Puritan reformed theological Seminary l Vol. 8 • No. 1
PRTS P d a t e
Afraid of God? Why Should We Be?
And he [Adam] said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid,
because I was naked; and I hid myself. — Genesis 3:10
Secular humanists have a negative view of religion because they think it is born of fear. Primitive man, so the
theory goes, was terrified by thunderstorms, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural phenomena, and ascribed
supernatural and divine powers to them. Many gods were invented whose wrath needed to be appeased and favor
curried by offering costly — even human — sacrifices.
Because it was fear that caused man to invent gods and goddesses, religion, both in its primitive and advanced
form, affects the human psyche negatively. Even Christianity, which represents the best and highest form of
religion so far on the evolutionary scale, poses a threat to man’s psychological and emotional well-being. To the
degree that it still plays on people’s fears, it is to be rejected because those fears are based on superstition and
credulity rather than on objective facts. Therefore, if religion is to survive in this modern era, it must stop using
scare-tactics that create guilt feelings and negative thoughts. What today’s stressed and hurting people need to
hear is a message of love, acceptance, and hope that builds self-esteem. So taught Rober Schuller and so teaches
Joel Osteen and other “positive thinking” and “health and wealth” preachers today.
All this is, of course, contrary to Scripture. The Bible frequently speaks of the fear of God. Sometimes the
reference is to fear in the sense of reverence and respect. But the word “fear of God” can also mean being afraid
of God. The two are not mutually exclusive. What is in view here is fear in the latter sense. Had man remained
sinless, there would not have been any reason to be afraid of God. Fear in the sense of dread would have been
abnormal and unnecessary. But Adam and Eve had every reason to be afraid of God after they had sinned. Just
as pain is the signal that warns us when something is wrong with us physically, so fear is the signal that there is
something wrong with us spiritually. Since the Fall, it is normal for the conscience to send danger signals to tell
us that something has gone awry with our relationship with God. To receive no signal in the form of fear and
apprehension in our present condition as sinners is abnormal and dangerous. As long as fallen man is capable of
experiencing fear, there is hope for him because this shows he has not yet been abandoned by God. His troubled
conscience witnesses to the fact that sin has come between him and his Maker (Isa. 59:2).
“Who told thee that thou wast naked?” the Lord asked Adam who was trembling with fear. “Hast thou eaten
of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” (Gen. 3:11). Here we have the true expla-
nation of the origin of fear. Adam ate of the forbidden fruit and we in him. Today man has made great strides
in his efforts to suppress the guilt feelings arising from his involvement in the first sin. Our modern media and
entertainment industry provide endless distractions so man can at least temporarily forget not just his daily
work, family, or health-related problems, but also his far more urgent problem, namely, his sin that exposes him
to the wrath of God.
Have you faced this problem yet? Did you ever feel the impulse to turn the TV, DVD, or CD player off or
put your novel down because suddenly there came a sense of fear over you, an awareness that things were not
right between you and God? “I have sinned against God and His holy law,” you realized; a sense of guilt came
rushing upon you, forcing the question to your lips: are my sins forgiven? If not, how can I meet God? What
must I do to be saved?
The answer is: Repent, and ask God to forgive your sins for Jesus’ sake. This may sound too simplistic for
some people. Surely, more is required to get right with God! So they try to bring their sacrifices, hoping to appease
God and earn His favor. But Scripture says only to repent and believe the gospel.
That gospel was already revealed in Genesis 3. The same God who asked Adam where he was hiding, why he
was so afraid, and who had told him he was naked, informed him and his wife that He would send His Son into
the world via Eve to destroy Satan and bring man back to himself (Gen. 3:15). It would take a perfect sacrifice to
appease His wrath and to restore man to favor with their offended Creator. To illustrate the need for this sacrifice,
the Lord took off the aprons of fig leaves our first parents had made for themselves, clothed them with coats of
animal skins (Gen. 3:21), and sent them away (Gen. 3:21, 23). Yes, they were expelled from the Garden, but not
until they had first heard the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
With the promise of a coming Savior ringing in their ears and hidden in their hearts, they entered a world
that had become a wilderness because of their sin. This promise sustained and comforted them in the vale of tears
through which they now had to pass. Whatever trials and tribulations they would encounter on their long pilgrim-
age to heaven, the Lord would keep them in His care and allay whatever fears would beset them along the way.
He does the same for all who fear His wrath which they deserve, but also His goodness which they do not
Puritan reSource center
deserve but adore because it leads them to repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Hos.
3:5; Rom. 2:4; Acts 20:21). They learn to say with David, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Ps. 56:3);
“I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears”(Ps. 34:4).
Neil (Cornelis) Pronk is a part-time lecturer at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, an emeritus minister in the
Free Reformed Church, editor of The Messenger, and a prolific writer.
The Puritan Resource Center is home to several thousand articles dealing
with Puritan studies in Europe and North America. These articles were a gift to the seminary from the
late Dr. Benjamin Boerkoel, and cover English and New England Puritans: their lives, writings, be-
liefs, society, historical context, influence, political environment, and theology. Until a few weeks ago,
these materials were largely inaccessible because there was no easy way to search the contents. Now
the library is pleased to present the Puritan Studies Index, an online tool for searching these articles. This
database is located on the Puritan seminary website: http://www.puritanseminary.org/library/articles/.
We anticipate expanding this collection greatly in the coming months through frequent additions.
Search the online Index, then stop by the seminary to browse or research aspects of Puritanism for
yourself! Below are some helpful hints to using the Puritan Studies Index and accessing this collection:
How do I search? How do I find the article in the Puritan
The Simple search is best for single words or Resource Center?
phrases (“Jonathan Edwards” or “sermons,” for The articles are located in the filing cabinets in
example). the PRC and arranged alphabetically by author
The Advanced Search is best for multiple key- and then by title; they can be photocopied.
words or specific field searching (author, title,
etc.). For example: “children” and “education” Are any of these articles available full-text online?
or “Westminster Theological Journal.” Advanced Certain articles in this file may be found online
Search also offers the option to select a particular utilizing a search engine such as Google Scholar. In
material type, such as a book review, book chap- many cases, however, the full text of such articles
ter, or journal article. There are some articles in may be accessed using the subscription databases
German and Dutch, and the Advanced Search available to PRTS faculty and students. Re-
gives you the option to select materials in a par- searchers may request a PDF copy of articles by
ticular language. emailing: email@example.com.
You can save results, print them, and, in the
near future, you will be able to export results to a — Laura Mustafa, Librarian
bibliographic manager like RefWorks.
Rev. David Kranendonk (M.Div., 2003)
Where are you presently laboring?
I am privileged to serve the Free Reformed church of
Bornholm, Ontario. Bornholm is a rural hamlet with a
grand total of one stop sign. The congregation of around
alumnuS inter view
100 members is spread out, coming from as far as an hour
north, an hour south, 45 minutes west, and 10 minutes
east. This poses challenges, but we are thankful that in
other respects the congregation is close.
The Kranendonk family
Can you share with us something about your family since you
left seminary to the present day? Have you been studying anything in particular, aside from
Since graduating, my wife, Ellie, and I have received five your regular exegetical studies? Can you recommend any good
children: Simon, Ruth, Elnathan, Leah, and Thomas. books or articles you’ve read recently?
My wife has begun homeschooling the oldest two. Since Under the Theologische Universiteit Apeldoorn in the
schools in the area do not teach consistent with Scripture, Netherlands, I am studying Paul Baynes’s pastoral treat-
most of the children in the congregation are homeschooled. ment of predestination. A very thought-provoking book I
read recently and discussed for several months with Pas-
What encouragements have you received in your labors? tors Joel Overduin and Henry VanEssen was Herman
An encouragement that others may take for granted is Friedrich Kohlbrugge’s paraphrase of Romans 7.
that the congregation continues to gather faithfully.
When I began ministering the thought arose: “How Are you able to find likeminded Reformed or Calvinistic
will they continue listening to a preacher like me for brethren in your area with whom you can fellowship?
any length of time?” It is a blessing to realize preaching With two other Free Reformed ministers within walk-
isn’t about me but the Word, and to see the congregation ing distance, my town has the highest concentration
continue to gather to hear that Word brought with weak- of Free Reformed ministers in the world! We try to
ness. More encouraging yet is to see or hear evidence of meet monthly for discussion, book study, and prayer.
God’s blessing on that Word. Most encouraging of all is Through a homeschool group, I also have some contact
to see who the ever-blessed triune God of glory is. with other Reformed ministers.
What kinds of challenges have you faced? Do you attend any pastors’ conferences to recharge and re-
Every aspect of the ministry has its own challenges. Lately, inspire you?
a specific challenge has been how to balance the various Quite a few years have passed since attending a Banner
responsibilities within the home, congregation, as well as a of Truth conference. I do attend a denominational pas-
number of organizations and committees, such as Bonisa tor’s retreat annually, which is refreshing, challenging,
Mission, which works in China (www.bonisa.org). and encouraging.
What have you found the most challenging? What are you and/or your congregation doing in terms of
Myself. My ignorance, my dullness, my self-centeredness, evangelistic outreach to the community? What discourage-
my sin, my pride. ments, lessons, or encouragements have you experienced?
Recently I was requested to give some lectures on Evan-
What kinds of things learned in seminary have you found
gelism in Serbia for Come Over and Help (www.coah.
most helpful now that you are in the ministry?
org). My first reaction was: they have much more to teach
The very nature of a seminary education is that many
us than we have to teach them. We have an evangelism
small lessons from day to day serve to shape and prepare
committee which organizes “meditations” in some local
for the ministry. Since preaching is the main activity in
nursing homes as well as a summer Vacation Bible School.
ministry, I continue to benefit from the training I re-
A more unique project is a table at a local year-round farm-
ceived in the area of exegesis and homiletics. At the same
ers’ market where we have books available for purchase
time, I feel I have much more to (re)learn!
and are able to hand out Bibles, tracts, bookmarks, etc.
What have you been preaching in recently? What commentar-
Share one or two fond memories you have of your days at
ies have you found most helpful?
Some weeks ago, I finished a series on the first seven
My fondest memories are of sitting in exegesis classes
chapters of 1 Samuel. Serving a Reformed church, I fol-
when the precious Word of God was being expounded
low a church calendar and also preach God’s Word using
and the force of it was coming alive. Sometimes I re-
the Heidelberg Catechism as its summary. Recently, in-
member texts that were handled and go back to my notes.
stead of the Catechism, I finished a series on the Canons
Those notes fail to capture what really took place in some
of Dort, which I much enjoyed for its depth of God-
of those classes. God’s Word is living and powerful.
glorifying doctrine and richness of pastoral counsel.
dr. Joel Beeke Puritan reformed theological Seminary
February 25 – 27: Portland, Oregon: speaking for Philadelphia
Conference of Reformed Theology (PCRT) Financial RepoRt
March 18 –19: Grand Rapids: PCRT For period 8/1/10 – 12 /31/10
March 20: Chatham, Ontario: FRC
April 1–3: Greenville, South Carolina: PCRT
April 8 –10: Kingsport, Tennessee: Westminster Presbyterian Year to Date Year to Date
Church Conference Income Actual Budget Variance
April 29 –30: Philadelphia: PCRT HRC Church
May 12–13: Grand Rapids: URC Ministerial Conference Collections $ 51,436 82,123 (30,687)
May 14 –16: Scotland: Scottish Reformed Conference FRC Support 91,759 77,478 (14,281)
May 24 – 26: Grantham, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Conference Other Donations 330,062 314,699 (15,363)
dr. gerald Bilkes Tuition 112,025 83,331 28,694)
April 13: Hull, Iowa: HRC Office-bearers’ Conference Scholarships 131,682 91,662 (40,020)
Other 39,918 26,148 13,770)
Dr. David Murray
Total Income $ 756,881 $ 675,441 $ 81,440)
February 18 –19: Burgessville, Ontario: Teachers’ Conference
March 4 –5: Hudsonville, Michigan: Institute for Reformed Bibli- Expenses
cal Counseling Instruction $ 260,967 277,566 (16,599)
March 25 –26: Jordan, Ontario: God’s Technology Seminars Scholarships 108,965 91,662 17,303)
March 27: Ontario: Hamilton FRC and Bornholm FRC Administrative 340,947 313,115 27,832)
April 22–24: Burlington, Ontario: Trinity Baptist Church Total Expenses $ 710,878 $ 682,343 $ 28,535)
May 12–13: Grand Rapids: URC Ministerial Conference
May 22: Ontario: London FRC
Net Income $ 46,003 $ (6,902) $ 52,905)
May 24 – 26: Ontario: HRC Young People’s Spring Retreat
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