We’re studying Christian basics: God has spoken. We are not to change His words but be changed by it.We must humble ourselves and become as little children or we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Eight great basic themes of God’s word: 1. God created everything. God created us in His image and likeness. 2. We all sin. We have all sinned and fallen shout of His glory. 3. Jesus Saves. God, in love, sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to save us from sin by His sacrificial death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection from the grave three days later. 4. We are called by God. God calls us to hear the gospel, believe it, repent (or turn) from sin to follow Jesus Christ, confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ isLord, and be baptized into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, for forgiveness of sin and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. From there we are to walk in newness of life in Christ, sharing the gospel with others and worshipping and living in His name. This call of God encompasses a lot. 5. We must choose (will we obey God’s call or not?) 6. God supplies us. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us. 7. Jesus will Judge. God has appointed a day in which to judge the living and the dead through Jesus Christ. There is a resurrection coming on that judgment day, and everyone will bow before Jesus Christ, confessing His Lordship. 8. Heaven or Hell: All will spend eternity in one or the other.
Today’s lesson focus is on two more first principles of God’s word: Fear of God and love of God. You can’t honestly read the Bible and say it teaches the love of God but not the fear of God. Neither can you read the Bible and say it teaches the fear of God but not the love of God. And let me clarify right off the bat here: When the Bible teaches the fear of God, it is talking about our response to God. We fear God, God does not fear us. But, when the Bible teaches the love of God it talks about both God’s love for us, and our response to God with love for Him. But for us, Fear God is first, Love God follows.
Let’s look at Deuteronomy 5 after God speaks the Ten Commandments to Israel, listen to the fear theyhave and God’s response to it. (Read 23-33) Is this not amazing? God’s voice just scared them to death and they respond saying, “We will obey!” God has their attention, does He not? And how does God respond to this fear? What does it say? Is God sad that they are fearful?
Is He sorry He has made them afraid? No! God wishes they could always have this in their hearts! What do you think of that? Is that the way you view God? Does God want the Signal Mountain Church of Christ to be filled with fear ofGod?
Now let’s look at Deut. 6:1-13. Can you really love the Lord your God if you do not fear Him? The Biblemakes this clear, when it comes to a sinner’s relationship with God, first comes fear, then comes love.
For all who have sinned, fear is the first right response to God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of
wisdom. It is the beginning of knowledge. Fear starts the engine of faith, while love provides fuel for
Matthew 10:24-39. Fear is going to drive our us and motivate our lives. Fear of men will make us fall,fear of God will make us faithful. Jesus told us to fear God before telling us: “anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Are we walking worthy of Jesus here in this church? Do we fear God so that we love Him in obedient faith? How can you love Jesus more than father, mother, son or daughter? What does it take to get you there? I’ll tell you, it’s the fear of the Lord that gets you there. Without it, you can’t follow Jesus faithfully. If the driving force of your heart and mind is not the fear of the Lord, you will fear something else more… and whatever you fear more is your god. Just as whatever you love more than Jesus is your god.
You might say, this is not first principles! This is too deep. This is not deep, it’s hard. And, yes, this isfirst principles! You can’t have faith in God if you don’t fear Him. You won’t love God in obedience if you don’t fear Him. Oh, you can fear Him and NOT love Him, that’s true. The demons do that! But you can’t love Him and not fear Him. Fear of God is the first step of faith in God for the sinner. What about the gospel of God’s grace??? Where’s the fear in John 3:16? Well, I’m glad you asked! The gospel according to 1 Cor. 15 starts with this: “Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures.” Do you know who is responsible for the death of the Son of God? What does the gospel say Jesus died for?
Our sins! That’s what killed Jesus. What does a man deserve who killed God’s own Son, the creator and Lord of the universe? In Acts 2, when Peter preached the gospel to thousands of Jews, they were cut to the heart! Why? Peter just told them that they had crucified God’s Christ, whom God raised from the dead and now exalted as Lord of all. Their fear begot faith, which begot repentance, confession and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Which sins? All of them. The greatest of which was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Lord of heaven and earth. Do we walk in the fear of the Lord today? If not, how can we walk in His love? I realize that perfect love drives out fear, and as soon as our love is perfected, we can talk about that. But for now, first principles have a lot to do with fear of God, and we do well not to rush to perfect love in order to avoid the fear of the Lord and the journey necessary for us to reach that perfect love. Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength… this commandment is the first and greatest commandment that the Holy Fear of God motivates us to embrace and practice.
Story… Jeffery Epstein died yesterday. He was 66, worth about 500 million. Owner of whole islands andhouses in Florida, a fancy home in Paris and one in New Mexico. He had his private jet, lots of expensive cars, lived in sensual indulgence, ran with presidents and royalty, also ran a sex trafficking ring with girls as young as 14. He was arrested recently, held until trial, and it appears he committed suicide. His life is a demonstration of the tragedy of one who loved the darkness rather than the light. If only he could have learned the fear and love of God!
Kathleen Parker ended her article on his life saying: Burdened with suprahuman fantasies and the means to explore them, it seems that Epstein became lost in his own fable. Wandering the skies in his private jet, enamored of his own mind and image, he forgot that he was merely mortal and may have flown too close to the sun. Confined now to a jail cell (with further punishment perhaps to come) — and removed from his luxurious kingdom, his freedom and the company of luminaries who suffused his ego with admiration — his suffering must be immense. And so richly deserved.