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A Generation without Fear

September 1999 | by Kent Philpott

When you kill others and then kill yourself it is plain you have no fear of God. The idea that all accountability can be avoided by suicide reveals there is no knowledge of a holy and just God who can cast both body and soul into hell (Matthew 10:28).

The two teenagers in Colorado who, a few months back, killed fifteen of their classmates, and then themselves, are part of a generation that has little fear of God. How has this come about? It is an unconverted generation, largely untouched by the gospel.

The parents of this ‘lost generation’, by and large, rejected God and his church, embraced a creator-less universe, and pursued the good life. Thus they did not know the gospel and were ignorant of the Scripture. Or, if they did, they somehow rejected it. The parents did not raise up their children to fear, love and honour God. The result is predictable; in the Colorado instance, two boys will wake up at the judgement to answer for their crime before a righteous God.

Sophistication

Mill Valley, California, is filled with people like this — these are the people among whom I minister. They consider themselves spiritual (though not religious, of course) and pride themselves on how open and tolerant they are. These ‘qualities’ are considered the hallmarks of sophistication here.

The very idea of ‘fearing’ God provokes only derision. Their post-modern god is neither to be feared nor honoured for, like a spiritual chameleon, he becomes whatever they want him/her to be. The lost generation knows no fear of God. Their god, if there is one, accommodates himself or herself to whatever happens to be the prevailing trends. The consequences of such confusion extend far beyond the ideas themselves.

Flooding in Kerala
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No hope

The Colorado teenage killers also had no hope in their lives. No fear of God and no hope for the future — the two are joined and form a deadly combination. The kids were constantly hammered with portrayals of social, political and environmental doom. The living hope that is in Jesus was not part of their life. Their future was foreboding at best, with its promise of pollution, racism, war, AIDS, Hepatitis C, global warming, population explosion and the rest. Who would want to live for long in such a dreadful world?

The Sunday following the Colorado tragedy, I preached on the fear of God and the believer’s wonderful future. ‘The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom’ (Proverbs 1:7). ‘Blessed are all those who fear the Lord’ (Psalm 128:1). ‘The Lord delights in those who fear Him’ (Psalm 147:11). ‘The fear of the Lord leads to life’ (Proverbs: 19:23). These Bible passages show that we are wise to fear God.

Powerful truths

Believers have been born anew to a living hope in Jesus Christ, a hope that will neither fade nor disappoint. ‘In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:3-4). These are powerful and precious truths. This is the message we preach and we must preach it boldly. Though the unbelieving world will mock and ignore such preaching, yet it is God’s truth, and in it are life, hope and salvation.