This sermon was preached by Jason Shodd on Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 6:00PM. To download the sermon, CLICK HERE, or just listen from the webpage. If you would like a CD made, let us know and we would be happy to oblige.
Text: Acts 9:31
1. In writing about the early church, Luke recorded :( 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.”) Note that they were “walking in the fear of the Lord”!
2. In writing to the church at Philippi, Paul told them: (Phil. 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 ;”)
3. The concept of “fear and trembling” in connection with God is not a popular concept today.
a. People prefer to hear about God’s love, longsuffering and mercy
b. Sometimes, when we point out God’s righteous indignation, holiness, and justice, people reply “My God is not like that!”
4. The emphasis on God’s love and mercy today is probably a reaction to the “hell, fire, and brimstone” preaching of another generation.
5. But could it be that we have gone to other extreme?
a. Where there is no concept of “fear and trembling” as it relates to the Christian?
b. Could this be why many Christians are apathetic in their service?
c. Could it be we have forgotten Whom we should fear if we are negligent in our service? – cf. (Matt. 10:28 28 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.)
6. In this lesson, I hope to accomplish three things:
a. Define the “fear of the Lord”
b. Point out why the “fear of the Lord” is important to the Christian
c. Suggest how we can develop a healthy “fear of the Lord” without going to one extreme or the other. [We begin by...]
I. DEFINING THE “FEAR OF THE LORD”
A. THE WORD “FEAR”…
1. In the Hebrew, the word is “YIR’AH” and is used in the Old Testament to describe:
a. fear, terror
b. awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear)
c. fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety
2. The Greek word is “PHOBOS”, and it is used to describe:
a. fear, dread, terror.
b. that which strikes terror.
B. IN CONNECTION WITH THE “FEAR OF THE LORD”, IT IS OFTEN DEFINED AS
“REVERENCE” OR “AWE”…
1. Which is fine as far as it goes…
2. But I wonder if this definition truly goes far enough…
3. 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”!
1. Even as Paul indicated in (Phil. 2:12), by combining “fear and trembling”
2. The Greek word for “trembling” is “TROMOS” and means “a trembling or quaking with fear”
3. Just as one would likely tremble in the presence of one who could take our life, so Jesus taught us to fear the Lord – (Mt 10:28)
D. A PROPER “FEAR OF THE LORD” WOULD THEN INCLUDE…
1. “reverence and awe…”
2. “being afraid to offend God in any way” – HENDRICKSEN
3. A trembling and quaking if one knows they have offended God and have not obtained forgiveness! – cf. (Heb. 10:26-27 26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries., 30-31 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.”31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.; 12:28-29 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.)
[The value of such an attitude is seen as we continue on and now notice...]
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE “FEAR OF THE LORD”
A. FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS, WE LEARN…
1. The “fear of the Lord” is the beginning of knowledge – (Pro. 1:7 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.)
2. The “fear of the Lord” will cause one to hate evil – (Pro. 8:13 13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.)
3. The “fear of the Lord” will prolong life – (Pro. 10:27 27 The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.)
4. The “fear of the Lord” provides strong confidence and is a fountain of life – (Pro. 14:26-27 26 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge. 27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.)
5. The “fear of the Lord” prompts one to depart from evil – (Pro. 16:6 6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.)
6. The “fear of the Lord” leads to a satisfying life, and spares one from much evil – (Pro. 19:23 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil.)
7. The “fear of the Lord” is the way to riches, honor, and life! – (Pro. 22:4 4 By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life.)
B. WITHOUT THE “FEAR OF THE LORD”…
1. We close ourselves to the treasures of God’s wisdom and knowledge!
2. We will flirt with evil and be corrupted by it
3. 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.)
4. We will not come to know the love of God that gives us assurance and confidence of our salvation
5. When fallen into sin, we will not be motivated to repent and turn to God!
6. We will not be motivated to truly “work out our own salvation”!
[Without the "fear of the Lord", we cannot please God (cf. Is 66:1-2 1 Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest? 2 For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,”
Says the LORD. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.).
Only the person who "trembles at His Word" has God's promise to receive
His tender mercy! (cf. Ps 103:17-18 17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children,18 To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.).
But how does one develop the proper "fear of the Lord" without going to the extreme of earlier generations?]
III. DEVELOPING THE “FEAR OF THE LORD”
A. THE “FEAR OF THE LORD” COMES THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD!
1. Just as “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.), the same can be said for the “fear of the Lord”!
2. Notice Deut 31:10-13, where the children of Israel were told to gather every seven years to read and hear the Word… (Deut 31:10-13 10 And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, 13 and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.”)
3. The purpose? “…that they may learn to fear the Lord”!
4. As one reads the Word of God, they should gain a healthy degree of the “fear of the Lord”
a. Consider the words of Paul in (Rom. 2:4-11 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.)
b. Or how about the words of Peter in (2Pet. 3:7-147 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless)
B. THE WORD OF GOD, PROPERLY USED, WILL MAINTAIN A PROPER BALANCE…
1. It is important to emphasize, however, that to avoid extremes, we must read ALL of God’s Word
a. Some read only those portions will reveal God’s love and mercy, and have no “fear of the Lord”
b. Others emphasize the “fire, hell and brimstone” passages and know nothing of God’s everlasting lovingkindness
c. The one develops an attitude of permissiveness that belittles God’s holiness and justice
d. The other develops a psychosis of terror that forgets God’s grace and compassion
2. Even in the passages noted above, the context of each speaks much of God’s grace and forgiveness for those who will repent!
3. So we must be careful how we use the Word of God, but use it we must!
1. The Psalmist said… (Psalms 89:7 “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.”)
2. Why do we need to “fear the Lord”? So we will be sure to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”!
3. The warning is necessary, for as it is written in Hebrews:
(Hebrews 4:1-2 1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.)
And again…“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Hebrews 4:11 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.)
4. 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.”)
5. Are you “perfecting holiness in the fear of God”?
featured image courtesy of Joe_B licensed via Creative Commons