Archive for the 'Fear of God' Category

The fear of God

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Future Threat

(ChristArt)

Spencer D Gear

God gave A.W. Tozer the wonderful gift to get to the core of many issues for Christians.  He wrote that “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself.” [2]  Just think on this: What you believe about God is the most important thing about you!

Today, there is tremendous irreverence for God through blasphemy and profane use of his name by secular people around us.  Jesus Christ or God seem to be as familiar to our peers as words like mate, sex and the dole.

But with some Christians, their view of God has become very familiar, downright low.  I have had people speak of their heavenly Father and call Him, “Daddy.”  Afterall, they say, Rom. 8:15, calls him, “Abba Father.”

  •  That’s true.  This is the very word Jesus used in the garden of Gethsemane when he was in horrible agony and unburdening his soul to God (Mark 14:36).

It is also used in Gal. 4:6, the Spirit of adoption cries out “Abba Father.”  “Abba” is the Aramaic word for “father.”  Yes, it is a term of “tenderness, trust, and love.”  It does speak of “the intimate spiritual relationship between the believer and his God.” [3]

But “Abba” only appears three times in the entire Bible.

Is your view of God, one of his being a “daddy”?  A friend, a mate or buddy?  This is a shallow view of God and our relationship with him, if we want him primarily as a buddy. God is awesome and for us to relate to him as a daddy or mate, is horribly superficial and irreverent.

If we are true believers, we must relate to God in a more profound way.  There’s a word that appears at least 49 times in the Book of Psalms [4], especially throughout the O.T., but also in the N.T. that defines the true believer and his/her relationship with God. [5]

It’s a view of God that is far from our lips. We rarely hear it today, even in the church.  We may want to turn our backs on this kind of God and run from him.  But this is the core of true Christianity.  See Psalm 112!

Hallelujah.  That’s how this psalm begins: “Praise the Lord.”  This, along with Ps. 111, is an acrostic psalm.  Instead of end words of a line rhyming, the writer here uses the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to begin each new line. Praise the Lord for what?

THE STATE OF THE TRUE BELIEVER (Psalm 112:1)

“Blessed is the [person] who fears the Lord.”  The truly godly person is one who fears the Lord.  This is a radically different relationship than being your daddy or mate.
If you are ever going to be blessed, you must be one who fears the Lord.

A.  What does it mean to “fear the Lord”?

Some of the old time theologians used to speak of the “terror of the Lord.” [6] However, the King James Version and the modern versions I checked (NIV, NASB, NRSV, RSV) speak of the true believer as the one who fears the Lord.

When we want to understand any biblical principle, we need to compare Scripture with Scripture.  This is a basic rule of biblical interpretation.  Many of us get into trouble with interpretation when we take just one verse in isolation.
So, what does it mean to “fear the Lord.”

 

 1.  Isaiah 8:13

“The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.”  When we fear people it is radically different from the fear of Jehovah.  When we fear people, we:

  • fear their power to hurt us–
  • hurt our reputation,
  • damage our property,
  • hurt those we love,
  • hurt us physically if they are more powerful,
  • may fear the power of the government over us to tax us, punish us when we break the law, take away our freedom, etc.

On the human level, we may have sound reasons for a healthy fear of people and government.  However, too often we forget that human beings, Satan and his demons, can only do to us what God allows.  Job is a classic example.

Jesus said to Pilate: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:10).

Human beings are absolutely powerless against God.  God can shatter any plans they have against you.  God could strike them dead at any moment.  Fear of human beings may cause those who are morally weak to follow the wicked.  I see this with youth who get into drugs and sex.  They fear their peers and what they will think of them if they don’t do these things.

Fear of human beings may cause some people to become slaves to employers, be untruthful and act as cowards.  Fear of human beings may influence some not to be honest with their convictions and even applaud evil.  Fear of human beings may cause us to be hypocrites, to pretend that we are Christian when we are not.  It may even cause us to deny Christ, as the apostle Peter did and later repented.  The fear of man is condemned in Scripture. [7] Just one example, I Peter 3:13-16:

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.  `Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Let’s return to Isa. 8:13, “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy.”  In contrast to the fear of human beings, the fear of God, according to Isa. 8:13, is based on two convictions:

First, He is “the Lord Almighty.”  We fear him because of his power.
Never forget this: Human beings can only injure you as far as temporal things in this world are concerned.  The most human beings can do to you is “kill your body.”  God’s powers go beyond the grave.  As Jesus put it: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).  We fear him because of his might.

Second, Isa. 8:13 emphasises that we fear God because of His absolute holiness. “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy.”

a.    What does “holy” mean? [8]

We mostly think of the purity and righteousness of God, but that is not the primary meaning of holiness.  It is more than a moral or ethical quality.

b.    Holy has two distinct meanings:
(1)    Primary meaning is: “apartness” or “otherness.”

“Holy” comes from an old word that meant “to cut” or “to separate.”  To put it into contemporary language, we could say He is “a cut above something.”  When we find some goods that are of superior quality, we say they are “a cut above the rest.”  That is, when we say that God is holy we are saying, by nature, there is a profound difference between God and all creatures.

  • God’s transcendent majesty;
  • His absolute superiority;
  • Therefore, He is worthy of our:
  • Honour
  •   Reverence or fear
  • Adoration
  • Worship

He is completely “other.”  He is different from us in his glory–radically different.  “When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate.  He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us.  To be holy is to be `other,’ to be different in a special way.” [9]

When the angels were calling to one another in Isa. 6:3, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory,” they were not saying “pure, pure, pure is the Lord Almighty,” but “wholly other, transcendent One, absolutely superior, is the Lord Almighty.”

(2)    The secondary meaning of holy relates to God’s pure and righteous actions.

God does what is correct.  He never does what is wrong.  He doesn’t have a sinful nature to tempt him to evil.  God always acts in a righteous way because his nature is holy.  We find that difficult to comprehend–somebody who is absolutely just and correct in everything he does.  But that’s our God.

Thanks to God revealing himself through the Bible, we know and can say that:

  • internally (by nature), God is righteous.  Therefore,
  • externally, his actions are righteous.

Because God is holy, He is both great and good.  There is no evil mixed with His goodness.  Why then, according to Isa. 8:13 are we to “fear” or “dread” this Lord?  This is the God of the universe who reveals Himself through the Bible.  The Scriptures tell us this about God:

  • “How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth” (Ps. 47:2). 

Politicians may legislate the killing of human beings through voluntary, active euthanasia, but it is the Lord Most High who is King over all the earth.  He is the one who judges individuals and nations.  Australians may think they can thumb their noses at almighty God, but God’s law is king.  We are finally accountable to this awesome God.  The superior, transcendent One.

When the Israelites were driving out the Canaanites from the Promised Land, the Bible says:

  • “Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God” (Deut. 7:21);
  • Again in Deuteronomy: “The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.  He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow. . .  Fear the Lord your God and serve Him” (Deut. 10:17-20).
  • “‘For I am a great king,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and my name is to be feared among the nations'” (Mal. 1:14).

What does it mean to fear God?  Let’s compare another Scripture!  Job gives us a summary of what it means to fear the Lord:

2.  Job 23:13-17

This is the One whom he fears:

a.    “He stands alone” (v. 13, NIV)

“He is unique” (NASB).  Literally: “For he is in one” [10] It speaks of the unity of God, the One true God.  As Deut. 6:4 puts it: “Hear. O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
Job does not have to answer to many gods, just the One true God.  Thanks to later revelation we know that this one God is in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Not polytheism (many gods).  The three persons in the one Godhead act totally in one accord.  They are one. 

He not only stands alone, but:

b.    “Who can oppose him?” (v. 13)

Literally, “who can turn him?”  As James 1:17 says of God the Father “who does not change like shifting shadows.”

For Job, there was the realisation that nothing could change God’s resolve to treat Job the way God did by afflicting him.  We need to understand this.  The Almighty God we serve is “unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”  This means that God’s laws for us, this world, including the ungodly, never, ever change. 

No matter how much the leaders and ordinary people of this country thumb their noses at God, scoff at His laws, this world is heading towards God’s conclusion, based on His unchanging person.  Sinners don’t get away with their sin.  Nations that reject God’s laws will suffer the consequences.

God’s Law is king.  It is a foolish government that wants to establish laws that contradict the law of God.  God’s law will always be king.  We, personally, and nations, are accountable to God.  We may not see the consequences in this life.  But God’s unchanging consequences will be experienced.

There is no circumstance anywhere in the world or in your life or mine that can affect this absolutely perfect God.  He is “the same yesterday, and today and forever.”  I ask you: “Who can oppose him?”  NOBODY!  To Job, God emphasises it:

c.    “He does whatever he pleases” (v. 13)

Literally: “And his soul desires, and he does.” [11] This sounds rather harsh, but God does what is absolutely best for this world and us.  There is no favouritism with him.  He always acts according to his perfect righteous nature.  Surely we see this all around us in the moral world.  God has told us that sexual relations are reserved for marriage.  People reject that and we have sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, devastating the world.

God says it is one man for one woman for life in the covenant of marriage.  We break it and we are reaping the consequences of shattered relationships, adults and children who are full of hate and are devastated.  God does whatever he pleases, but it is always totally good, holy and just.  We must understand what this meant in Job’s life:

  •   There is no one on earth like Job;
  •   He is blameless and upright;
  •   He is a man who fears God and shuns evil (1:8);


God gave Satan permission to:

  •   slaughter Job’s servants;
  •   destroy his animals;
  •   kill all of his sons and daughters;
  • BUT “in all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (1:22).


But there is more:

  •  “Satan… afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head” (2:7).
  •   Then Job’s “wife said to him, `Are you still holding on to your integrity?  Curse God and die!'” (2:9).  But there is still more.
  •   His three friends then came to try to comfort him, but they wanted to blame him for bringing this on himself.
  •   But in the end, “The Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before… The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first” (42:10, 12).

But God made it very clear to Job that God does whatever God pleases in Job’s life.  By application, whatever takes place in our lives is what God has sovereignly ordered for us in his goodness, holiness and righteousness.  I trust that you can conclude with Job at the end of his life.  He says to the Lord, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (42:2).

d.  Job 23:14

“He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store.” 

That is: God will do what he has planned for Job.  From the human perspective, it does not look very nice.  But this is God’s perfect will for Job.  Perhaps Job was thinking that God had many more doses of affliction for him.  God’s plan for the universe includes all individuals–Job, you and me.

Of sparrows, God says, “Not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:29-30).  These are God’s plans for you and me–even down to my baldness.

What is this saying?  The God whom we are to fear is one who cares about the weakest saint, every sinner, as well as governments and nations.  We must understand that God’s plan for Job was not exceptional.  Job was a real person.  However, we have in Job a revelation of the nature of God and how God operates in people’s lives.

What is Job’s response to this God?

e.  Job 23:15-17

  •  “I am terrified before him”;
  • “I fear him”;
  • “God has made [his] heart faint”;
  • “The Almighty has terrified [him]”;

This last verb, “terrified” (“dismayed”, NASB) is a very strong one and means that God “has filled [Job] with horror and consternation.” [12]  The thought of an all-powerful God who does not change, and puts into action what he decrees against Job, caused Job to have inward fear, confusion, terror, dismay.

The effect on Job as he meditated on God’s character as an all-wise, irresistibly powerful, moral Governor, who does whatever he pleases according to His will, is not something that people think very seriously about these days.

However, if we pause for a moment to think about the power and wisdom of God in creating and sustaining this vast material universe, surely it puts us in perspective.  We get a glimpse of our spiritual worthlessness and how puny we are before the eye of the majestic, awesome God.  I am convinced that we don’t understand our weakness and insufficiency until we truly have contact with God.  Until we begin to understand God as he is.

When faced with God’s holiness, Isaiah saw himself: “Woe is me!” I cried.  “I am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isa. 6:5).  When Job contemplated God, he said, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job. 42:6).

Since this is the true fear of God by one who is godly, what should the fear be for those who are rebels against God, have no peace with God, and on whom the wrath of God will be poured out in hell forever and ever??

Paul, the apostle, saw this very clearly when he said in 2 Cor. 5:11, “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.”  Many Christian people are puzzled.  They don’t understand why, in God’s sovereignty, they receive difficulties, affliction, death, from God.  Why are they treated with such severity? 

Most of us have never experienced what Job went through.  But he came through it with a fresh understanding of who God is.  Too often our knowledge of God’s plan is imperfect.  Our understanding of God is deficient.  This causes us to think that God is against us.  Like Job we don’t have genuine trust in God.  Our confidence in God is lacking. 

Rather than impeach God’s unchanging love towards his faithful followers and charge God with being an enemy of believers, we need to understand the nature of God.

Let me touch on two other Scriptures, briefly, to help us get a handle on what it means to “fear the Lord.”

 

3.  Psalm 111:10

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (same as Prov. 9:10; similar to Prov. 1:7, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”)   How can the “fear of the Lord” be the beginning of “wisdom” or “knowledge.”  Does this mean that if you study science, agriculture, medicine, without a knowledge of God, you do not have any knowledge?  That would be ridiculous logic!

It means that “the initial step or starting-point” for anybody who wants to gain true wisdom is the “fear of the Lord.”  No matter what human knowledge you attain, if you do not have the knowledge of God as your foundation, it is folly.  Your framework is faulty.  If you want to advance in knowledge and wisdom, you must have a reverence or holy fear of God. [13]

The sense of God.  The belief that He exists.  That He reigns in my life, my job and over the universe, and is the Source and Sustainer of all life and blessing–that is the foundation for all wisdom, success and anything excellent in life.

This is one of the reasons why Australians are floundering these days in law-making, in seeking answers for behavioural and moral problems in our society.  We do not fear God, so we do not accept his divine Word as authoritative.  Instead, we look to the best of man’s flawed human wisdom.

One of my former staff members attended a public meeting in Bundaberg, Qld, Australia where the speaker was advocating that laws against incest should be abolished.  It should no longer be a criminal offense for fathers and mothers to have sex with their children, he said.

When people reject the fear of God and do not seek God’s mind in dealing with moral problems in our society, the foundation for answers is shattered.  And we get such nonsense as decriminalising incest.  Will it be theft next?  What barrier is left for laws against murder to stand?

I consider that our Australian culture is on the skids; it is almost lost.  One of the finest defenders of the faith in the world today must be Ravi Zacharias.  This man with an East Indian background says:  “The greatest question of our time must be considered: Can man live without God?  It must be answered not only by those who are avowedly antitheistic, but also by the many who functionally live as if there were no God and that His existence does not matter.” [14]

Secular historians, Will and Ariel Durant, understood that question.  Their answer was, “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.” [15]

Without the “fear of the Lord” and obedience to his Word as the foundation of knowledge and wisdom, our nation will go down the skids, morally and culturally.

Someone has said, “We truly fear God just in proportion as we truly love him.”[16]

One other verse gives us another view of what it means to fear the Lord.

 

4.  Proverbs 8:13

“To fear the Lord is to hate evil.”  This is the reverse side of what I’ve been saying.  When you know that your sin is forgiven, you can truly hate evil.  Prov. 8:13 tells what evil the true believer is to hate: pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”

Since God is holy, to reverentially fear Him means that we adore God’s character, his goodness.  It should be natural then that we revolt against that which is opposite to God–evil.  When we fear God, we need to hunger and thirst after his righteousness.  We must have a passion to be Christ-like in our thoughts, actions and attitudes towards people.

This makes evil look hideous, detestable, abhorrent.  We must have horrible opposition to any evil desires or actions.  We must loathe evil from the bottom of our hearts.  Not just evil actions, but our own evil thoughts.  Yes, we practise morality because we fear God the Judge who will punish us for doing wrong.  But it is far more than that.  We love goodness and hate evil for God’s sake.

 

B.  SUMMARY

A.W. Tozer said that one of the perils for the preacher is “when he loses his solemn fear in the presence of the High and Holy One.” [17]  What is the fear of the Lord?  One writer put it this way:

It does not mean fear in our usual sense of being afraid.  It means rather to quake or tremble in the presence of a Being so holy, so morally superior, so removed from evil, that in his presence, human boasting, human pride, human arrogance vanish as we bow in speechless humility, reverence, and adoration of the One beyond understanding. [18]

This fear of God is not a dread or terror of Him in an horrific sense.  It is a loving reverence of him that finds us falling on our faces before him in willing obedience to his commands.  The fear of God includes trust in God, knowledge of God from creation and His Word, recognition of God’s claim on my life.  It is awe of the power and holiness of God.  When I fear God, I cherish the sense of His presence.


Human beings are dependent people.  We depend, not on husbands or wives, not on children, bosses or government leaders.  We must not depend on ourselves.  We cannot act wisely if we are our own king.  Dependent human beings must fear God.  We have a duty to obey Him.  We must carry out the plans of our Creator.  Life is only ordered correctly for us when God is in charge.  We depend on the Almighty One for our very existence.

 

II.  APPLICATION

We must apply this to us in Australia and around the world in the 21st century.

1.    Ps. 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.”

Why is this sense of God’s awesome holiness virtually unknown among Christians today?  Why is this holy reverence and overwhelming wonder missing in our lives and churches?  How can we be so blind as to treat God as a daddy, a good bloke, rather than falling on our faces before Him in holy awe?

The apostle John, according to Rev. 1:17, fell as if he were dead at the feet of God.  The reason for this lack of fear of God becomes clear:  “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.  Then he placed his right hand on me and said: `Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'”

Surely, there would be profound reverence and godly fear if we suddenly found ourselves in God’s presence.  In John’s words, the reason he had this holy fear was: “I saw him.”  Our lack of passionate love for God.  The fear of God is not among us because we are so far from our Lord.  We need to seek Him.  We need to see him and know him.

2.    How do we obtain the fear of God?

a.    Seek him.

It will not fall into your lap.  It comes through perseverance and diligence in prayer in his presence.
Ps. 27:8, “My heart says of you, `Seek his face!  Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Ps. 105:4, “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”

If you will seek God,

b.    He will teach you to fear him.

Ps. 34:9 & 11, “Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing… Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”

God teaches us to fear Him through his word.  Before Moses died, he told Israel’s kings how they were to walk in obedience to God.  Deut. 17: 19 says that their king was to “read [the law of God] all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.”

If you will feed your mind on who God is and his past dealings with the people of God through the Scriptures, you will learn how to fear the Lord.  You will quickly see how Jehovah blessed the obedient.

Read the historical books of the Old Testament (the Samuels, Kings, Chronicles) and you will see that when the king did what was right in the sight of the Lord, the nation was blessed and prospered.  When he did evil in God’s sight and walked according to his own ideas, the nation faltered and was judged.

We learn to fear the Lord when we meditate on his Word.

Deuteronomy 31:12-13 states:

Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do 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 that you are going over the Jordan to possess (ESV).

This is also a message for our day.  We are seeing a generation of youth (and adults) who know nothing about responsibility, morality or the fear of God.  Our children have been baptised into it through their music, television, peers and parents who know nothing of God.  This generation is lost.  They have little idea about God.  If we, the church, do not cry out about the sins of this generation, who will do it?  If we don’t teach them to fear God, who will?

The educators, counsellors and media moguls won’t do it.  They are busy destroying any semblance of God.  In New York City there was a tract circulating (if it’s in New York City, it won’t be long before it’s here in Australia) among 7th grade students, called “Your Rights.”  It says, “You have a right to have sex with anybody of any gender, anytime you please.”  The tract is sponsored by a school-related organisation. [19]

God is saying to us, the church, “Our children will not know about the Lord or about His holiness.  You must teach them the fear of God–teach them the Scriptures.”  How do you come to fear the Lord?  Seek Him and He will teach you.

Finally,

c.    Psalm 86:11

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”  You must want to seek God with “an undivided heart.”  Believers, if you truly want to fear God, you have to seek him with all your heart.  Wholeheartedly!  No distractions.  God does not give his fear to those who are spiritually lazy.

Proverbs 2:1-5 reads:

My son, if you receive my words  and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;  yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (ESV).

To learn to fear the Lord, is quite simple.  It starts with obedience to him in what you already know.  If your heart is undivided, he will lead you one step at a time in further obedience into his holy fear.  I am a Protestant.  The Protestant Reformation started with God using Martin Luther in the 1500s.  One of the things that marked the Reformers was an awe of the holy, majestic God.  It drove them to their knees in fear and reference.

Maximilian Kolbe knew the fear of the Lord.  It fueled his obedience–even to the point of pouring out his life for another.  His fear of God was greater than his fear of the tyrants of Auschwitz [Nazi prison camp].

The believers of Eastern Europe knew the fear of the Lord.  They chose Christ over their communist oppressors.  (Now they must choose Christ over materialism or whatever else follows.) [20]

The fear of the Lord was the secret of the early church.  When Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead in judgment because they lied to God (they trampled on the holy), Acts 5:11 says, “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

The contemporary, user-friendly, meeting felt-needs church is the opposite of one that fears the Lord.  Today’s church wants to “portray [God] as fun, jovial, easygoing, lenient, and even permissive… Sinners hear nothing of divine wrath.”[21]  Is it going to take a modern day Ananias and Sapphira to get the church back to an awesome fear of God?

The Scriptures link an awesome fear of God with a determined pursuit of holiness.  “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1, ESV).

Consider these words from a 19th century Scottish pastor and theologian, John Brown:

“Nothing is so well fitted to put the fear of God, which will preserve men from offending him, into the heart, as an enlightened view of the cross of Christ.  There shine spotless holiness, inflexible justice, incomprehensible wisdom, omnipotent power, holy love.  None of these excellencies darken or eclipse the other, but every one of them rather gives a lustre to the rest.  They mingle their beams and shine with united eternal splendour: the just Judge, the merciful Father, the wise Governor.  Nowhere does justice appear so awful, mercy so amiable, or wisdom so profound.” [22]

When we are overcome with our own sinfulness, the awesome majesty of the holy God, and the deep significance of the meaning of the cross of Christ, we will want to join with the hymnist and sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! 
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.

Holy, Holy, Holy!  All the saints adore thee,
Casting down heir golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
Who wert and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye of sinful man they glory may not see,
Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee
Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth and sky and sea;
Holy, Holy, Holy!  Merciful and Mighty! 
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity! [23]

Endnotes

2.  A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy.  San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1961, p.1.
3.  William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Romans: Chapters 1-8.  Grand  Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1980, pp. 259-60.
4. Psalm 2:11; 15:4; 19:9; 22:23, 25; 25:12, 14; 27:1; 31:19; 33:8, 18; 34:7, 9, ; 36:1; 40:3; 46:2; 52:6; 55:19; 56:4; 60:4; 61:5; 64:9; 66:6; 67:7; 72:5; 85:9; 86:11; 90:11; 96:9; 102:15; 103:11, 13, 17; 111:5, 10; 112:1; 115:11, 13; 118:4; 119:38, 63, 74, 120; 128:1, 4; 135:20; 145:19; 147:11.
5. Other verses on the “fear of God” (not comprehensive): Gen. 20:11; Deut. 6:13; 2 Chron. 6:31; Job 1:8; 24:14; 28:28; Prov. 1:7; 2:5; 3:7; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26-27; 15:16, 23; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; 24:21; 29:25; Eccl. 3:14; 12:13; Isa. 33:6; Jer. 2:19; 36:16, 24; 2 Cor. 5:11; Rev. 14:7.
6.  See The Practical Works of Richard Baxter: Select Treatises.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, reprinted 1981 (from 1863 edition), p. 188.
7.  Ps. 35:4; 51:7; Jer. 1:8; Ezek. 3:9; Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:4.
8.  These two studies are based on R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith.  Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992, chs. 16, 17.
9. R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God.  Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1985, pp. 54-55.
10. H. D. M. Spence & Joseph S. Exell (ed.), The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 7.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, n. d., p. 397.
11. Ibid., p. 398.
12. Ibid.,  p. 393.
13. The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 9, pp. 5-6.
14. Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God?  Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994, p. xvi.
15. The Lessons of History, pp. 50-51, in Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1981, p. 45.
16. The Pulpit Commentary, No. 9, p. 5.
17. A.W. Tozer, God Tells the Man Who Cares.  Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1992, p. 92.
18. Caleb Rosado, “America the Brutal,” Christianity Today, August 15, 1994, p. 24.
19. “Love, Fear and Obedience,” David Wilkerson, 17 August, 1992.
20. Charles Colson, The Body.  Milton Keynes, England:: Word Publishing, 1992, p. 383.
21. John F. MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel.  Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1993,  p. 63.
22. John Brown, Expository Discourses on 1 Peter, vol. 1.  Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1848/1975, pp. 472-473.
23. Words by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826; Music by John B. Dykes, 1861, being Hymn No. 60, The Hymnal.  Rosebery, N.S.W., Australia: Aylesbury Press, 1967.

 

Copyright © 2007 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 25 March 2017. This document last updated at Date: 22 May 2017.

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