Should we Fear God?

Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  -Jesus

“The Fear of the Lord” is the outstanding enigma in mainstream Christian culture as we plod on into the 21st century.  It is a subject of teaching largely ignored by our spiritual pezzonovantes on their blogs, videos and in their bestselling books.  Revelations of God’s holiness causes you tremble - and trembling is messy with a caramel macchiato in your hand.

What is “The Fear of the Lord”?  I hardly know.  At least I know when it is - and when it is not - on my soul.  It is not nightmarish.  Demonic fear is confusing and paralyzing.  Godly fear is sobering and liberating.  To fear him is to be in awe of him.

We fear God not because he is cruel and evil but rather because he is good and holy. Fearing him causes us to run to the cross to find his limitless mercy when we sin. Having the Fear of the Lord is standing in the place of holy fire but not being consumed by it. It is the pathway to death-to-self and, therefore, enables us to stand in the power of resurrection life.  It is the true confidence:  fearing God more = fearing men less. 

Do we fear God? Not “Do we think God is hip?” nor “Do we have a popular ministry of writing, preaching, dancing or singing?”  There is perhaps no more accurate measuring stick of one’s greatness in God or of one’s potential for bearing eternal fruit than this one quality which is almost impossible to overvalue.   

What gave the Hebrew women courage and strength to defy the Pharaoh and save babies in ancient Egypt?  Scripture declares it is because they “feared God” (Ex 1).  What gave Paul the power to keep persevering as a missionary even though he faced obstacles of elephantine proportions in city after city? “Therefore knowing the Fear of the Lord we persuade people.”(2 Cor. 5)

One will not know true and lasting closeness to God without it. It was central to Jesus’ relationship to the Father, “His delight will be in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11).  The Fear of the Lord is “The beginning of wisdom” (Pr. 1) and no one is a true theologian without it - regardless of how many degrees one has on the wall or what academic journal’s one gets published in.

It is also through Jesus that we can experience God and not be consumed. He satisfied divine wrath by paying the price for human sin. Apart from Jesus, God is dangerous. He is the secure asbestos suit we put on if we are to safely enter the volcano of God's presence. In him, we are safe. But falling into the hands of a volcano is fearful nonetheless.

Preacher, what is the effect of your ministry upon those you speak to? Are we merely entertaining or boosting self-esteem? Or, do people leave our services humbled and speechless because they’ve had a revelation of the awesome majesty of God?

Christian, are we bored of prayer? Are we constantly distracted by other thoughts in times of public worship? Or, does the Fear of God rest on us to such a degree that we hungry to engage with God in private because nothing else is as satisfying to us?  In all our getting, may we get this! 

Too much is at stake in our generation to go without.


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