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Making the Case to Teach the Biblical Fear of God

What will heal our land?
What will protect us?
Who will save our children?
There is a partial solution that has been ignored.

As we see the moral character of our nation continue to decline and worse yet, the increasing apostasy in the church today, what can possibly be done to repair this dilemma? The Biblical answer has shown itself to be capable of such ‘miraculous’ changes in history. The church holds the key.

First, is there a problem? There is a tremendous problem. We have spilled the blood of nearly 40,000,000 lives through the convenience of elective abortion since 1973. Marriages break up on an equal basis both inside and outside the church and millions of children are raised in single parent homes. Drugs, school shootings, anthrax attacks, sniper attacks, terrorism, HIV, sexual promiscuity, enormous corporate greed, the huge financial cost of the government waging war on these things both financially and at great expense of our freedoms, depression, religious confusion, and the many lives so entangled by these struggles are evidence of great pain and suffering. We really don’t want it to get worse, do we?

The World Trade Center towers sustained the initial blows and stood intact for some time before succumbing to steel melting heat generated by the intense flames. Early on, these towers actually appeared to have withstood the blows well and possibly could survive, judging from the appearance as they burned. The utter destruction was yet surprising once it occurred. As we see our nation having blow after blow from the problems such as listed above, how much long will the United States think we can survive only to eventually, suddenly implode?   As we burn, we wonder just when will the sudden total destruction occur? Perhaps it will not, but without repentance as a miraculous fire extinguisher, our doom is inevitable. Without a mechanism to extinguish the great heat that is ever increasing, we have a very limited amount of time till we are utterly destroyed.

If we should choose to return to Biblical values with each of the troubles listed above having been historically shown to decrease when the people embrace God’s commandments, there would be more wealth for the people, more freedom and more happiness with less governmental intrusion. This happiness is increased despite the increased discipline required by individuals to achieve such a peaceful existence and freedom to pursue righteousness as the founding fathers envisioned.

Amos 3:5 Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground where no snare has been set? Does a trap spring up from the earth when there is nothing to catch? 6 When a trumpet sounds in a city , do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?

As mentioned elsewhere in this site, the state of judgment has fallen upon us. As God is patient and merciful, He has been allowing us time to repent without yet allowing total destruction. As we look at history, this has also been the case through many Biblical examples as God punished Israel when the nation strayed, causing their destruction, loss of life, pain and suffering and enslavement. Only when they fell on their knees in humility and true repentance did God choose to rescue them from their captors (Babylonians, etc.). Often the warnings were given many years before the words of the prophets came true. This is not a reason to tarry. The heat is being turned up as we lose more and more freedoms and increased danger from terrorism and other forms of judgment that God is using to help us realize we need to seek Him and to turn back to Him.

George Mason (known as the father of our Bill of Rights) wrote in 1787:

Every master of slaves (similar to the abortion ‘issue’ today) is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgement of heaven upon a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1781:

God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just that His justice cannot sleep forever.

George Washington wrote in his 1789 Inaugural address:

The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.

John Adams on October 11, 1798 wrote:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Obviously our founding fathers knew if our nation lost our Christian character, we would be destroyed. God warned us of punishment when we stray.

Job 12:23 He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them.

Daniel 4:35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"

Psalms 89:30 "If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, 31 if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, 32 I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; 33 but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.

John 14:23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command .

1John 3:6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.

Christ tells us directly that if we truly love Him, we will obey what He told us to do. This is echoed in the Old Testament scriptures as well. Christ, as God, embraced the commandments given to Israel as He was without sin. This shows that if we fail to pursue righteousness and fail to follow His commandments, we simply do not love Him. If we do not love Him, we are not His sheep (we do not listen to His voice), and we find ourselves at extremely high risk of being tossed into everlasting torment in Hell- even if we theoretically ‘asked Jesus into my heart’ at some time in the past. Who among us keeps the commandments? Really? Even the commandment of the Sabbath and not to participate in commerce on this day?

Proverbs 16:7 When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

Isaiah 5:5 Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.

The above verses explain how our nation has been protected by God for many years. God would not have allowed the disastrous troubles occur to us as much as we find today by protecting us with His ‘hedge of protection’. We are at high risk of enemies both within our country and outside our nation.  We all know things will not significantly improve until…true repentance.

The next question is how can the pulpits and Christians be used by God to cause this change?

Given that God is love and that He wants us to come to Him, how is all this working together? As occurred in the Civil War and other times in history, God is working as He has over and over again. He is generally predictable by studying His Word. Since God is love, His greatest desire is for us to accept Christ, pursue righteousness and to be saved from Hell. We, naively, want comfort, want to be in control of our own lives and to do whatever gives us pleasure even though this generally leads to separation from Him.

The right perspective indicates we may need great turmoil in order to draw us to Him. His overriding goal, since He is love, is to draw us to Himself in order to save us from Hell. Therefore, whatever mechanism is available to work toward this may be used by Him to do just that. As in the past, punishment, judgment, pain and suffering clearly have an effect and will eventually save some so these things that we see as negative really work in our eternal favor. The sad part is that oftentimes this includes a tremendous number of deaths, destruction of property, rights and freedom. The Civil War was seen by many as judgment upon our nation for our slavery practices. The fear, danger and troubles that accompany wars have accounted for many to be saved in the past. The adage, ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’ has some truth.

Does this mean that there is no hope outside of the potentially horrible gloom and doom scenario outlined above? Thank God, no. God will heal our land if we repent, judging from the past. Can it be that we would repent without more painful judgment?  How many great men of God in this era have spent their years working toward this end but the nation continues to implode?  

There is a Biblical example where just that sort of thing occurred. Jonah, reluctantly, preached a message of the fear of God and His judgment of destruction upon Nineveh. They repented and God healed them.

Jonah 3: 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." 5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh , he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.

Why was our nation such a righteous nation at it’s inception? Our founders were largely righteous men with a strong love of God and fear of God. Historians have shown that our nation’s birth was on the coattails of the Great Awakening and the new Americans were almost universally strong Christians. People don’t change from one generation to another. People’s natural tendencies stay the same but their behavior will reflect their society and faith. What was it that the Great Awakening had that is different from the messages in the church today? People like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Bunyan, etc., were utilizing the Biblical principle of the fear of God. This is not only Biblical but also historically effective as seen both in the Bible and also in more recent history.

By no means is the fear of God of less importance than the value of God’s love but how can one know the depth of His love for us unless we know the tremendous amount of grace He has chosen to lay upon us? The depth of our understanding of His love is dependent on the fullness of our understanding of the fear of God. (See here the story of the song Amazing Grace) Let’s see how Biblical such a concept of the fear of God really is, we know that it historically has made a difference.

Joshua 4:24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God ."

Psalms 34:11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Job 28:28 And he said to man, `The fear of the Lord--that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'"

Isaiah 66:2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

Isaiah 6:5 "Woe to 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."

Exodus 20:20 Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

Luke 12:4 "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear : Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

These are only a small collection of the verses indicating a true fear of God is an integral part of His plan for our salvation. What is the most important realization any of us need to signify wisdom? The most important understanding any of us need is that we are sinful and in desperate need of a Savior for eternal life in Heaven. Nothing else is more important and wisdom is necessary to come to this conclusion. If the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom then in order to have any wisdom, we must have the fear of God. If we have the fear of God, wisdom will then pull us to a saving knowledge of Christ. Indeed, in order to become a Christian, it is reasonable that we must have a fear of God.

Why isn’t this preached in the American pulpits? We hear watered down definitions of the fear of God as watered down current definitions of ‘honor and respect, etc.’ (discussed elsewhere). It could be synonymous to "awe" but in our century, we have again watered down this term.

Webster's 1828 dictionary defined it so:

AWE, n. aw. [Gr. to be astonished.] 1. Fear mingled with admiration or reverence; reverential fear.  Stand in awe and sin not. Ps. 4. 2. Fear; dread inspired by something great, or terrific.

AWE, v.t. To strike with fear and reverence; to influence by fear, terror orrespect; as, his majesty awed them into silence.

It is simply not an option to water down the truth of the fear of God.

First, it is dishonest in that it negates the true meaning of the scripture. Second, it is more palatable to those listening to a sermon but by doing this, we end up with a church that is an inch deep and many miles wide when Christ told us to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19) pursuing righteousness from a background fear of God. Jonah’s approach was teaching a true fear of God when he finally warned Nineveh. What about Whitefield, etc.? These preachers risked life and sustained multiple injuries to stand firm for the message. Many were hit with stones, beaten up, etc. Where are similar preachers today? Sadly, not in America and it shows. American pastors fear man, not God.

Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.

Third, and most disturbing, many will perish as they fail to hear something that would ‘keep them from sinning’ and will embrace a theology centered around saying the sinner’s prayer but having never fully committed themselves to pursuing righteousness, putting them at high risk of hearing ‘depart from me I never knew you’. Fourth, our nation is under judgment because of this failure of the church. If we had stood firm to the truth, righteousness would be found more often and we simply would not have to go through all the pain and suffering that is opening up to cause us great discomfort and even death. Fifth, our sinful nature, not in check because of our ignorance of God’s fear, leads us into more failures that will affect our children (such as promiscuity, divorce, etc.). God may just choose (or has chosen) to turn us over to our sins.

1Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

Matthew 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

In order to be more complete and to respond to a reasonable concern, let us see if the claims made on this page stand up to the scrutiny of other scriptures that apply as well.

1John 4:15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Here we see another emphasis regarding the concept of fear. This actually confirms the claims made here in this way. Perfect love drives out fear. How do we get to this point? This shows the opposite side of the same coin. As above, first we are convicted by the fear of God (the beginning of wisdom- first things first). Yes, true fear. As we realize the incredible depth of His love and grace, the emphasis from the fear of God to pleasing Him eagerly as we choose to be a bond-servant out of a reciprocal love shifts the emphasis as love increases.

We cannot forget that our love for Him indicates we will follow His commandments (John 14:23-24 above). We must constantly be reminded of the fear of God, although the fear of damnation is lost with confidence when we develop a deep love of Him. How many of us pretend to love Him, similar to Judas with a kiss when he betrayed our Savior, but really don't know Him?  As long as we test ourselves and refresh ourselves in the fear of God, we will avoid sin. Each time we test ourselves through contemplating our sins as we hear the fear of God messages and the depth of depravity we came from, God will then pour out His loving grace (His perfect love) so we are comforted and then can stand without fear (v.18). Our deepening love will work in conjunction with this force in the pursuit of righteousness.

Fear is driven out by perfect love when God fearing individuals are secondarily comforted by God’s love and grace, for the same end effect of righteousness. This is no reason for the pulpits to continue the silence on the fear of God, something God told us to teach. Like communion, this is another opportunity for us to reflect our standing with God. Those who can stand firm through such messages will not be harmed by them and will be strengthened in their deepening love of their Savior. Those who become convicted need to be more diligent and by hearing such a message, you may rescue them from eternal condemnation. This is not comfortable for them but obviously is scripturally much more important.

Isn’t this the same as we see in Biblical examples of the fear of God? When God’s glory is even partly revealed to godly men (Isaiah, Moses, John, etc.) who become extremely fearful, expecting immediate death from what they saw, God comforts them by saying "do not be afraid". It is presumptive arrogance that teaches us not to be afraid. It implies we are righteous, which we aren’t. It is never the first step in Biblical examples. Even godly men cannot bear His glory. It is God's choice to show mercy, love and comfort to them by telling them not to fear. We have no business teaching ‘do not fear’ (God), that is up to Him to comfort us at His discretion as it was in the Biblical examples. We should not fear anything or anyone else, though.

Or are we beyond hope and in the last of the last days as the scripture predicts?

Romans 3:18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

No one can tell definitively that we are the final generation. Israel had good times followed by bad times and multiple periods of judgment followed by repentance and rescue throughout history. We must continue with the assumption that God will move in our midst especially if the church truly embraces His unbending Word and develops the fear of God. The fear of God subsequently causes a pursuit of righteousness as we love Him more for the ever expanding volume of grace we find He has bestowed upon us. If we don’t, we are in great danger of being eternally destroyed as well. In some sense, it is our choice.  We simply do not have the right to assume it is over and there is no use in following the scriptural direction to save the lost.

In summary, by neglecting the truth of the Biblical true fear of God, we are out of balance.  We must have a revival or we may well be destroyed from forces within and outside of our nation as part of God’s judgment. What will cause a revival? Inviting the Holy Spirit to save us after an overwhelming realization of the fear of God. The fear of God will come before our salvation or our destruction for those who will be saved, judging from scripture and history. Surely we should prefer pursuing righteousness, secondary to the fear of God and therefore develop a deep love of Him from recognition of the great grace He has given us, instead of pain, suffering and death. It is our only hope. We do have hope, provided the pulpits do just that. Now. We cannot wait any longer.

How about you? You. Are you secure that you will be saved by a God who causes even the most righteous of men to tremble at the edge of death when only partially viewing His glory? Your good works are considered filthy rags to His great holiness.

Have you embraced a faith in salvation based on a simple prayer and yet do not do as He commanded? If you love Him you will keep His commandments. Then you will be exhibiting love toward Him. If you do this, you are likely to hear ‘well done good and faithful servant’. However, if you are counting on something you did years ago and not reciprocating love to Him as a bond-servant, you are walking on thin ice, in dire need of repentance and reconciliation to God. The cost of salvation? Totally free gift through Christ’s blood. The cost of maintaining such a state? He asks for your all, nothing can come before Him.

Facing Him on judgment day, as we all will, knowing we cannot possibly live up to His standards, we may stand confident only with Christ standing for us. Do we dare ignore the commandments that exhibit our love for Him? Will He stand with us if we do not love Him?

If you have any questions regarding salvation, search the scriptures for the answers. Feel free to email questions as well. Love takes away fear, love is shown when commandments are followed.

 

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