Cross Points 6.4.22

The Fear Of The Lord, Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at how “the fear of the Lord” is a common reaction when people throughout history have encountered God’s messengers.  We cannot stand boldly before the Lord with face-to-face encounters, we cower in his presence, fall on our face, bow before him.  In the book Recovering Our Sanity by Michael Horton, he says “a sure disproof of someone reporting a vision of God or a message from God is if they describe it as a casual conversation.”  We cannot be casual when faced with the living God!  Too often a Christ-follower will start with the truth of scripture but then wander to a self-proclaimed truth of their own making.  We must guard against this.  John Calvin once said, we can begin with the truth, but then “deliberately befuddle ourselves.”  Without a fear of the Lord, this can happen.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” we are told in the Proverbs (9:10).  We have many unwise people today, way too many of them calling themselves “Christian” while absent of this fear.  They have what Dietrich Bonhoeffer would have called “cheap grace,” which means they rely solely on God’s love and grace without acknowledging their need to respond with true faith in obedience.  We are saved by grace, true, but through faith, and real faith responds to the object of our faith (Jesus).  An appropriate fear drives us that way; without it we fool ourselves and live haphazardly.
“If you, O Lord, should mark our iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (Proverbs 130:3, 4).  Will there be a price to pay for those who reject God, who push him away, who refuse his offer of salvation?  Indeed!  I do not pretend to understand all the potentials of God’s eventual judgment, but I know this: He offers to pay the price for us through Jesus!  Yet we must be “in Christ” wrapped in his cloak of perfection that hides our imperfection (Gal. 3:27). Otherwise, when confronted by an angel or any heavenly messenger, they must tell us “Fear not” because how could they have anything but bad news for us due to our sinfulness.  Unless we have Jesus!
I remember talking to my dad one time about several people we knew who became Christians later in life.  I asked him what the common denominator was for them?  He said it was age.  People hide from the reality of death (what we all face if we are honest with ourselves), but as we grow older, we must face up to the reality.  It becomes too real as our bodies age and things fail to work properly, as family and friends of similar age grow weak or die.  Suddenly faced with our mortality, we start having at least a sense of this fear of the Lord needed, which causes some, at least, to take the needed action. 
“You ask me how I know he lives; he lives within my heart,” says the old hymn.  We don’t want Jesus living only in someone’s heart (the non-Christian can have a “heart” or feel-good faith), we want to recognize that Jesus lives bodily, truly resurrected from the dead!  Death is real, judgment is real, but so is life after death because of what Jesus did for us!  If Jesus was not raised from the dead, Paul says, our faith is useless, we are to be pitied (I Cor. 15). But he was raised from the dead, the first fruit of those who will follow in faith.  “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others,” the Apostle Paul says.  Recognizing Jesus as Judge and Savior, this healthy fear contains ultimate respect.  Fear him.
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