The Fear of God: Lost and Found | Part Two

June 10, 2016

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey | Pastor
First Baptist Church, Spanish Fort, AL

II. The fear of God promotes a spiritual formation of life.   

Beware of any “spiritual formation” that is not solidly based upon the fear of God.  Psalm 19:9 reads, “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. . .”  Of course, the Psalmist refers to the Word of God in this verse.  We refer to spiritual formation in a qualified sense, for example, when I refer to mediation I do not promote all forms of meditation.  Therefore, when I refer to spiritual formation, I do not promote all expressions of it.  I refer only to disciplines taught in Scripture as channels for spiritual growth and discipleship.  There is the subtle tendency to seek extra-biblical practices to promote spiritual growth and development.  Discipleship must be based on biblical truth not experience.  Experiences must be tested by the Scriptures not the other way around.  Dr. Gary E. Gilley, author of Out of Formation: Spiritual Disciplines of God and Men, explains, “One of the problems facing the evangelical church today is that too many men and women are setting themselves up as the final authority on the Christian life. We need to remember that no matter how famous, successful or popular Christian leaders may become, their authority rests solely on the revealed Word of God, not their own personality or intellect.”

Thomas Herbert Darlow explains, “Paul exhorts us to perfect holiness in the fear of God, he expresses the very genius of Christianity, which is nowhere so manifest as in the Person and words of Christ Himself.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 reads, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  Darlow further explains, “This character is perfected in holiness—because it bore about with it ‘a certain hidden, isolating, constraining, ennobling fear.  Christians who are tender and generous and winning fail conspicuously in dignity and simplicity, in courage and detachment, because they have lost that fear of God without which we cannot be made perfect.  Like no other motive, it can make us shrink and shiver at the thought of sin.  It can redeem us from common ambition and frivolity, from insincerity and timeserving and respect of persons.  It can cast out and conquer all meaner fears.  And it alone can keep us continually humble, under a sense of the divine mystery of God’s will.

The living mystery of His will—to realize this would be to have God’s pure and holy fear revived in the church once more, and restored to the world.  And such a revival may in His mercy be drawing nearer than we sometimes dream. . . [A] new reformation. . . will be born out of the recovery of that same fear of the Lord which has thrilled and nerved every true prophet and protestant since reformations began. . .”

Learn to fear the Lord your God by receiving the truth.

Receive the truth by reading.  Deuteronomy 17:19-20 reads, “And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.”

Receive the truth by hearing.  Deuteronomy 31:12-13 reads, “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, 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.” (Emphasis mine)

Learn to fear the Lord your God by giving the tithe.  Deuteronomy 14:22-23 reads, “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.” (Emphasis mine) This is a way to remember what the Bible teaches about tithing:

Abraham commenced it (Genesis 14)

Jacob continued it (Genesis 28:22)

Moses commanded it (Leviticus 27)

Malachi confirmed it (Malachi 3:7-11)

Jesus commended it (Matthew 23:23)

Who am I to cancel it?

Psalm 119:63 reads, “I am a companion of all who fear You, And of those who keep Your precepts.”

Are you living a life formed by the fear of God?

III. The fear of God produces a theological focalization in life.  

The term “theology” means, “the field of study and analysis that treats God and of God’s attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth.”  Simply put, theology is “the study of God.”  The term “focalize” means, “To bring to a focus or become focused.”  The fear of God gives us a God focused life.  Someone said, “Those who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything.”  In a similar way we could say, “Those who fear God will eventually find God at work in everything.”

Thomas Herbert Darlow explains, “It was the Son of Man who says to His own friends, ‘I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear.  Fear Him who after He hath killed hath power to destroy both soul and body in hell.’”  Remember Matthew was written to the Jewish mindset and Luke was written to the Greek mindset.  Matthew 10:27-31 reads, “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.  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.  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Emphasis mine) Luke 12:4-7 reads, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.’” Paul writes in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 3:18 reads, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Revelation 3:14-22 reads, “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—  I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Emphasis mine) Many are out of focus like those in Laodicea, who were “blind. . . [to whom the Lord says] anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”  After the church is caught away (Revelation 4:1) we read in Revelation 14:6-7 reads, “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—  saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’”

Are you living a life focused with the fear of God?


Are you living a life founded on the fear of God?

Are you living a life formed by the fear of God?

Are you living a life focused with the fear of God?

2 Corinthians 5:9-11 reads, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”  If you had it at one time but do not currently have it, may the story of your life demonstrate the fear of God lost and found.

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Doug Sayers

Another excellent post Franklin, meat and potatoes, thanks.

There may be one who objects that the great commandment is to love God – not fear Him; but it takes wisdom to love Him and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

There may also be one who would argue against your emphasis here with 1 John 4:

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

I would be interested to know how you understand / reconcile this. I tend to think that to the degree that we fall short of loving God with all of our hearts… we still should fear Him. This is the deliberate tension in 1st John to keep us from both paralyzing fear and careless presumption. I think we all begin our relationship with God much like Peter on the water, “LORD SAVE ME!” But we can finish like Paul who knew Who he believed in and was anxious to die and be with Christ. As we grow in grace, knowledge, and obedience the fear does get incrementally displaced by love, contrite boldness in facing judgment, and the joy that John talks about. But I have never met a believer who claimed to love God perfectly.

Franklin Kirksey

Thank you for your encouragement Doug! The issue you raise is a good one. For those who seriously study the Word of God as you, grappling with these issues is a humbling thing to say the least. It is equally difficult to hold in our mind the fact that God is love, and at the same time holy, just, and expresses wrath. Paul seemed to hold a healthy tension between the confidence he placed in the Lord and the fear of becoming a castaway. Thank you for thinking deeply about things that really matter!

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