People, especially church-going people, like to talk about God’s love. It’s easy to talk about God’s love. The most famous verse in the New Testament, and perhaps the whole Bible, is probably John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The love of God makes us feel good.
A topic that is not quite as popular is the fear of the Lord. We are out of our comfort zone when we talk about ourselves being under the authority of an all-powerful, all-knowing God. The desire to have control over our own affairs (“No one tells me what I can and cannot do!”) is part of our lives. Whether we realize it or not, in our hearts we gravitate toward rebellion against God because we want more. More what? More everything.
All too often we are discontent with what God has provided for us. We fail to fear Him because we are not satisfied with what He gives us. We do not show Him the proper respect because we feel He is not given us our due. This is the tragic tale of man in his fallen state.
It has been said that the Bible talks about the fear of the Lord about twice as much as it talks about the love of God. Thus, it is crucial to every person who ever lived to understand what the fear of the Lord is. The Old Testament book of Proverbs gives us a clue in a few places. Here are two:
- “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
- “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
Knowledge. Wisdom. Instruction. Understanding. But wait, there is more.
- “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way.” Proverbs 8:13
Hating evil is an attribute of the fear of the Lord. So how does one know what is evil, as defined by the Lord? How does one gain this knowledge, this wisdom, instruction, and understanding? We must know what He has said concerning these things. This knowledge comes from the reading and study of His Word, the Bible. Consider some of the last words of the apostle Paul to his student, Timothy:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
Human hands wrote the words, but God was the author. And as the phrase goes, words mean things. It is not enough to say the Bible is God’s Word. It is not enough to say it is all true. It is not enough even to read the Bible. God commands us, through His Word, to study His Word to present ourselves approved to God (2 Timothy 2:15). Words mean things, and God has commanded us to know the meanings.
We must not run away from theology. I have heard it said, “Don’t give me theology. Just give me Jesus!” The flaw in that train of thought is that it is impossible to have Jesus without theology.
What is theology? It is the combination of two Greek words actually, “theos” and “logos”, which mean “God” and “word” respectively. Theology is the word on God, the study of His nature, the pursuit of truth about who God is.
If the fear of the Lord, mentioned twice as much as His love in Scripture, is the beginning of knowledge, wisdom, instruction, and understanding, how can we run away from theology? How can we ignore and avoid digging into the deep things in Scripture?
There is nothing more important for you in this world than your understanding of God, and how you relate to Him. Scripture is clear that there are two roads of travel. In Matthew 7:14 Jesus said, “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Broad is the path that leads to destruction. Which road are you on?
So many so-called Christians do not talk about the Gospel. Maybe they think it gets boring after awhile. Perhaps they think discussion of it is for the new Christian. They might feel like there are deeper, more important things to start concentrating on. Most likely, though, is that they truly do not understand it. Derek Webb, a contemporary Christian musician, says this: “I think the church feels like the Gospel is what they preach to nonbelievers. But what people don’t realize, and this was a really revolutionary discovery for me, is that we need the Gospel today. I’ve been a believer for 12 years and I desperately need the Gospel. You’re never going to get over the Gospel, to move on to something deeper. There isn’t anything deeper.”
The Gospel is theology. The deeper we get in theology the more we understand about our God. If we claim Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, shouldn’t we strive to know Him as much as we can? We are all supposed to be theologians, students of God. If we fear the Lord we will no doubt be students of His Word. That is where the wisdom, the knowledge, the instruction, and the understanding is found. That is where God reveals Himself to His elect.
Do you fear the Lord?