“The Fear of God” This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, February 18, 2018.
Fear is a powerful emotion. We use the word or talk about it on a number of levels. On the one hand we love to be “scared.” We say to each other, “Have you see such and such movie?” “Yeah, it was great. I was scared to death!” On the other hand we don’t like it at all. “Oh, don’t say that you scared me.”
There is a paralyzing fear and then there is a healthy fear. If I’m laying in bed and here a window break and I know someone has just broken in my house – that is a paralyzing fear. I would really be afraid something could happen to Rheadon as she takes care of that situation! On the other hand if I’m going to do anything involving electricity – I have a healthy fear. I’m not going to take any chances. I’m going to be extra careful. Fear can be a good thing. In fact fear is a necessary thing.
Fear is a good thing, a necessary thing, when we talk about our faith. In Romans 3 when the apostle Paul describes those folks who stand outside the faith – both Jew and Gentile, those who do not know Christ – he says of them, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we must add to that the fact that even within the church, vast numbers of those who say they know the Lord – have no fear of Him. God has been made “safe.” You have nothing to fear from God as He is preached in most churches today. The all Mighty has been tamed. Oh sure those pagans have something to fear. They need to be afraid of the judgement of God. They need to fear the fires of hell. But for those who have walked an aisle or said a prayer or “made a commitment” – they have nothing to fear. Where is that in the scripture?
Doesn’t the scripture say – “perfect love cast out fear?” Yes. It eliminates that paralyzing fear of eternal punishment and banishment from God’s blessing and presence. But, while we are delivered from the ultimate wrath of God, we are not guaranteed deliverance from His temporal judgements.
Do you remember Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu? They dropped dead on the spot because they mixed “strange fire” on the altar of God.
Uzzah dropped dead because he reached out to steady the ark of God. The instant he touched the ark – he was struck dead.
Ananias and Sapphira died because they lied to the apostles and the Holy Spirit.
It is at best naïve and at worst arrogant to think that believers live above the judgement of God. It is naïve to say those judgements only happened in biblical times. We just have the advantage of divine commentary on those events. Who knows today the extent, if any, to which tragic and traumatic events may be the expression of God’s judgement against those who do not fear Him?
We must be careful and not fall into the trap of Job’s three friends – but it is not unreasonable to think that God still brings swift judgement in our own time. He is the same yesterday, today and forever isn’t He?
It is critical to our faith that we have a biblical view of God.
We need to see God as presented in scripture.
There are some very distorted views today.
- The God of the great big stick
- and the gullible grandfather.
Yes, God is good and loving.
It is His nature to give – He delights in doing good – and He is the God of all grace.
This evening I want to look at the opposite side of that coin.
In years gone by people of faith were described as “God-fearing.”
That was a badge of honor proudly worn by those who embraced the Gospel.
That is not a message you hear much anymore.
But one that is desperately needed.
Perhaps more now than ever before.
We as believers need to recapture a biblical sense of who God is and how we are to relate to Him. There is a profound lack of respect and reverence for the things of God in our culture and in our churches. There is a cozy attitude toward God that has little or nothing to do with biblical standards. God is not your buddy. He is not someone you pal around with. He is the Sovereign ruler of heaven and earth. The eternal, holy and righteous God. And we had best not forget that.
I am convinced that:
Thesis: A genuinely biblical understanding of God demands an overwhelming reverential fear.
Boy that doesn’t sound like fun.
I’m convinced that we will never know real joy until we are rightly related to God and we cannot be rightly related to Him until we know who He is!
There are three things I want us to note this evening about reverential fear. And I want to look at them through the eyes of three individuals who had profound encounters with God – encounters that greatly impacted their lives.
- Reverential fear begins with a profound sense of the presence of God.
- Reverential fear flows from a sense of God’s holiness and power. (Luke 5:1-11)
- Reverential fear results from a sense of the infinite majesty, power and authority of God. (Revelation 1:12-17)
I’m bothered/concerned about the cheap, flippant attitudes of modern day preachers who claim to have had encounters with the risen Christ and with God. I hear and see in them arrogance and boasting, when in scripture I find the opposite. I’m concerned about the cozy way we speak to God and refer to Him with such familiarity. I think we would do well to rediscover a biblical sense of the holiness of God and stand in reverential fear of the All Mighty.
Reverential fear begins with a profound sense of His presence.
Reverential fear flows from a sense of God’s holiness and power.
Reverential fear results from a sense of the infinite majesty, power and authority of God.
A genuinely biblical understanding of God demands an overwhelming reverential fear.