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The Choice to Fear God
June 28, 2015
With Martha Kilpatrick and hosted by John Enslow
Special Guest: Jennifer Wentzel
This is the continuation of a series of Podcasts started in Episode #445.
(M) And it’s so essential to have Him do that work and to respond. And on down here in Proverbs it says, “You did not choose the fear of God.” It’s a choice. It’s always a… Even to fear Him is a choice. I’m not afraid of Him in the sense that He’s going to toss me aside. That’s not what I’m talking about. I just know Him. And the more I know Him, the more absolutely terrifying He is. I’m glad I’m in the palm of His hand, because I see those who aren’t, and I see the terrible consequences. And He tells us clearly. He doesn’t hide His terribleness from us. He tells us clearly, and then He tells us as He did here about you, “If you turn and repent, and give heed;” That’s receive. Heed mean take it in and get it, “to my reproof, behold, I, wisdom, will pour out my spirit upon you.” I’m praying, I’ve been praying for years for the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days. And what I need to pray for adding to it is the repentance of the Spirit and that preparation for accepting the reproof, because without repentance there will be no outpouring of the Spirit. “And then I will make my words known to you.” In other words, “I’ll have an intimate conversation with you, and I’ll speak to you My words.” So in that one verse, it’s the entirety of the human challenge and the human salvation. “Turn to My reproof.”
(Jennifer) No, that is, it’s brilliant, really, the way He set it up, because He gave us free will as a gift. And so, in some respects, it is ours to activate. That’s how it’s relationship with Him and not just ‘puppet master.’
(Jennifer) You know what I mean? Because I have free will, it is a relationship. It is a give and take, and the more I know Him as God and not just an idea of God, yes, the more I fear Him in the sense that He is awesomely huge. And the more He speaks to you personally and uses life, I… Here’s an example just as we are talking here. I said, “Oh, You know when it comes to obedience, I think I… Lord, that’s Your word to me, that parable that You gave me, which is both humiliation and Your reassurance.” And only God could do both at the same time. Only God can make a humiliation reassuring. And I said, but I can’t remember. Oh, I’m so sorry. It’s straight out of my head. Where is it? Where am I going to look that up? And I literally opened my Bible right to it. I literally, it, the Bible just opened to it. It’s the parable of the two sons, the vineyard. And Jesus is, actually He’s talking to the Pharisees at this point, and He says, “And what do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘My son, go work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I don’t want to,’ yet later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to other,” the other son, “and said the same thing. ‘I will, Sir,’ he answered, but he didn’t go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” And it was reassurance because I was kind of flipping out that so often my initial response is, “I don’t want to. I don’t want to do that. I hate that. That’s not fun for my life,” like just pitiful, just horrible, wretched, you know.
(Martha) But then you do it.
(Jennifer) Right, and that’s the reason it’s humiliation because no, I can never say to somebody, “Oh, I just, you know, I love Him. I’ve always loved Him, and when He tells me to do something, it is my divine privilege to do so.” That’s not my story, and it’s fine. And so, on one hand it keeps me humble, because I’m not… It’s kind of a humiliating parable, a little bit, you know, because when I go, “I don’t want to” and, but he did the will because ultimately what we want to do can inform our choice, but we can override whether or not we want to do something. And to me that is the brilliance of that’s the work. He says the only work we have, our only work, is to believe. But believe is such a huge, deep active… There’s nothing passive about believing. It’s not a mental assent.
(Martha) That’s it, right there.
(Jennifer) It’s not mental. It’s not, “Oh, I believe you, Jesus. I believe.” And for a long time I really thought that it all seemed kind of, you know, easy. But the believing thing… Carole, when you were talking about obedience, to obey, I always used to think of obedience in terms of children and their parents. And that’s fine. That’s fine as far as it goes. It’s very elementary understanding, but I was kind of stuck in that belief because of course if you have a kid that says, “No, I don’t want to,” and stamps her feet and pitches a fit, you’re probably going to get spanked. I did. And, you know, cause that’s not acceptable. It’s not an acceptable response, you know. You’re gonna get switched. And so, I took that in my relationship with God and said, so ok, if the cross comes, if He says, “Alright, you need to let this go now. We’re done with this. I’m taking your ‘woobie.’ This ‘woobie’ is going. We’re going.” “Well… I don’t want to,” you know. So in my mind, even if I did eventually do it, I was still disobedient. Do you understand? Because I had that very elementary, human understanding of obedience. And it’s just, it’s funny because I have a much deeper understanding, and I really preferred this definition, which may be everybody else in the world, but… Obedience is to receive the Word of God, to hear what He says to you, and to choose to make it your reality. What takes place in between that, that’s between you and God. And you may have Him give you a parable that’s equal parts reassuring and humiliating to let you know how He feels in terms of whether or not you’re doing His will. And that parable is both. The one son isn’t covered in glory. He doesn’t get to say, “I obeyed immediately, and look at me. I’m so wonderful.” But he did do the will of the father, and he went to work in the vineyard. He did the work His father asked him to do. That’s the whole point. You don’t just say, “Ok.,” and then don’t do the work God asks you to do. So it’s not a mental assent. So that parable is actually incredibly deep. So you can’t just say, “Ok, God, absolutely. I’ll do that, thank You, I believe You. I repent. All done.” That’s not doing the work God asked you to do because you haven’t made it your reality.
(Jennifer) You’re skimming across the surface with a superficial, mental assent. There’s nothing real about that. So if you’re like me, and you kind of first let God know all the reasons why this isn’t something that you really want to do, and you want to make sure He knows if you do this, it’s going to be unpleasant for you, and it’s going to be a sacrifice, and you hope that He knows that. I’m not saying I’m that bad all the time, but there have definitely been times that I’m like, “Awww, it cost’s so much,” you know. I’m just a brat. But if I take that word and make the choice and move on it and believe that it’s Him that’s telling me to do it and believe that this is in fact what my life is supposed to look like now, that becomes my new reality. That is obedience. So, if I just say something and then carry on like normal, that’s not obedience; then I’m the second son who’s like, “Absolutely, yes I will,” and was not considered to do the will at all, because he didn’t actually to and do the work.
(J) Martha was making an example of it where basically she said it’s like going and reading a book on cross-fit or aerobics or whatever and then believing that you’re fit.
(Martha) Yeah, I read the book; I’m fit.
(J) So it’s done. So I’ve said, “Oh, yes I’ll do it,” and then you think it’s done. “I’m fit.” No, you’re not.
(Martha) This is the difference between mental assent and heart involvement? Mental assent won’t do it.
(Jennifer) Mental assent absolutely won’t do it. The will gets involved to override what we think about what it is. One son said, “I don’t want to.” That’s what he thought about it. “I don’t really want to go to work in the vineyard.” Ok? When the Lord called me to quit smoking, that’s not a perfect example because part of me very much did want to quit smoking, and the other part of me very much did not. And so for me it was… “I really don’t want to do this, ok, but I’m going to do this because You’re asking me to do this, and I’m trusting that that means it’s going to be wonderful, because You are and You said You had good plans for my life, ok.” But that was a whole lot more than mental assent. Mental assent would have been, “Yes, I’ll quit smoking,” and I quit smoking for three days and then pick it back up. I mean, to me that’s the same thing. If you mentally assent to, you know, I have an issue with authority so how I’m going to deal with it and this is from my own life, from my own testimony. I had a massive authority issue. And for two and a half years I would mentally assent to, “Ok, Lord, I bow. I bow.” There was no fruit of that bowing because it wasn’t real. You can’t just say like some sort of Zen mantra over and over again and somehow that makes it real. Your will has to get involved. And the will wrestles down everything else, and boom, plants one foot in front of the other sometimes painfully. Sometimes each step is the worst, most awful step you can possibly take. That is obedience sometimes. I’m sorry. Sometimes it’s a terrible agony, one step in front of the other. And honestly, for me, I don’t think you can obey, make something a reality when you have no fear of God. I don’t think you have any impetus. There’s no motivation to do more than mentally assent if you don’t fear God. Why would you? Then all you fear is perhaps disapproval of man, so you’ll just change your life just enough so that people can’t see that you haven’t really made any changes.
(Jennifer) That’s my take on it anyway.
I see The Blood, the Cross and The Lamb in your words, Jennifer, and I find it real and true; “sometimes (obedience) is a terrible agony, one step in front of the other.”
“Obedience is to receive the Word of God, to hear what He says to you, and to choose to make it your reality.”
Amen. Yes, that’s a truly true definition…
Oh Jennifer, once again you cut to the bottom line. I too have been both sons, OH YES, I will do it and don’t and OH NOOOOOOO I don’t want to. Bless you for being so brutally honest. Oh LORD, you are an awesome fearful God. Will you give me your desire and willingness to obey.