Preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle in Los Angeles, CA, on January 7, 2002.

"FEAR GOD"

Ecclesiastes 12.13

 

INTRODUCTION:

1. Turn in your Bible to Romans 3.18. Thatís page 1194 in your Scofield Reference Bible. When you find that verse please stand for the reading of Godís Word: "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

2. I am continually struck in my conversations with sinners by the fact that they do not fear God. But I remember in my own childhood, growing up in a home that was not a God-fearing home, that I most certainly did fear God. I remember when I began to fear God in some way.

3. We didnít go to Church very often at all. When we infrequently went to Church during my childhood I had no sense that God was present in anything that was being done in the Churches we visited, or that anyone had any particularly reverent attitude toward God or the things of God.

4. But I do remember laughing and joking around with a good friend of mine one afternoon. 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.

5. I was probably 11 or 12 years old at the time, and when I went home that afternoon I thought about what weíd done. My actions disturbed me. My friend and I had mocked God. We had laughed and joked about fearing God. But afterwards I knew that what weíd done was wrong, that there was nothing funny or amusing about fearing God. And I decided I would never do anything like that again.

6. Little did I realize at the time what that first little step toward fearing God would mean in Godís dealings with me, that would eventually lead to my conversion.

7. I want to see you converted someday. And since I know that fearing God is vital to your heart being prepared for conversion I want to speak to you about fearing God.

8. My friend, understand that it is Godís will that you fear Him. Understand, as well, that it is necessary for you to fear God. But itís important 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.

9. If you are terrified by a wild beast you will flee by running away from the beast. But 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.

10. The right kind of fear of God has the opposite effect. It will cause you to want to flee to God. But you canít come to God, as a sinner, because God is a consuming fire and He forbids it. The proper fear of God, however, will motivate you to seek His Son, Jesus. You can come to Jesus, because He urges you to come. Thatís the kind of fear of God you need to have.

11. Thereís another thing you need to understand about this fear of God. In a sense, a sinner must simply choose to fear God. This brings me to our text for tonight, Ecclesiastes 12.13. Please turn to that verse. Itís page 704 in your Scofield Reference Bible. Shall we stand and read that verse? "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."

11. "Fear God." Thatís a command. Thatís a directive. Thatís an order. But you donít think itís possible to "fear God" because you are somewhat unfamiliar with how the human mind and emotions work with such things as this.

12. Proverbs 16.3 tells us, "Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established." Which means, if you will do right toward God youíll start thinking right toward God. Decide to fear God, obey this directive, and youíll 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.

13. But you are certainly unpersuaded about the importance and the necessity of fearing God. So, my sermon tonight will deal with the reasons why you should fear God. I will present to you 7 reasons why you should fear God:

1A. The First Reason You Should Fear God? FEARING GOD ACKNOWLEDGES HIS NATURE

1B. People who do not fear God only betray their ignorance of God. They only show their utter lack of awareness of Godís person, of Godís nature, of Godís attributes.

2B. In Genesis 31 we are given insight into the convictions of three men with regard to Godís nature, and whether or not He should be feared.

1C. 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.

2C. Because those two men had experienced encounters with God, because they had seen Him work in their own lives, appreciated His majesty and might, they feared Him. Those who do not fear God are only those who have had no dealings with Him.

3C. Few men who have walked on the earth have been privileged with the intimacy with God that Moses enjoyed during his lifetime. And remember, Moses was the human author of the book of Genesis. So, in Genesis 31.53, when Moses is describing the actions of Jacob and himself refers to God as the fear of Jacobís father Isaac, it reflects his own appreciation of the nature of God.

3B. Were these men wrong for fearing God? Or did they have insight that most men do not have? My friends, even the sailors of the boat the prophet Jonah was on had enough of an appreciation of Godís 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.

4B. If you consider Godís immensity, if you consider Godís power, if you consider Godís majesty and glory, if you consider Godís holiness, if you consider these and other attributes of God, then you will see the sensibility and the intelligence of fearing Him.

2A. Next, Fear God Because FEARING GOD IS THE GATEWAY TO SPIRITUAL TRUTH

1B. Proverbs 1.7 declares to us that "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of understanding," or knowledge. So, Solomon is pointing out to us that until you know to fear God you donít know much thatís really worth knowing. O, you may be good in math. You may be an expert in physics or literature. But if you donít know enough to fear God you donít know anything that will serve you well in eternity.

2B. Psalm 110.10 and Proverbs 9.10 both declare to us that "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." If wisdom is knowing the appropriate use of truth, then Godís Word points out that until you fear God what you know about the implementation of truth really isnít worth anything. It wonít help you much.

3B. So you see, with regard to gaining insight into spiritual truths, spiritual realities, eternal verities, the starting point is to fear God. And does this not make perfect sense since God is the first cause, since God is most important, since God is central to all existence and meaning?

4B. How very absurd, then, are these religions of the east and these religions of the so-called New Age. My friend, if it doesnít begin with God itís so much foolishness. And the fear of God is the beginning of understanding and of wisdom. You know nothing and you are a fool if you havenít the sense to fear God.

5B. My friend, there are things you will never know until you fear God. Psalm 25.14: "The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him."

3A. Third, Fear God Because FEARING GOD PREVENTS STUPID AND PROVOCATIVE SINS

1B. When David transported the ark of the covenant on a cart they were disobeying Godís instructions for moving the ark. They did not fear God and therefore did not make the effort to obey Him. But 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. Fear kept David from sinning stupidly in that way again.

2B. Remember the midwives during the days of Moses? Ordered by Pharaoh to kill the Jewish boys being born, but they refused because they feared God, Exodus chapter 1. Their fear of God kept them from the sin of murder.

3B. There are things I have contemplated doing that I did not do . . . because I feared God. And the same is true of anyone who fears God, even if they are 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 and the kingdom would not have been taken from him. Had King Uzziah feared God he would not have provoked God and suffered a life of leprosy.

4B. You should fear God because there are some sins, some really stupid and provocative sins, that you will commit unless you fear God, and only the fear of God will keep you from certain sins.

4A. Fourth, Fear God Because DUTY DEMANDS YOU TO FEAR GOD

1B. What is "duty?" "Duty" is a binding moral obligation. Itís simply the right thing to do and to not do your duty is just plain wrong. Itís just right to honor your mother. Itís just right to honor your father. Itís just right to honor the king.

2B. Duty is what used to distinguish the British Empire from all other countries in the world. The Empire had a core of people who were committed to doing their duty, to doing what the right thing man ought to do for his country was.

3B. 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." So, the concept of duty is unarguably important to everyone except barbarians.

4B. The concept of duty is important to God, as well. Thatís 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?

5B. 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? Whatís so wrong with sinners that they feel compelled to fulfill so many obligations, to properly recognize so many duties, while refusing the duty to fear God?

6B. My friend, you ought to fear God because itís right. You ought to fear God because itís the proper thing to do. You ought to fear God because itís your duty to fear God.

5A. Fifth, Fear God Because YOU ARE COMMANDED TO FEAR GOD

1B. 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.

2B. And this fear of God is not limited only to those who are unconverted. First Peter 2.17 is very clear on this matter, with Peter writing "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king." And this was written to Christians. So God wants everyone to fear Him. Itís His right. Itís what is due Him. To fear God is proper. And itís what he commands and demands from His creatures.

6A. Sixth, Fear God Because GODíS PUNISHMENT EVOKES FEAR

1B. 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 His command sway you. But have you considered what Heís going to do to you? What about His punishment?

2B. Remember the maniac of Gadara? The demon possessed man 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." 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." The demons were afraid because they know the lake of fire awaits them.

3B. How about you? Do you know what awaits you? Do you have any idea whatís going to happen to you someday? You will die and then go to Hell. And that causes many to fear Hell. But thatís a misplaced fear. There is nothing to fear of Hell. Whatís to fear is the One who will cast you into Hell.

4B. 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. But Who is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell? God. So, fear God.

5B. You donít fear God? Youíre not concerned about the fires of Hell? Burning flesh and perpetual darkness donít rattle you at all? Iím not suggesting that you fear Hell. I am pointing out the necessity of fearing the One Who will cast you into Hell if you donít get saved. So, youíd better fear God, because,

7A. Finally, FEARING GOD IS PREPARATION FOR SAVING GRACE

1B. 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."

2B. 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. Itís A grace that leads a sinner to Christ.

3B. And these verses that Iíve just read establish several facts for your consideration:

1C. Deliverance comes to those who fear God.

2C. Gospel preaching is primarily for those who fear God. Until you fear God you will reject the Gospel.

3C. And if you fear God you are never very far away from being converted.

CONCLUSION:

1. 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 but few sinners. Most sinners have to decide to fear God or they will never fear God.

2. But 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. Fear now. Flee now.

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