VIDEO The Fear of God – What Does it Mean?

FROM R.C. Sproul Jan 12, 2018 

We need to make some important distinctions about the biblical meaning of “fearing” God. These distinctions can be helpful, but they can also be a little dangerous. When Luther struggled with that, he made this distinction, which has since become somewhat famous: He distinguished between what he called a servile fear and a filial fear.

The servile fear is a kind of fear that a prisoner in a torture chamber has for his tormentor, the jailer, or the executioner. It’s that kind of dreadful anxiety in which someone is frightened by the clear and present danger that is represented by another person. Or it’s the kind of fear that a slave would have at the hands of a malicious master who would come with the whip and torment the slave. Servile refers to a posture of servitude toward a malevolent owner.

Luther distinguished between that and what he called filial fear, drawing from the Latin concept from which we get the idea of family. It refers to the fear that a child has for his father. In this regard, Luther is thinking of a child who has tremendous respect and love for his father or mother and who dearly wants to please them. He has a fear or an anxiety of offending the one he loves, not because he’s afraid of torture or even of punishment, but rather because he’s afraid of displeasing the one who is, in that child’s world, the source of security and love.

I think this distinction is helpful because the basic meaning of fearing the Lord that we read about in Deuteronomy is also in the Wisdom Literature, where we’re told that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The focus here is on a sense of awe and respect for the majesty of God. That’s often lacking in contemporary evangelical Christianity. We get very flippant and cavalier with God, as if we had a casual relationship with the Father. We are invited to call Him Abba, Father, and to have the personal intimacy promised to us, but still we’re not to be flippant with God. We’re always to maintain a healthy respect and adoration for Him.

One last point: If we really have a healthy adoration for God, we still should have an element of the knowledge that God can be frightening. “It is a frightening thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). As sinful people, we have every reason to fear God’s judgment; it is part of our motivation to be reconciled with God.

“Throughout the Bible we are told to fear God. What does that mean?” and other questions can be found in our Questions Answered section.

Deity: The Fear of God | Dr. David Jeremiah

Today, Dr. David Jeremiah looks at a special kind of fear that every Christian should experience: the fear of the Lord. When was the last time someone encouraged you to be fearful? See more from Dr. David Jeremiah in the description below

Facing the Battles with God

In the Lord I take refuge. Psalm 11:1

The heroic deeds of US Army soldier Desmond Doss are featured in the 2016 movie Hacksaw Ridge. While Doss’ convictions wouldn’t allow him to take human life, as an army medic he committed himself to preserving life even at the risk of his own. The citation read at Doss’ Medal of Honor ceremony on October 12, 1945, included these words: “Private First Class Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them one by one to the edge of the escarpment. . . . He unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer.”

In Psalm 11, David’s conviction that his refuge was in God compelled him to resist suggestions to flee rather than face his foes (vv. 2–3). Six simple words comprised his statement of faith: “In the Lord I take refuge” (v. 1). That well-rooted conviction would guide his conduct.

David’s words in verses 4–7 amplified God’s greatness. Yes, life can sometimes be like a battlefield, and hostile fire can send us scattering for cover when we’re bombarded with health challenges or financial, relational, and spiritual stresses. So, what should we do? Acknowledge that God is the king of the universe (v. 4); take delight in His amazing capacity to judge with precision (vv. 5–6); and rest in His delight in what’s right, fair, and equitable (v. 7). We can run swiftly to God for shelter!

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

When have you experienced life’s hostile fire and been tempted to find shelter in something other than God? Can you recall times when God came to your rescue and your hope in Him was renewed?

Father, help me to see You more clearly than any force that opposes me and run to You for true safety and security.

The Restoration of Prayer

Psalm 51

There’s something refreshing about a cool shower after a hot, humid day spent working outside. All the filth and sweat is washed away, dirty clothes are replaced with clean ones, and you feel like a new person. Imagine having this kind of experience spiritually every day when you bow in prayer to confess your sins and receive cleansing. The weight of guilt is lifted, and you come away restored to the joy of your salvation. 

Last week, we learned about David and Bathsheba. Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of confession after having sinned against the Lord in connection with Bathsheba. In Psalm 32, which scholars believe also stemmed from this transgression, David speaks of the physical and spiritual turmoil he experienced when he tried to hide his wrongdoing and refused to acknowledge his sin (Psalm 32:3-4). After he finally humbled himself in repentance, the Lord forgave and cleansed him and removed his burden of guilt and shame (Psalm 32:5).

Confession is a privilege and a refreshing spiritual “shower” that renews us in our relationship with the Lord. We come away cleansed of sin, relieved of guilt, renewed in our love and commitment to Christ, and filled with joy and hope.

Remembered Through All Generations

“I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.” (Psalm 45:17)

The 45th Psalm is a beautiful Messianic psalm, speaking prophetically of the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the psalm is quoted by the writer of Hebrews, calling Him “God” and promising not only eternal remembrance but also everlasting dominion: “But unto the Son, he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom” (Hebrews 1:8, citing Psalm 45:6).

But the writer also said He would be remembered in all generations. That has proved true so far! As others have frequently noted, this man lived on Earth only 33 years, never traveled more than a few miles from His home, never wrote a book, never raised an army, never ruled over so much as a village let alone a kingdom, never married or had children, never enrolled for any formal education, and finally was executed as a criminal.

Yet, He has indeed been remembered through all generations following His all-too-short career 2,000 years ago—and remembered with love and deep reverence and gratitude by millions of people in all nations ever since. Furthermore, though He never wrote a book, others have written innumerable books about Him, while another psalmist assured us that His words would also be preserved “from this generation for ever” (Psalm 12:7).

And all this has come to pass! Herein is a marvelous thing! Indeed, He was, and is, God, and this was demonstrated by His flawless character, His amazing teachings, His unique miracles, His volitional, sacrificial death, and His mighty defeat of death itself by His bodily resurrection and ascent into heaven. HMM

What a Great Responsibility!

For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? —Revelation 6:17

What a great responsibility God has laid upon us preachers of His gospel and teachers of His Word. In that future day when God’s wrath is poured out, how are we going to answer? How am I going to answer? I fear there is much we are doing in the name of the Christian church that is wood, hay and stubble destined to be burned up in God’s refining fire. A day is coming when I and my fellow ministers must give account of our stewardship:

What kind of a gospel did we preach?

Did we make it plain that men and women who are apart from Christ Jesus are lost?

Did we counsel them to repent and believe?

Did we tell them of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit?

Did we warn them of the wrath of the Lamb—the crucified, resurrected, outraged Lamb of God?

With that kind of accounting yet to come, the question John hears from the human objects of God’s wrath is especially significant: “Who shall be able to stand?” (6:17). Who indeed?   JIV108

Lord, how am I going to answer?

To Want No More

Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. —Job 22:21

To know God, this is eternal life; this is the purpose for which we are and were created. The destruction of our God-awareness was the master blow struck by Satan in the dark day of our transgression.

To give God back to us was the chief work of Christ in redemption. To impart Himself to us in personal experience is the first purpose of God in salvation. To bring acute God-awareness is the best help the Spirit brings in sanctification. All other steps in grace lead up to this.

Were we allowed but one request, we might gain at a stroke all things else by praying one all-embracing prayer:

Thyself, Lord! Give me Thyself and I can want no more. WTA071

To be able to look into God’s face, and know with the knowledge of faith that there is nothing between the soul and Him, is to experience the fullest peace the soul can know. Whatever else pardon may be, it is above all things admission into full fellowship with God. JAS062

Turning Tragedy into Triumph

1 Corinthians 15:55

Never in history did such tragedy visit one life in a single day as on that dark Friday when Jesus stumbled to Calvary bearing the cross, carrying the world’s sin and guilt.

Crucifixions were reserved for the outcasts of earth. But Christ was no ordinary victim. He was the One of whom it was written, “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3).

The tragedy of this ignominious crucifixion of Christ, even in this day, causes the heart to cry out, “Why?” Why such blindness to the Spirit-filled, God-indwelt character of the Savior? But through the tragic darkness of that Friday shone a glorious light of salvation, purchased at tremendous cost.

The continuing tragedy is that there are still those who remain blind to the cross of Christ, who do not see the Light, but continue to live in the darkness of sin and doubt.

John 3:16 is a truth certified by Jesus when He gave himself on the cross, so that “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Today there are millions of Christians who not only can recite that familiar text, but can relate it to a personal Easter experience. The sacrifice of Jesus wraps John 3:16 around them in loving assurance.

“Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Paul’s joyous exclamations to the Corinthians are echoed by all Christians during Easter, when it is realized anew that Jesus conquered death. What consternation there must have been among His enemies when the stone was rolled away in the garden, and Christ stepped out from the tomb to reveal Himself, first to Mary, and later to other followers.

Having experienced such a shattering tragedy, how could His followers accept the truth of a resurrected Christ? The darkness of their spirits would be difficult to penetrate. But when Jesus visited them, giving proof of His triumph, a glorious light dispelled the darkness. They knew without doubt that Jesus had turned tragedy into truth and truth into triumph.

Hallelujah! He is still doing it in the hearts of men and women, who with the poet exult:

The head that once was crowned with thorns,

Is crowned with glory now!

John D. Waldron, The War Cry