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Triumphing Over Sinful Fear (Puritan Treasures for Today) Paperback – June 6, 2011
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From the Inside Flap
Interest in the Puritans continues to grow, but many people find reading these giants of the faith a bit unnerving. This series seeks to overcome that barrier by presenting Puritan books that are convenient in size and unintimidating in length. Each book is carefully edited with modern readers in mind, smoothing out difficult language of a bygone era while retaining the meaning of the original authors. Books for the series are thoughtfully selected to provide some of the best counsel on important subjects that people continue to wrestle with today."
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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).Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Have not gotten to this one yet, but knowing the Author's other works, I know I will not be disappointed.Published 6 months ago by Monte Jones
I need to give this book to those who are afraid to talk to people about the Gospel. After reading this, the boot in the pants should lift them out of their easy chair. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
Timeless; thoughtful in that he recognizes there are medical/physiological reasons for some suffers (meaning he did not attribute all causal factors as behavioral) which is... Read morePublished on March 23, 2014 by Ken Hubbard