Albert N. Martin
Reviewed by: Ryan M. McGraw
Date posted: 04/16/2017
The Forgotten Fear: Where Have All the God-Fearers Gone? by Albert N. Martin. Reformation Heritage Books, 2015. Paperback, 175 pages, list price $15.00. Reviewed by OP minister and professor Ryan M. McGraw.
Few Christians will question the fact that there has been a tremendous breakdown in ethics, both in the world and in the church. Yet, as Al Martin notes in The Forgotten Fear, “You cannot separate ethics, morality, and conduct from the true biblical religion” (p. 128). The Bible often summarizes true biblical religion with the phrase “the fear of the Lord.” Martin’s book is calculated to promote godly character in believers, conversion in unbelievers, and joyful, God-exalting worship in all.
Martin is clear and deliberate in expounding his subject. One of the reasons why the Lord has used him so greatly as a preacher, and now as an author, is that he makes his hearers and readers think through the Bible carefully and deliberately. He treats his subject by tracing its importance in Scripture, defining his terms, delineating its components, rooting it in the gospel of Christ, and applying it to our personal conduct. Readers will not find fancy rhetorical devices here, but they will learn key passages of Scripture, accompanied by useful illustrations and robust applications. Martin is a good model to preachers in particular, as he develops a subject from texts of Scripture in a way that is orderly and focused. This fills a great need in our day, when preaching often meanders though texts without a clear sense of direction or purpose.
Martin is eminently practical, providing clear and specific examples of how to apply his subject. This is particularly true in his last chapter, where he notes that even though the fear of God and the resultant fruit of the Spirit are worked in us by God, we have more to do than simply pray (p. 143). We need to know what the Bible says (pp. 147–50), we need to experience God’s forgiveness (pp. 150–53), we need to learn more about God’s greatness (pp. 153–57), we need a growing awareness of God’s presence (pp. 157–59), we need to cultivate our sense of obligation to God (pp. 159–60), and we need to associate ourselves with those who fear God (pp. 160–65). This process should both begin and end with fervent prayer (pp. 165–66).
Martin addresses businessmen and students, parents and children, believers and unbelievers, and many other groups. His final chapter applies the principles taught in the rest of the book, creating a harmonious picture of the Christian life that is packed with practical suggestions. This makes his teaching both specific and helpful, which is the best way to make biblical insights useful to our souls.
The fear of God can recover the ethical foundations of the church and impact the world for Christ. Solomon once wrote, “The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd” (Eccl. 12:11 NKJV). Read this book to prod you on toward godliness and help you recover the forgotten fear of the Lord.