Here is a superb piece from Jeff Turner:
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
-Matt 10:28, NKJV
How often I’ve heard the above passage used to prop up the idea that it is healthy to transmit to others, and have in ourselves, a terror and fear of God based upon His ability to torment us in hell forever. However, it’s crystal clear, without even deconstructing the idea that Gehenna equals the modern version of hell, that this is not what is being said.
Remember, the context in which Jesus said this is that He is commissioning His disciples to go and preach the kingdom to hostile individuals who will seek to imprison and kill them. Jesus’ solution? Don’t be afraid of them, because what they can do to you is quite limited compared to what God could do.
So, it seems simple enough, right? Be more afraid of God than people, right?
Read what follows:
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
-Matt 10:29-31, NKJV
The point Jesus is making is that if you’re going to be afraid of someone, it should be the one who could do you far greater harm than any human could. However, this one is moved even by the death of a sparrow, which men imbue with little value, and yet He loves us far more deeply than He does the sparrow, as He’s has taken the time to number the hairs of your head. So if the death of a sparrow moves Him, how much more would harm coming to His children move Him! Therefore, though God is the only one capable of doing us true harm, He would never dream of it, and the conclusion of this passage used to encourage fear is actually “do NOT fear”!
So I say again what I’ve said ten thousand times before: any doctrine that encourages us to fear a God of wrath and retribution, violence and vengeance, is anti-Christ and the opposite of Gospel.