- Paul warned professing believers that those who continued in sin would be excluded from the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
- We are called to pursue the holiness “without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
The Fear of God (11:39–15:51)
- Fear ever treating the ransom God paid for you as trash.
- If cozying up with the sins for which Jesus died is tempting to you, run with all your might in the other direction. Do not let yourself be found in bed with the very things that cost the Son his life.
- Illustration #1: A daughter ransomed by her father.
- Illustration #2: A child playing with a big dog.
- What is the main point of 1 Peter 1:17–19 (look for the main verb)? Why might that command seem strange in light of the immediate context in these three verses?
- Read Philippians 2:12–13, 2 Corinthians 5:10–11, Romans 2:6–7, and Hebrews 12:14. How do these other passages help us understand what Peter means in 1 Peter 1:17–19?
- Based on these verses, and any others that come to mind, how would you explain what it means for a believer to fear God? Can you think of any illustrations you might use?
Piper: “For the sake of your soul, don’t be found in bed with the very things that cost Jesus his life.”