Calvary Road Baptist Church

“FEAR GOD”

Ecclesiastes 12.13

 

Turn in your Bible to Romans 3.18. When you find that verse please stand for the reading of God’s Word: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

I am continually struck in my conversations with sinners by the fact that they do not fear God. That is contrasted with that I remember of my own childhood. Growing up in a home that was not a God-fearing environment, I most certainly did know a kind of fear God. I even remember when I began to fear God in some way.

We did not go to church very often at all, perhaps a total of ten times before I went off to college. When we did go to church during my childhood, I had no sense that God was present in anything that was being done in the services we attended, or that anyone had any particularly reverent attitude toward God or the things of God.

On the contrary, I remember being horrified in a Sunday School classroom at one church when, before the teacher arrived, the church kids told dirty jokes and showed foul pictures they had drawn on the pages of their Bibles. That forever convinced me of the dangers of any child being in a church that did not make a concerted effort to impress upon young people the fear of God.

I also remember another episode, when I more consciously began to fear God. I was laughing and joking around with a good friend of mine one afternoon in his back yard. He would make some nasty comment and look up with fake horror and say, “I repent! I repent!” Then we would both laugh. A minute or so later I would do the same thing, pretend to be scared, and look up and say, “I repent! I repent!” Then we would laugh again. We did that all one afternoon. I was probably 11 or 12 years old at the time, and when I went home that day I thought about what we had done. My actions deeply disturbed me, a virtual pagan. My friend and I had mocked God. We had laughed and joked about fearing God. Afterwards I knew that what we had done was wrong, that there was nothing funny or amusing about fearing God. I decided then and there that I would never do anything like that again.

Oh, I sinned, to be sure. I have done many things I am ashamed of, many things that are completely wrong. However, I cannot remember ever mocking the fear of God in that way again. I cannot remember laughing in the face of God that way again. Little did I realize at the time what that first little step toward fearing God would mean in His dealings with me that would eventually lead to my conversion many years later.

As I think about you against the backdrop of that experience, I want to see you converted. Yet I also understand that for that to happen you must fear God. As Job 28.28 declares, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”

Understand, my friend, it is God’s will that you fear Him. Understand, as well, that it is necessary for you to fear God. Not like so many these days who claim to be Christians but who obviously do not fear Him. It is important, however, that your fear of God be an instructed fear, a tutored fear, an informed and proper fear, because there is a kind of fear toward Him that God does not want and disapproves of.

If a wild beast terrifies you, you will flee by running away from the beast. However, fearing God in that way is entirely wrong. Remember Adam and Eve hiding in the bushes after they ate the forbidden fruit and realized their nakedness? They exhibited the wrong kind of fear, which resulted in them fleeing from God.

The right kind of fear of God has the opposite effect. Such a fear will cause you to want to flee to God. However, you cannot come to God, as a sinner, because God is a consuming fire and He forbids it. The proper fear of God, however, the instructed fear of God, will motivate you to seek His Son, Jesus. You can come to Jesus, because He urges you to come. That is the kind of fear of God you need to have.

There is another thing you need to understand about this fear of God. In a sense, a sinner must choose to fear God. This brings me to our text for this morning, Ecclesiastes 12.13. Turn to that verse. Stand to read the text with me.

 

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

 

“Fear God.” That is a command. That is a directive. That is an order. You may not think it is possible for you to “fear God,” but that is only because you are somewhat unfamiliar with how the mind and heart works with such things as this.

Proverbs 16.3 tells us, “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” This means, if you will do right toward God you will start thinking right toward God. Decide to fear God, obey this directive, and you will start feeling fearful toward God. Most people do not fear God because they never arrive at the right decision, which is to choose to fear God. You are unpersuaded about the importance and the necessity of fearing God. Therefore, my sermon will deal with the reasons why you should fear God.

I will present to you seven reasons why you should fear God:

 

FEARING GOD ACKNOWLEDGES HIS NATURE

 

People who do not fear God only betray their ignorance of God. They only show their utter lack of awareness of God’s person, of God’s nature, and of God’s attributes.

In Genesis 31, we are given insight into the convictions of two men with regard to God’s nature, and whether or not He should be feared. In Genesis 31.42, we read that Jacob, in conversation with his uncle Laban, refers to God as “the fear of Isaac,” his own father. That description alone shows us the attitudes toward God of both Isaac and his son Jacob. Because those two men had experienced encounters with God, because they had seen Him work in their own lives, because they appreciated His majesty and might, they feared Him. Those who do not fear God are only those who have had no dealings with Him.

Were these men wrong for fearing God? Alternatively, did they have insight that most men do not have? My friends, even the pagan and idol-worshiping sailors of the boat the prophet Jonah was on had enough of an appreciation of God’s majesty and might, knowing that God was awesome and omnipotent, that we are told “then were the men exceedingly afraid” of God, Jonah 1.10.

If you consider God’s immensity, if you consider God’s power, if you consider God’s majesty and glory, if you consider God’s holiness, if you consider these and other attributes of God, then you will see the sensibility and the intelligence of fearing Him.

 

FEARING GOD IS THE GATEWAY TO SPIRITUAL TRUTH

 

Proverbs 1.7 declares to us “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,” or understanding. Solomon is pointing out to us that until you know to fear God you do not know much that is really worth knowing. Oh, you may be good in math. You may be an expert in physics or literature. However, if you do not know enough to fear God you do not know anything that will serve you well in preparing for eternity.

Psalm 111.10 and Proverbs 9.10 both declare to us “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” If wisdom knows the appropriate use of truth, then God’s Word points out that until you fear God, what you know about the implementation of truth really is not worth anything. It will not help you much.

So you see, with regard to gaining insight into spiritual truths, spiritual realities, eternal verities, the starting point is to fear God. Does this not make perfect sense, since God is the first cause, since God is most important, and since God is central to all existence and meaning? How very absurd, then, are these religions of the east and these religions of the so-called New Age.

My friend, if it does not begin with God it is so much foolishness. The fear of God is the beginning of understanding and of wisdom. You know nothing, and you are a fool, if you have not the sense to fear God. Recognize there are things you will never know until you fear God, because Psalm 25.14 declares to us, “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him.”

 

FEARING GOD PREVENTS STUPID AND PROVOCATIVE SINS

 

When David ordered the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant on a cart, the priests disobeyed God’s instructions for moving the Ark. They did not fear God, and therefore did not make the effort to obey Him. However, once Uzzah touched the Ark and God killed him, David became very afraid that day, wondering how he would move the Ark, First Chronicles 13.12. Therefore, it was fear that kept David and the priests from sinning stupidly in that way again.

Another example: Remember the midwives during the days of Moses? Ordered by Pharaoh to kill the boys being born to Jewish women, they refused Pharaoh’s command because they feared God, Exodus chapter 1. Their fear of God kept them from the sin of murder.

There are things I have contemplated doing that I did not do . . . because I fear God. The same is true of anyone who fears God, even if he is not saved.

Had Nadab and Abihu feared God they would not have offered strange fire and been killed by God.

Had King Saul feared God he would have obeyed God on two different occasions and the kingdom would not have been taken from him.

Had King Uzziah feared God he would not have provoked God and suffered a lifetime of isolation with leprosy.

You should fear God because there are some sins, some really stupid and provocative sins that you will commit unless you fear God.

Only the fear of God will keep you from certain sins.

 

DUTY DEMANDS THAT YOU FEAR GOD

 

What is “duty?” “Duty” is a binding moral obligation. It is simply the right thing to do. To not do your duty is just plain wrong. For example, it is just right to honor your mother. It is just right to honor your father. It is just right to honor the king.

Duty is what used to distinguish the British Empire from all other countries in the world. The British Empire had a core of people who were committed to doing their duty, to doing what the right thing a man ought to do for his country was.

There was a time when the United States Military Academy placed great value on duty. The motto of the Military Academy at West Point is “duty, honor, country.” Therefore, the concept of duty is unarguably important to everyone except those who are complete barbarians.

The concept of duty is important to God, as well. That is why, in our text, wise old Solomon urges the fear of God as “the whole duty of man.” If honoring your mom is an important and valuable duty, if honoring your father is an important and valuable duty, if honoring the flag and honoring the king is an important and valuable duty, then how important is that duty upon which all other duties are founded . . . the fear of God?

What folly it is to be patriotic but not fear God. What an insult to God it is to salute the flag but to refuse to honor Him? What is so wrong with sinners that they feel compelled to fulfill so many obligations, to properly recognize so many duties, while refusing the fundamental and foundational duty to fear God?

My friend, you ought to fear God because it is right. You ought to fear God because it is the proper thing to do. You ought to fear God because it is your duty to fear God.

 

YOU ARE COMMANDED TO FEAR GOD

 

You are commanded to fear God in our text. Solomon was writing under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He communicated in a perfect way the will of God on this subject. “Fear God.” That this command has been issued shows us that you are responsible to obey. Fear God because He commands you to obey Him, or die trying.

However, this fear of God is not limited only to those who are unconverted, as I mentioned earlier. First Peter 2.17 is very clear on this matter, with Peter writing, “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” This was written to Christians. Therefore, God wants everyone to fear Him. It is His right. It is what is due Him. To fear God is proper. As well, it is what He commands and demands from His creatures.

 

GOD’S PUNISHMENT EVOKES FEAR

 

You may not fear God because He is God. You may not fear God so that you will have insight to profound spiritual truths. You may not fear God to keep from committing stupid sins that will provoke God. Duty may not move you to fear Him, nor do His commands sway you. However, have you considered what He is going to do to you? What about His punishment?

Remember the maniac of Gadara? He was the demon-possessed man in Mark chapter 5, who had many, many demons in him. When Jesus asked the name of the demon who spoke through the man he said, “My name is Legion: for we are many.”[1] Those demons feared no mere man, but they were terrified of the Lord Jesus Christ.   Listen to what the demon said when Jesus approached: “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.”[2] You see, the demons were afraid because they know the lake of fire awaits them. This is why James 2.19 tells us that the devils believe and tremble. They tremble because they know what punishment awaits them.

How about you? Do you know what awaits you? Do you have any idea what is going to happen to you someday? You will die and then go to Hell. Of course, that causes many to fear Hell. That is a misplaced fear. There is nothing to fear of Hell. What is to fear is the One who will cast you into Hell.

Listen to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. I read from Matthew 10.28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Fearing other men is also a misplaced fear. All a human being can do is kill your body. However, Who is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell? God. So, fear God.

You do not fear God? You are not concerned about the fires of Hell? Burning flesh and perpetual darkness do not rattle you at all? I am not suggesting that you fear Hell. I am pointing out the necessity of fearing the One who will cast you into Hell if you do not get saved. Therefore, you had better fear God, because,

 

FEARING GOD IS PREPARATION FOR SAVING GRACE

 

Let me read several verses to you and then explain to you the implications:

 

Psalm 34.7: “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them...”

 

Psalm 66.16: “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.”

 

Psalm 85.9: “Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him.”

 

Psalm 115.11: “Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD.”

 

Psalm 119.79: “Let those that fear thee turn unto me.”

 

Psalm 145.19: “He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.”

 

If you do not fear God, you will not flee to Jesus for salvation. If you do not fear God, you will not seek safe refuge in Jesus. In short, fear of God is what the Puritans called an evangelical grace. It is a grace that leads a sinner to Christ.

The verses that I have just read establish several facts for your consideration:

·         First, deliverance comes to those who fear God.

·         Second, gospel preaching is primarily for those who fear God.

Until you fear God, you will reject the gospel, so why preach the gospel to those with no fear of God?

·         Third, if you fear God you are never very far away from being converted.

 

You need to fear God, my friend.

You need to decide to fear God.

If you do not decide to fear God it is almost certain you will never be converted, because God frightens only a very few sinners. Most sinners have to decide to fear God or they will never fear God.

However, you have to fear God rightly, for there is a kind of fear that produces wrong actions, such as when Adam and Eve hid from God. So, be instructed, be challenged, to fear God and flee to Christ.

Perhaps there will come a day in our church when your parents will fear God enough to work hard on Saturday nights to get sinners into church on Sunday. How that will convince you of your need to fear God.

The same is true of you unconverted people with so-called “Christian” friends. Maybe your friends will fear God enough someday to work hard on Saturday nights in our church outreach, and that will help to convince you of your need for this evangelical grace called the fear of God.

If that is not the case, I fear that you unconverted people will never fear God rightly and therefore will not flee to Christ for safe refuge from the wrath of God. Moreover, if you do not flee to Christ, you will flee from this church . . . eventually. You see, they all leave who do not fear God enough to come to Christ . . . eventually.

Shall we now bow for prayer? If you would like to discuss this sermon with me just let me know and I will contact you to set up an appointment.



[1] Mark 5.9

[2] Mark 5.7

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org