This year’s theme is ‘Your Kingdom Come’.
Our recent activities have included praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and seeking spiritual gifting. I can’t encourage you enough to continue to seek the filling of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.
And we have been looking at love as the necessary essence of both the Kingdom coming and the receiving and use of spiritual gifts.
But the love that we have been focussing on over the last few weeks has primarily been love for other people.
Love for God is different. 神への愛は違います。
Love for God includes the same love that we have for people but there is more to it. And knowing this is crucial to living the Christian life and to seeing the Kingdom of God come in our lives. If we only ever love God with the same love we have for people, our faith will remain small and immature. Love for God is not more in the sense of intensity of feelings. It’s not the same love (toward people) multiplied (toward God). It’s more than that. There are whole other dimensions of love that must be nurtured and expressed when we love God. Here are three key dimensions of this love:
Adoration.あがめる We adore God with a passion and devotion that would be inappropriate to give to people.
Worship.礼拝する We worship God out of love. Our love for God is so all-encompassing in our lives that it makes our greatest loves on earth appear to be hatred by comparison. (Luke 14:26)
Fear.畏れる This is what I want to talk about today. The fear of the Lord. Our love for God increases as we understand who He is, and as we understand who He is, our sense of holy fear must also grow.
John Bevere’s story.
The fear of God is mentioned 145 times in the Bible. It’s so vital to living true, mature Christian lives.
Here are some key verses:
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 10:12
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 111:10
Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. Acts 9:31
We have been studying the fear of God in our mid-week Bible studies recently. Psalm 145 exalts God in lavish terms for both his love and faithfulness, and for his righteousness and judgement.
God is to be loved and feared.
Where love for God increases, so the fear of God must also increase. We must love and fear God to live righteously.
There is a danger to loving God but not fearing Him. We call it ‘cheap grace’. This is where we think it doesn’t really matter how we live our lives because we know that God, in His mercy, loves us with an amazing love and He will ultimately forgive whatever we do wrong. That’s cheap grace. Those to whom Jesus said, “I never knew you, away from me you evildoers” were people living on cheap grace.
I’ve shared with you before what the disgraced evangelist Jimmy Bakker said from his prison cell. He said that in all His wicked ways he never stopped loving God. But he stopped fearing Him. And that was the difference between living a godly life and an ungodly one.
The grace of God should never and can never take away or diminish the fear of God. Because grace doesn’t only cover sin, it empowers against sin.
True grace desires holiness. If we claim to love God but have no desire to be holy, then we must question whether we are truly under His grace.
If we are truly under God’s grace then we will have both the love and the fear of the Lord in our hearts.
2. Order, Glory, Judgement
I’d like to explain in Biblical terms why the fear of God is needed/important.
It’s because where divine order increases, the glory of God increases. And where the glory of God increases, the judgement of God increases.
As we draw near to the glory of God through the filling of the Spirit, the coming of His Kingdom and in seeking spiritual gifts, we are at the same time drawing nearer to the judgement of God.
When you look at the times in the Bible when the glory of God was most powerfully manifest – the giving of the 10 commandments, the crossing of the Red Sea, the completion of the tabernacle, Pentecost, and so on, these events followed divine order (the following of God’s instructions) and they preceded divine judgement (the punishment of people who dishonoured God).
When the tabernacle had been completed. God gave very specific instructions how the tabernacle was to be completed and used. Divine order was established. The Israelites completed it perfectly and the glory of God filled the tabernacle as a consuming fire. Then Aaron’s sons offered “unauthorised fire” before the Lord and they were killed for it. Why? Samuel’s son’s did much worse things and they weren’t struck down. David did worse things than that and he wasn’t killed. I could give a very long list of Biblical people who did worse things than that and nothing happened to them. Why were Aaron’s sons punished so harshly?
After Pentecost, Ananias and Sapphira lied to Peter and to the Holy Spirit about their offering and they immediately fell dead. Why? Other people in the New Testament did much worse things. Paul for one!
The reason in both cases is that where the glory of God increases, so the judgement of God increases upon the unrighteous. Aaron’s sons and Ananias and Sapphira were dishonouring God in the midst of powerful manifestations of God’s glory. And they were punished severely for it.
Divine order precedes divine glory. And divine glory precedes divine judgement.
Without the fear of God, there can be no divine order.
Without divine order, there can be no divine glory.
When glory comes and there is no fear of God, then there is divine judgement.
The closer the judgement is to the glory, the harsher the judgement.
And when we look at the second coming we will see full glory and full judgement.
3. Seeking the glory of God
Now, I don’t want to deter you from seeking the glory of God because of fear of punishment! Not at all! I want to encourage you to seek the fullness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life and to do this with a fresh love and a holy fear of the Lord. Because this is the way to living a full life and to experience the unspeakable joy of God that is promised to us.
Continue to seek the Kingdom of God. Continue to seek the baptism and gifting of the Spirit. But be sure to have both love and a holy fear of the Lord because that’s when great things happen. That’s when great blessings follow.
So this is a call to reject casual living. It’s a call to reject compromise. To reject selective obedience. To reject lukewarm prayer. To reject delay. To reject cheap grace. To reject resisting the Holy Spirit.
気まぐれな生き方を拒む 妥協 選んで従う いい加減な祈り 遅らせる 聖霊を拒む
This is a call to embrace the fear the Lord, to embrace holiness, to embrace the truth, to embrace having your heart searched, to embrace divine order, to embrace the filling of the Holy Spirit, and to embrace the worship of God.
主への畏れを受け入れる 聖なること 真理 心を探ってもらう 神の秩序 聖霊の満たし 神を礼拝する