There seems to be an obvious aversion to preaching and teaching the “Fear of God”, for fear of scaring away potential Christian prospects. But a healthy fear of God is an intrinsic characteristic that all Christians possess upon conversion. Not only is such a characteristic instilled upon a believer at reception of the Holy Spirit, but God repetitively commands the believer to “Fear Him”. For example; “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ” (Job 28:28); “The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread.” (Isaiah. 8:13); “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28). There are myriads of verses in the Bible, but for the sake of brevity, I’ve only referenced a few. However, I encourage you to do a Bible study on the word “fear”, and you will be amazed how often it is in Holy Scripture.
Therefore having a fear of God is germane and tantamount to living the Christian life (Ps. 25:14, Acts 9:31). Embracing God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and at times, His unpredictable chastisement should not only invoke terror within the soul of the believer, but captivate awe as well. This unique inimitability of God is a phenomenon which seems oxymoronic and paradoxical, yet is magnetic. Take careful note when you read through the book of Acts, and you will recognize how often great fear besieged the multitudes. Yet, amazingly that fear led to countless people joining the church; fear was a catalyst not a deterrent!
For church (Acts 5:11), yet three verses later many men and women joined the church, even though God’s judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira for example, after God struck down dead Ananias and Sapphira immediately after they had been caught lying to the Holy Spirit. Great fear gripped the whole ira was swift and severe. That extreme fear sparked multitudes to join the church! (Acts 5:14)
Another example was a Jewish exorcist priest named Sceva who, with his seven sons attempted to exorcise an evil spirit from a man in the name of Jesus, the same Jesus that was preached by the Apostles. Agitated, the evil spirit from within the man exclaimed; “…I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15). Then attacked Sceva and his sons, overpowering and injuring them; they fled battered and naked. But you’ll notice, even though the instance became known to both Jews and Greeks throughout Ephesus; “… fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified.” (Acts 19:17). Throughout the book of Acts, you will see numerous and powerful illustrations of how fear caused the amelioration of the early church. It would be folly for us to think that God would not cause His church to grow in similar fashion.
As alluded to before, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:7, Ps. 111:10). Unfortunately, many church leaders today erroneously assume that if they teach to “fear God” they will drive people away. And therefore tailor sermons bereft of this vital element regarding church growth. Pastor Steve Lawson wrote; “Step into the average church these days and you will likely see that the services are designed more to remove the fear of God rather than to promote it”. According to Pastor Lawson, teaching the fear of God will not drive the truly “called” people away, but rather, attract them. An effectually called and drawn individual will respond affirmatively to the truth of God’s word; God’s word has that power for salvation! Conviction of sin and a vivified spirit to possess fear of God leads to brokenness over sin, repentance, realization for the need of a Savior, and ultimately salvation. This is how the Holy Spirit miraculously operates. Conversely, unbelievers exhibit no fear of God. And one way you can identify unbelievers is by their lack of fearing God (Romans 3:13-18).
In essence, teaching the fear of God will not repel people from accepting Christ, but rather draw them to Him. To refrain from teaching the “fear of God”, is a gross error and indicates a teacher or preacher is not trusting in God’s sole sovereignty in converting the souls of the lost. Furthermore, It is a fatal mistake to rely on human ingenuity and certain evangelistic methods for attracting people to Jesus Christ. We are not responsible for church growth, God is. We are only commissioned to spread the complete Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20) and leave the transformation of hearts to God. (1 Corinthians 3:7). Amen. Please read, “Spread the Gospel Boldly not Reticently”! Part 5–Coming soon!