What Has Happened to the Fear of God?
by Albert N. Martin
“The fear of God is a massive and dominant theme in Scripture.”
Having made what to many sounds like an audacious assertion, we must back it up. Thankfully we can indeed demonstrate from Scripture that this is not over-the-top. The compelling evidence is found in the fact that there are many key specimen passages from Genesis to Revelation which validate these stark opening words. Thus, this claim constitutes the inevitable conclusion to which anyone will come to who is willing to let the voice of Scripture itself be heard as it speaks on this vital theme.
But what does it mean to fear God? A helpful, Bible-based definition of the fear of God demonstrates that there are basically two kinds or varieties. One of these fears, described as the “fear of dread and terror,” is fundamentally removed by the grace of God when a man or woman experiences a genuine Spirit-wrought conversion (1 John 4:18). The other of these fears is the “fear of awe and reverence”—the fear that is implanted in a believing sinner’s heart by that same grace (Jeremiah 32:40). Having set forth these foundational issues, it is then important to understand other vital aspects and its characteristics, namely, the ingredients of the fear of God; the source of the fear of God; and the relationship of the fear of God to our ethical and moral conduct.
But how should this affect me? Well, if the reader has grasped these aspects of the Bible’s teaching concerning the fear of God, he will then be led to ask the following imperative question: “How may I attain, maintain, and increase the fear of God in my own personal Christian experience?” Again, the answer is found by looking to the Scriptural precepts, precedents, and principles related to the subject of the fear of God. That is our only authority. That is where we find all the answers to life’s greatest questions, including that of our own salvation through this God whom we must fear in a biblical manner.
One more vital question: “How should the fear of God shape the contours and create the atmosphere of our worship of God?” This question is answered by directing the reader’s attention particularly to Hebrews 12:18-29, with a special focus upon verses 28-29.
What a vital topic! Do you fear God? Do you fully grasp the magnitude of what that means? If you do, it will transform your life. I close this brief introduction to the book by quoting a paragraph from the Foreword written kindly by Dr. Geoff Thomas:
The solemn distinctive of a world that has rejected Christ is “there is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18), while the voice from heaven addresses the world, crying out, “Fear God and give glory to him” (Rev. 14:7). Fearing God is not some option for a few special Christians. It is foundational to all who name God as their God—an utterly essential mark of true religion. A stranger to the fear of God is a stranger to the living God himself. This grace must characterize all true Christian worship under the blessing of God.
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