Monday, May 16, 2005

the Fear of God

Catechism on the Fear of God

"Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments" (Ps 112:1; Ps 147:11).

What is the importance of the fear of God?
Life lived without the fear of God or seeking his glory is empty of meaning: "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity". But the fear of God is the whole duty of man (Eccl. 12:13f). Our highest reason for living is to glorify God and our greatest good flows from it. This is bound up with the fear of God. (Deut 10:12ff; Ps. 112:1). If we would avoid the eternal ruin of our souls we must be brought to the true fear of God (Prov. 14: 27).

Who should fear God?
All people everywhere in all ages should fear God for ever and ever. At all times his "name is to be feared for ever and ever". This is the command of the everlasting gospel (Rev. 14:7). But especially his people are greatly to fear Him (Ps 34:9; Ps. 89:7; 1 Pet. 1:17; Ps. 86:11).

Are we to expect a time when the nations shall fear God as they should?
It is prophesied that the fear of God will be prevail across the face of the earth in the latter days. (Psa 102:15; Is. 59:19; Mal 2:5).

What is meant by the fear of God?
The fear of God encompasses all of the service that we ought to render to God: divine worship and duty in a spirit of sincerely seeking God's honour and fearing to displease Him. "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear." (Psa 5:7; Mic 1:6).

How are we taught the fear of God?
By the word of God only and not by the commandment of man (Is 29:13; Ps119:38; 1Jn 1:3-4).
In what way do God's people fear to displease Him?
Knowing the Lord as the Holy One of Israel, of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, they desire not to sin and offend God; like Job, they eschew evil, they hate it and depart from it avoiding it like a plague (Prov 16:6; Prov 8:13). The greatest evidence of the absence of this fear is the increase of sin especially when it is open, indulgent and unashamed (Ps 36:1). The fear of God is the treasure of the saints (Is 33:6). Either we depart from sin out of the fear of God or we forsake God because the fear of Him is not in us (Jer 2:19).

What does the fear of God especially focus upon?
The fear of God is focussed on the majesty of God in all that He is and all that He does. "That thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD" (Deut 28:58). "Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." (Isa 8:13). His sovereignty Who would not fear thee thou king of nations? His Goodness (Hosea 3:5; Jer 33:8,9; Jer 5:24) Forgiveness (Ps 130:3-4), His Holiness (Rev 15:24) Omnipotence (Jer 5:22). His Wrath (Ps 90:11; Ps76:7; Mt 10:28).

What is the difference between slavish and filial fear?
Slavish fear is forced (Matt 25:24-25; Luke 19:20), guilty (Gen 3:10, unbelieving (Rev. 21:8), hypocritical (2 Kings 17:32, 33 & 41) and afraid to offend God as Judge. It is only an occasional concern (Acts 24:25).
Filial fear is voluntary (Neh 1:11), truly reverent, joyful (Ps 64:9-10; Is 33:6), believing (Heb 11:7), sincere (Ps 119:33) and afraid to offend God as Father. It is a settled habit (Acts 9:13; Phil 2:12; Deut 14:23), fearing always lest the heart be hardened (Prov 28:14).

But is it not written that "perfect love casteth out fear"?
This fear is not the fear of God but slavish. There is no torment in the filial fear of God, rather it is loving and perfected in love.

What does the fear of God work in us?
The fear of God instils purity in us (Ps 19:9) and works godly sorrow (2 Cor 7:11). It makes us teachable (Ps 86:11; Job 34:22). It establishes our hearts (Ps 86:11; Jer 32:39-40) and enlarges them (Is 60:5). It gives contentment (Prov 19:23; Ps 25:12-13). It creates a prayerful spirit (Ps 145:19-20; 1 Kings 8:37-40); reverential thinking and speaking of God and any means whereby He makes His name and glory known (Mal 1:11&14; Mal 3:16; Lev19:30&26:2). Carefulness (Rom 11:20; Phil 2:11).

How does the fear of God relate to wisdom?
The fear of the Lord is wisdom and the root and beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7). This is heavenly wisdom. The fear of God makes a man truly wise by teaching him how best to live his life to the highest end. Those who reject God profess themselves to be wise but are fools.

How should the fear of God affect our daily life?
We should have the fear of God always before our eyes in everything (Rom 3:18). We should be afraid of sin and temptations to sin in anything and everything. Every moment is lived before God and unto God and therefore the fear of God should always be before us. It will affect even smallest things. Charity and submission to God's people (1 Kings 18:3-4; Acts 10:1-2; Eph 5:21). Nehemiah's self-denial and compassion for the people of God in their poverty as it impacted upon his status and calling as Governor of Judah is a mark of the fear of God. (Neh 5:15).

Who is our supreme example in the fear of God?
Christ alone manifested the fear of God in perfection. "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him . . . and shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord" (Is 11:2ff.). The fear of God is a mark of being conformed in some degree to the image of Christ.

Which saints excelled in the fear of God?
Many of the patriarchs excelled in the fear of God,Job and Isaac (Gen 31:42,53). Abraham's fear of God was tested in an ultimate way (Gen 22:12). Joseph particularly shows the holy fear of God in regarding the great wickedness of sin to be its offence against God. (Gen 39:9).

What are the blessings of the fear of God?
The blessings of God follow us domestically, ecclesiastically and nationally (Ps 128). We are guided by God (Ps 25:12). We are preserved and provided for by God (Ps 33:18-19; Ps 34:9-10). We are delivered in trouble (Ps 34:7; Ps 85:9). There is everlasting mercy and pity upon us (Ps 103:13&17). Our prayers are heard and answered (Ps 145:19-20).