Numbers can certainly tell a story.  I learned that from working with multi-million dollar resource pools and budgets while in the U.S. Air Force.  If one placed emphasis in the correct areas, a point could be reinforced or a weakness identified.  I am going to use this same concept with the Bible’s use of the words “fear” and “love.”  I tell you this up front so that you will know and make your own determination of what it all means…

Old Testament references to fear nearly double the New Testament references at 234 to 131.  Old Testament references to love are only one third the New Testament references at 75 to 219.  What conclusions can be drawn from these numbers?  On the face of it, it would seem that fear was a more important (or appropriate) in God’s plan in the Old Testament than in the New Testament.  And likewise the importance of love seems to have gained prominence over fear in the New Testament. 

What does that mean to us in understanding God?  Well, first we need to remember there is a place and time for both of these in a proper balance.  Fear can be a motivator to bring us to the realization that we need God but I don’t believe the bible teaches we should fear God in a dread sort of way.  James tells us that if we draw near to God He will draw near to us.  How many of us are interested in becoming close to something we dread or are terrified of.  Our God is a God of reconciliation (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18) and His desire is to restore the relationship He had with us when He created us.  That has been made possible by love.  His love for us and our love for Him because of what He has done for us.  After all “We love Him because He first loved us!” 1 John 4:19… 

Do the numbers tell the story?  They do for me.  But as I said before, with emphasis on the right areas you can get them to tell a different story.  And many are doing just that today in teaching a “gospel” based on fear alone, but we must never forget that “God is love,” and has provided for us based on that.  To God be all Glory!

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments