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Triumphing Over Sinful Fear (Puritan Treasures for Today) Paperback – June 6, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

One of the great biblical principles which our Reformed and Puritan forefathers lived by may be summed up in these words: It is always better to suffer than to sin. This excellent book by John Flavel, now reissued in up-to-date style, gives solid reasons why every believer in Christ must seek to correct his fear of man by reminding himself of the need to fear God far more. God's covenant faithfulness will always sustain the Christian. Here is a summons to every child of God to live daily in the fear of the Lord and with a good conscience so as to appear with joy before the Great Judge at the last. --Maurice Roberts

About the Author

John Flavel (1628 1691) was an English Puritan minister in the thriving seaport of Dartmouth. His complete works have been reprinted in six volumes by Banner of Truth Trust.
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Product Details

  • Series: Puritan Treasures for Today
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books (June 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601781326
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601781321
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 4.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
John Flavel (d. 1691), an English Puritan, was a careful student of Scripture, a solid Christian, and a pastor who cared about Christ's flock. In this little book on fear, Flavel writes as a pastor to Christians who are struggling with fear and anxiety. From a firmly biblical perspective, he counsels the Christian through this difficult reality that all of us face from time to time: being afraid.

His outline is like this (following an introduction): 1) Types of Fear (natural fear, sinful fear, and godly fear), 2) God's Uses of These Types of Fear (restrain sin, punishment, and the Christian's good), 3) Causes of Sinful Fear (ignorance, guilt, unbelief, confusion, immoderation, and Satan), 4) Effects of Sinful Fear (distraction, deception, vulnerability, cowardice, apostasy, and bondage), and 5) Remedies for Sinful Fear (study the covenant of grace, consider the misery of sinful fear, prepare for future suffering, commit yourself to God, mortify your love of the world, imitate faithful Christians, confirm your interest in Christ, keep your conscience pure, record the examples of God's faithfulness, consider Christ's kingdom, let faith triumph over sinful reason, and grow in the fear of God). After these chapters there is a short section where Flavel answers objections.

As you can tell from the extended outline of the book, this is not speculative philosophy - nor is it nauseating self-help advice. In each of these points and subpoints, Flavel grounds his discussion in Scripture. I appreciated how his descriptions of sinful fear were convicting and his methods for fighting sinful fear were refreshingly gospel centered and steeped in Scripture. I came away from this book knowing more about my own sinful fear, the Word, and the gospel.
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Format: Paperback
This is easily the most important book that I have read out of the last one hundred. It is deeply convicting, full of Christ, and loaded with sound pastoral wisdom on a vital, yet neglected topic. This work distinguishes between "the fear of the Lord" and sinful fear that results from unbelief. In essence, the fear of the Lord is the single and great remedy to all forms of sinful fear.
It is noteworthy that Flavel began by introducing a third category of "natural" fear. Some people are more fearful by disposition, and there are forms of "natural" fear that are not inherently sinful. Even Christ was subject to "natural" fear as He contemplated the cross (8). "Natural" fear of punishment is also necessary in order to uphold civil order (21). After establishing the parameters of the question, Flavel set forth the causes of sinful fear (chapter 4), its effects (chapter 5), its remedies (chapter 6), followed by answers to some objections (chapter 7).
At root, the author argued that ignorance of the provisions of the covenant of grace was the primary cause of sinful fear (31). The corollary to this is unbelief in God's promises (35). As a result, "carnal fear is the very root of apostasy" (56). From this point on, Flavel turned his primary attention to sinful fear that results from persecution. Even good people may be overwhelmed and fall in such circumstances (68). He sought to counter this temptation through a series of useful meditations such as the following: "To trust in God in part and the creature in part is to put one foot upon the rock and the other on quicksand" (83). "No death is more honorable to God or comfortable to you as a violent death for Christ" (89). "An assured Christian is never a coward in suffering" (94).
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It is sad that this is not required reading for every pastoral candidate! There is no work that I have found that so clearly and compassionately guides us through this issue. This is no "read once and forget" book - it needs to be read and re-read until the reader's heart begins to change. One of the most powerful books for the education and encouragement of believers I have found!
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In 1682, John Flavel published his work, A Practical Treatise of Fear. Almost 330 years later, the fear continues to plague people. The simple fact is this: There are two kinds of people in the world - people who admit the battle with fear and those who don't. For the people who fess up, Flavel's writing is of tremendous help.

Reformation Heritage Books is a very helpful ministry that is devoted to reintroducing the writing ministry of the Puritans to an age that is increasingly tied to technology and postmodernism. This title is appropriately retitled, Triumphing Over Sinful Fear and comes highly recommended.

John Flavel is quick to remind readers that the ultimate remedy for fear is a healthy fear of God. This kind of fear is defines as "a gracious habit or principle planted by God in the soul, whereby the soul is kept under a holy awe of the eye of God, and from thence is inclined to perform and do what pleases him, and to shun and avoid whatever he forbids and hates."

Flavel draws a sharp contrast between the carnal man who "fears man, not God" and the godly person who "fears God, not man." He adds, "The weak Christian fears man too much and God too little."

Flavel continues, "There is a fear which is the effect of sin. It springs from guilt and hurries the soul into more guilt. There is a fear which is the effect of grace. It springs from our love for God and His interest and drives the soul to Him in the way of duty. The less fear a person has, the more happiness he has - unless, of course, it is that fear which is his happiness and excellency."

So in a few words, the Puritan divine sets himself in opposition to the world that has invented a multitude of explanations for fear.
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