The Fear of God

" And if ye call on the Father, who without
respect of persons judgeth according to
every man's work, pass the time of your
sojourning here in fear:" (I Pet. 1:17)

Of all the elements that constitute faith in God, none have been more diminished to the present generation of the body of Christ than the fear of God. The fear of God has just been completely taught out of today's modern so called Gospel. And as time passes, and all things continue to repeat themselves as they have throughout history, this is nothing new. The same thing happened with ancient Israel, God's people of old; and as we will see, it happened with them for the same reasons that it has happened to God's people today. Listen to what the Lord had to say through the great prophet Jeremiah: "...know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts" (Jer. 2:19). And to be certain of what it was that God was saying was lacking in the hearts of His people, the meaning of the Hebrew word "pakhdaw," which is the original word for "fear" in this passage, is defined as "dread, fear, or awe." The reason I point out the meaning of the Hebrew word is because so many today who profess faith in Christ will acknowledge the fear of the Lord only as being a respect for God. The common mindset today is "God wants us to love Him, and to know that He loves us; not to be afraid of Him." While I certainly concur with the first part of a statement like that, I can show you through the Scriptures that the people who truly know God's love as it really is, also are the people who know the reality of fearing Him greatly.

Job is one of only a handful of men in the Bible whom God mentioned by name, as being extraordinarily faithful (Ezek. 14:14,20). Listen to what Job had to say regarding the fear of God: "But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him. Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him" (Job 23:13-15). And the Psalmist, being inspired by the Spirit of God, was in unison with Job: "Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling" (Psalms 2:11). The Hebrew word "rahad" is the one used for fear in this passage, and the definition here adds "terror" to the meaning, alongside fear. We have already quoted the Apostle Peter in our text scripture, so let's hear from another new testament warrior of the faith, the Apostle Paul: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;" (II Cor. 5:11). And this is the same apostle who also admonished us to "work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling" (Philip. 2:12). And the Scriptures plainly tell us that Jesus' prayers were heard and regarded by His Father because He feared Him (Heb. 5:7). In fact the Bible informs us that it is the wicked who do not fear God (Psm. 36:1). With the point being sufficiently made, let's move forward and look at the main reason why the majority of God's people of old, as well as God's people today, do not believe in having a dread fear of God, as the faithful of all generations have had.

The body of Christ today has been taught in essence that God is not the same God that He was in the old testament . This hasn't been done necessarily in an outright manner, but through subtlety, as all erroneous teachings are presented (Eph. 4:14). The events recorded in the old testament writings are absolutely replete with examples of God's displeasure being invoked upon Israel for their steadfast disobedience to His will. Often times this displeasure manifested in severe judgments of famine, calamity, war, disease, death, etc. And in reality these types of judgments were and are last resort measures of God's love, seeking to bring His people back to obedience and the state of blessing, which He much prefers for us. The reason that Israel necessitated these kinds of judgments upon themselves is that they did not believe that they had to keep all of the commandments of the Lord in order to be saved (Jer. 7:1-15). God addressed this faulty mindset through the prophet Malachi: "Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?" (Mal. 2:17). In other words they didn't understand either the love or the fear of God, because they didn't believe in God judging them for their sins. In fact they had lost sight of the peril of being in opposition to the commandments of God, because knowing and keeping the commandments of God had become optional to them rather than utterly necessary. Like the people of Jeremiah's day, they believed that they were saved simply because they were Israel, God's people.

And God's people today have fallen prey to the same old trick of Satan, which is generally known as "eternal security." We have endless warnings in the new testament writings, promising eternal damnation to all who name the name of Christ but fail to continue in His will  (Mat. 7:21-23; Mat. 13:40-42; Jn. 15:5,6; Rom. 11:20,21; I Cor. 6:8-10; Heb. 6:4-8; Heb. 10:28-30; etc.). Yet the body of Christ, like ancient Israel, has chosen to listen to the false teachers who promise salvation simply on the merit of an initial confession of faith in Christ (Eph. 5:1-7; II Tim. 4:3; II Pet. 21,19; etc.). And to add to these things, the Apostle Paul warns us of God's present judgments upon us if we persist in opposition to the will and commandments of God; telling us that we can prevent many severe judgments by simply being honest with ourselves and keeping our hearts with all diligence (I Cor. 11:26-32 with Prov. 4:23). But like Israel of old, God's people today have been taught to say in essence "Where is the God of judgment?" And like old testament Israel, the Congregation of the Lord today believes that salvation is merely a formality of a supposed confession of faith, even though this teaching is in absolute opposition to consistent scriptural evidence that informs us that we must follow after true holiness till the end, in order to obtain salvation (Mat. 5:8; Mat. 24:13; Philip. 2:12; Heb. 3:14; Heb. 10:36; Heb. 12:14; I Jn. 3:1-3; etc.).

Friend the bottom line here is that God is "the judge of all the earth," and He continually judges all the affairs of men, and He always judges righteously without partiality. And as quoted above from the Apostle Paul, we will all stand before God and be judged according to the way we lived our lives in this world. This is why Peter states in our text scripture that "(we) should pass the time of (our) sojourning here in fear;" because as he also states, God judges all of us according to our works, without respect of persons. The fact of the matter is, if we take sin with us to the grave, we will go to Hell and ultimately lose out on the inheritance that we've been called to obtain (Heb. 12:15-17). Hence the words of Jesus: "Many are called, but few are chosen." When God killed Ananias and Sapphira, who lied to Peter about the money that they received in the sale of a property, He showed that He is indeed the same "God of judgment" that He was in the old testament, and that He still feels the same way about sin (Acts 5:1-11). And we are also told in this passage that great fear came upon all of God's people who saw and heard of these things. And in reality God is showing forth the same thing every day and in every place (including the body of Christ), if we have eyes to see and ears to hear (Psm. 105:7).

And finally let me say that having the fear of the Lord is not the same thing as feeling that God "is out to get you," watching for you to make a mistake so that He can punish you. That is a lack of understanding of both the love of God, and the fear of God. God is enormously longsuffering, and has no desire to bring hurt or adversity, but by no means is He to be seen as a doting grandpa who will not punish or judge sin among His people. (Lam. 3:33; Ezek. 33:11; II Pet. 3:9). This is exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about in Heb. 10:31 where he said, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." In closing let me quote the beloved Apostle who wrote much about the love of God: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love" (I Jn. 4:18). Rest assured that John wasn't saying that the love of God casts out the fear of God from anyone's heart, but rather it casts out the fear of everything and everybody else! A heart that is made perfect in love will fear God completely, leaving no space for the fear of anything else. This is what the Psalmist referred to in this passage: "Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name" (Psm. 86:11). Friend I hope this small article will help to turn you away from the flesh-pleasing doctrines that are upheld by Christianity, and point you in the direction of God's required holiness. Amen.

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, ..."
(I Cor.12:13)

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