Fear is an idea that we rarely look at in a positive light. So it’s no surprise that we often shy away from the topic of the “fear of the Lord.” But that doesn’t stop Michael Reeves from tackling this topic in this fantastic book. In Rejoice and Tremble, we learn how the fear of God is the answer to all other fears. At the beginning of the book, he unpacks the difference between sinful fear and godly fear. Sinful fear drives us away from God because we fear accountability and judgment. Godly fear is the overwhelming response of experiencing God, not only as a powerful Creator but a beautiful Redeemer. Godly fear does not drive us away, but to God because of how overwhelmingly good he is. It goes beyond what we often call “reverential awe.” It causes us to tremble with ecstatic joy at how powerful, awe-inspiring, merciful, and gloriously gracious God is.
Reeves unpacks how the rise of fear and anxiety in our culture is the result of a lack of godly fear. Not only has this led to moral collapse, but it’s also at the core of many of our mental and physical health issues. He sights studies that have shown how the more a person experiences a sense of “awe” the more symptoms of PTSD and other stress-related issues decrease and how happiness, satisfaction with life, and social well-being all increase. The ultimate source of this sense of wonder is found in knowing God as a loving Father. The more we center our lives around this certain, fundamental truth the more at peace we find ourselves in the uncertainty of this world.
Towards the end of the book, we learn how we can grow in this godly fear. But as Reeves is quick to point out that godly fear is not something we can follow 5 simple steps to achieve. The answer is not found in ourselves but the cross of Christ. He goes on to explain and unpack how “the fear of God is the heartbeat of our new life in Christ and ‘the soul of godliness.’” It’s an internal matter of our heart that is captured by the beauty and grace of what Christ accomplished on the cross. We were made to know God in such a way that our hearts tremble at his beauty and splendor. No checklist or list of action steps can produce this heart. Only the Holy Spirit can do this in our heart and he uses his sword, the Word of God to produce such change. To quote John Owens, (who Reeves quotes often) “holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the gospel in our souls.” It’s the fear of the Lord that makes us joyful, holy, and alive in our faith. This book releases January 15th. You can get your copy here.
I was given a digital copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.