The Fear of God is GoneMatt.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.
Acts 5:11 - And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Rom.3:18 - There is no fear of God before their eyes.
II Cor.7:1 - Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Rev.19:5 - And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
And now we live within the walls of the castle called “New Evangelicalism” where man is king and his whims are truth. And long, long ago the wicked dragon called the “fear of God “ was slain and the people felt much, much safer. That horrible dragon used to scare sinners and saints alike, and it would affect almost everything people believed. In fact, it would many times affect people’s behavior. And in those days when God’s people gathered to worship the Great King that dragon would somehow find his way into those meetings.
That dragon named the “fear of God” roamed around with impunity and even some who were not of the castle, which used to be called just “Evangelicalism”, seemed to live with that dragon in mind. But after many, many years that old dragon became an unbearable nuisance. The people of the castle who used to speak often about that dragon began to ignore it. And when others would mention the dragon the others would change the subject or even suggest that the dragon was a fable which had no place in these modern times. After a while the name of the castle was changed to include the word “New”.
And here we are in 2012 and that dragon has long since gone and our children do not even remember a time when the fear of God was a revelation, much less an influence in our lives. The church has absolutely no fear of God. The preachers live as if there is no God and the people push the pause button of their self centered lives long enough to attend one or more of the gatherings and fulfill the ancient traditions. These gatherings change nothing except to soothe many consciences. In fact, the god that is presented in those gatherings bears little resemblance to the God of Scripture. But the gatherings provide a forum for a brief kind of human fellowship.
What does the Great God see when He scans His kingdom today? He sees preachers acting like clowns. He sees great evangelical cathedrals built with the borrowed money from heathen institutions. He sees the need for staff grow exponentially in order to organize the activities and keep the sheep touched. He sees His people treat the Bible as a racing form that helps them become winners. He sees that prayer has become an elective which is mostly audited by the masses. He sees such shallow professions of faith that almost any tepid murmur repeated by instruction is considered a conversion.
Now it is impossible to actually see and understand a true revelation of the Living God and not have some fear for Him. I realize many preachers dilute the meaning of fear and change it into a benign reverence, but they are wrong. We should always have a deep and abiding reverence for our Great God and the Risen Christ, but we must also have a godly fear. Yes, we should be afraid. That does not diminish the intimacy with which we can approach our Savior, far from it. In fact, a godly fear only enhances our relationship with He who is our very life.
But without any fear whatsoever, we have created a god of our own choosing. And just by seeing the overall condition of the evangelical church we can see there is no fear of God. Who trembles? Who quakes in His presence? Who offers his life as a living sacrifice anymore? There is more portrayal of God as a blessor than there is as someone to be feared. When the Apostle John fell as though dead before the Risen Christ, just which God was that? And if that was our God, then where is that same fear and worship?
We have stripped God of His glory and the gatherings that should be about Him are now about us. Much of what takes place in those gatherings is designed for our excitement, our enjoyment, our blessing, our entertainment, and to alleviate any conviction that may come from God’s Spirit. After all, the preacher doesn’t seemed very concerned, and he is always smiling after the service, so what is there about which to worry? Church is now about us and not about Him.
And when Paul reveals that when Christ returns He will exact a fiery vengeance upon all the unredeemed inhabitants of this planet, why does that truth not actually resonate with God’s people? Is it because we do not really care, or more likely that we do not actually believe it? Let us be painfully honest here, if Jesus is coming back, and if when He comes He will bring a divine judgment upon this world, then how can we with a straight face suggest that our lives and church related actions actually mirror such a coming event? If we who profess His name are ambivalent, how can those without believe?
This is no game of doctrinal gotcha, or even a disagreement over gospel methodology. Little by little the church has lost the truth. Oh yes, we still have it on our statements of faith. We still mention these things once in a great while from the pulpit. Just enough to suggest we still believe it but not enough or with enough passion to support our contention that we do believe those truths.
And along with the fear of God the place called hell has also disappeared from evangelical speech, prayer, and practice. Who really thinks about hell except the weak minded who battle with depression and a fractured sense of personal security? But for those who are successful participants in this culture, well they have no need of a place called hell except for a quick mention in our systematic theology. But if we are to love and believe in the Person called Jesus, then we must exhibit a spiritual consciousness that inwardly and outwardly affects our very lives.
And that life transformation goes way beyond not drinking or smoking or cursing. It transcends just being a part of a local church or owning several Bibles. It travels beyond being a student of the Word or a full time minister. Under the immeasurable weight of Scriptural truth and the revelation of Who God is through the prism of the Lord Jesus Christ, our lives should be revolutionary and utterly remarkable in the midst of such hedonism and spiritual darkness. As it stands we blend very well and our moral and political mini-crusades are little more than irritants to the lost world.
But our lives are so much like those who do not believe that our faith is seen by others as nothing more than a source of comfort drawn from religious traditions handed down through the centuries. Fear? Are you kidding? We are more afraid of Sharia Law then we are the Risen Christ and His Word. All is quite and nice, peaceful and prosperous, until someone suggests that Iran may be building a nuclear weapon and then the church becomes afraid and supports any and all kinds of violence to alleviate our fears. And after we bomb Iran and reduce the nuclear threat we can return to an atmosphere that is quite and nice, peaceful and prosperous, and without the inconvenience of the fear of God.
So here we are behind the walls of the New Evangelicalism, safe and sound and free to create a representation of God which has been disfigured to accommodate our lives and our desires. This God, the God we preach, is not an irritant. He does not significantly meddle in our lives. And if we are a generous giver in our local church, this God never meddles. I mean after all, God has not given us the spirit of fear. Right?
Like Lou Costello once sang, “I fear nothing when I am in the right”! And the western church does not fear God. But we do fear one thing and one thing only. We fear anything that would encroach upon the comfort of our lives and the pursuit of the American Dream. That we fear.