WALKING IN THE FEAR OF THE LORD
Acts 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
Acts 9:31 AMP So the church throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was edified [growing in wisdom, virtue, and piety] and walking in the respect and reverential fear of the Lord and in the consolation and exhortation of the Holy Spirit, continued to increase and was multiplied.
INTRODUCTION: Heb. 10:23-31; 2Pet. 3:1-18; 1Jn. 3:4-10; Lk. 10:17-20; Php. 2:12; Mt. 10:28
In writing about the early church, Luke recorded: "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." (Acts 9:31)
- Note: they were "walking in the fear of the Lord"!
- In writing to the church at Philippi, Paul told them: (Php 2:12) "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;"
- The concept of "fear and trembling" in connection with God is not a popular concept today:
- People prefer to hear about God's love, longsuffering and mercy
- Sometimes, when we point out God's justice, righteous indignation, and holiness, people reply "My God is not like that!"
- The emphasis on God's love and mercy today is probably in reaction to the "hell, fire, and brimstone" preaching of another generation. YET, We need to remember "hell, fire, and brimstone" is still REAL!
- But could it be that we have gone to other extreme?
- Where there is no concept of "fear and trembling" as it relates to the Christian?
- Could this be why many Christians are apathetic in their service?
- Could it be we have forgotten Whom we should fear if we are negligent in our service? — cp. (Mat 10:28 ASV) “And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
- It is necessary to point out why the "FEAR OF THE LORD" is important to the Christian.
and Suggest how we can develop a healthy "FEAR OF THE LORD" without going to one extreme or the other.
I. DEFINING THE "FEAR OF THE LORD"
A. THE WORD "FEAR"...
- In the Hebrew, the word is "YIR'AH" and is used in the Old Testament to describe:
- fear, terror
- awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear)
- fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety
- The Greek word is "PHOBOS", and it is used to describe:
- fear, dread, terror
- that which strikes terror
B. IN CONNECTION WITH THE "FEAR OF THE LORD", IT IS OFTEN DEFINED AS "REVERENCE" OR "AWE"...
- Which is fine as far as it goes...
- But I wonder if this definition truly goes far enough...
- For though the terms "reverence" and "awe" imply a place for "trembling," do most people make the connection?
C. THE "FEAR OF THE LORD" SHOULD INCLUDE A PLACE FOR "TREMBLING"!
- Even as Paul indicated in Php 2:12, by combining "fear and trembling"
- The Greek word for "trembling" is "TROMOS" and means "a trembling or quaking with fear"
- Just as one would likely tremble in the presence of one who could take our life, so Jesus taught us to fear the Lord — Mat 10:28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).
D. A PROPER "FEAR OF THE LORD" WOULD THEN INCLUDE...
- "reverence and awe..."
- "being afraid to offend God in any way" — HENDRICKSEN
- A trembling and quaking if one knows they have offended God and have not obtained forgiveness! — Heb 10:26-27,30-31; 12:28-29
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE "FEAR OF THE LORD"
A. FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS, WE LEARN...
The "fear of the Lord" is the beginning of wisdom — Pro. 1:7 AMP The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline. [Ps. 111:10.]
The "fear of the Lord" will cause one to hate evil — Pro 8:13 HCSB To fear the LORD is to hate evil. I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech.
The "fear of the Lord" will prolong life — Pro 10:27 HCSB The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.
The "fear of the Lord" provides strong confidence and is a fountain of life — Pro 14:26-27 In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence and his children have a refuge. 27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning people from the snares of death.
The "fear of the Lord" prompts one to depart from evil — Pro 16:6 Wickedness is atoned for by loyalty and faithfulness, and one turns from evil by the fear of the LORD.
The "fear of the Lord" leads to a satisfying life, and spares one from much evil — Pro 19:23 Fearing the LORD leads to life, and one who does so will live satisfied; he will not be afflicted by calamity.
The "fear of the Lord" is the way to riches, honor, and life! — Pro 22:4 The result of humility is fear of the LORD, along with wealth, honor, and life.
B. WITHOUT THE "FEAR OF THE LORD"...
- We close ourselves to the treasures of God's wisdom and knowledge!
- We will flirt with evil and be corrupted by it
- Our lives are likely to be shortened by our refusal to heed God's word (e.g., suffering sexually transmitted diseases because we did not heed His Word on sexual relationships)
- We will not come to know the love of God that gives us assurance and confidence of our salvation
- When fallen into sin, we will not be motivated to repent and turn to God!
- We will not be motivated to truly "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling"!
- Without the "fear of the Lord" we cannot please God — Isa 66:1-2 This is what the LORD says: "The heavens are my throne and the earth is my footstool. Where then is the house you will build for me? Where is the place where I will rest? 2 My hand made them; that is how they came to be," says the LORD. I show special favor to the humble and contrite, who respect what I have to say.
- Only the person who ‘trembles at His Word’ has God's promise to receive His tender mercy! — Psa 103:17-18 But the LORD continually shows loyal love to his faithful followers, and is faithful to their descendants, 18 to those who keep his covenant, who are careful to obey his commands.
But how does one develop the proper "fear of the Lord"?
III. DEVELOPING THE "FEAR OF THE LORD"
A. THE "FEAR OF THE LORD" COMES THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD!
- Just as "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom 10:17), the same can be said for the "fear of the Lord"!
- The children of Israel were told to gather every seven years to read and hear the Word — Deuteronomy 31:10-13 He commanded them: "At the end of seven years, at the appointed time of the cancellation of debts, at the Feast of Temporary Shelters, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place he chooses, you must read this law before them within their hearing. 12 Gather the people men, women, and children, as well as the resident foreigners in your villages so they may hear and thus learn about and fear the LORD your God and carefully obey all the words of this law. 13 Then their children, who have not known this law, will also hear about and learn to fear the LORD your God for as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."
- The purpose? "...that they may learn to fear the Lord"!
- As one reads the Word of God, they should gain a healthy degree of the "fear of the Lord"
- Consider the words of Paul in Rom 2:4-11
- Or how about the words of Peter in 2Pet 3:7-14
B. THE WORD OF GOD, PROPERLY USED, WILL MAINTAIN A PROPER BALANCE...
- It is important to emphasize, however, that to avoid extremes, we must read ALL of God's Word
- Some read only those portions will reveal God's love and mercy, and have no "fear of the Lord"
- Others emphasize the "hell, fire and brimstone" passages, and know nothing of God's everlasting lovingkindness
- The one develops an attitude of permissiveness that belittles God's holiness and justice
- The other develops a psychosis of terror that forgets God's grace and compassion
- Even in the passages noted above, the context of each speaks much of God's grace and forgiveness for those who will repent!
- So we must be careful how we use the Word of God, but use it we must!
The Psalmist said "... God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints and to be had in reverence of all [them that are] about him." (Psalms 89:7)
Why do we need to "fear the Lord"? So we will be sure to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling"!
The warning is necessary, for as it is written in Hebrews: "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it]." (Hebrews 4:1-2) — And again "... Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." (Hebrews 4:11)
With the proper "fear of the Lord", we will "work out our salvation", we will "labour...to enter into that [heavenly] rest"! — (2Cor 7:1) "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
Are you "perfecting holiness in the fear of God"?
Prayer requests: 1-918-224-3609
Mail: Pastor Ira L. Hargis
9238 Columbia St.
Sapulpa, Oklahoma USA 74066
Awesome links: http://www.e-sword.net/, http://worldenglishbible.org/, http://www.jvim.com/, http://www.jsm.org/, http://www.netbible.com/