Teaching the Fear of the Lord

Psalms 34:11-14 ESV

“Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.”

The “fear of the Lord” is something that is severely lacking in the teachings of the Scriptures within the gatherings of the church (or what is called church) here in America today. In fact, what is largely being taught is the opposite of the fear of God. For God is being presented as weak, and as a doting grandfather or a genie in the sky there to grant our every wish and desire and as someone who is enamored with us humans so much that he just can’t get enough of us. It is all focused on us and not on God.

Let me quote some words coming from a famous Christian pastor and author, Max Lucado. He was speaking on the subject of God’s grace:

“It emerged out of a conviction I have in my heart that the Church needs to go back and study grace. We just never study it enough. What I did sense is a resurgence of a secular, legalistic view of life that if there is a God we have to earn His favor and win His attention, whereas the worldview of the Christian who believes in grace is that God has already noticed me. He has taken notice of me. He is enraptured with me, and I don’t have to get His attention. I simply have to receive His affection.”

And.. “I really wrestled with trying to find a way to define grace because it’s such a huge thing, but what works for me is to see grace as a one-time gift of forgiveness and a lifetime gift of God’s presence. It’s that one-time sacrifice of Christ on the cross that moves us from condemned to forgiven, but it’s also a lifetime of His devotion to us.” (1)

I hope you picked up on the lies being spoken here. His whole article was very “me focused,” i.e. it was primarily all about what God does for us but not about what God requires of us. But even there his description of God and how he relates to us is a lie. He spoke of God being enraptured with us humans and that all we have to do is simply receive his affection, and of God’s lifetime of devotion to us, but not of our devotion to him. Twisted!

Yes, it is true that we are saved by God’s grace through God-given faith, and that none of this is of our own doing. We can do nothing in our flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Even the faith to believe in Jesus is God’s gift to us (Ephesians 2:8-9). And we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws us to Christ (John 6:44), i.e. unless he persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness and of our sinfulness and of our need to repent of our sins and to follow him in obedience.

[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Acts 5:32; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Eph 4:17-32; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Lu 9:23-26; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Matt 7:21-23]

But then read what it says in Ephesians 2:10, which is the very next verse:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

So, our salvation is not absent of works, it is just that they are the works of God, and not of our flesh, which he prepared in advance that we should WALK IN THEM, meaning that action on our part is involved. There are things God requires of us to do, but not in our own flesh, but in his strength and power and wisdom, as his workmanship. And then let’s read what the Scriptures teach about God’s grace:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions… What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:6-16 ESV)

So, you see, God’s grace to us is not about God being so enamored with us that nothing is required of us but that all we have to do is to receive his affection. And his grace to us is not all about his lifetime of devotion to us humans. Is he devoted to us? He is faithful to those who are devoted and faithful to him. But look up the word “devote” in New Testament. We are to be devoted to the Lord and not to other gods and the things of this world. And we are to be devoted to serving him with our lives and to good works.

[Our devotion to God: Matt 6:24; Ac 2:42; Ac 6:4; 1 Co 7:5; 1 Co 16:15; 1 Tim 1:4; 1 Tim 4:13; Tit 3:8,14; God’s faithfulness: 1 Co 1:9; 1 Co 10:13; 1 Thess 5:24; 2 Thess 3:3; 2 Tim 2:13; Heb 2:17; Heb 3:1-6; Heb 10:23; 1 Pet 4:19; 1 Jn 1:5-9; but there are plenty more Scriptures which speak of our need to be faithful to the Lord Jesus.]

Psalms 34:15-18 ESV

“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.”

And this is not just Old Testament teaching. Again, it is only by God’s grace through God-given faith in Jesus that any of us can be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. But then we have to break those verses down and look at their components, and then look at what the Scriptures teach about those various components such as grace, faith, gift of God, and works. And we need to read Ephesians 2:8-9 with verse 10 to get the full understanding of what it is teaching us.

And then we really need to read the whole book of Ephesians and the whole of the New Testament to get an accurate and complete view of what it means to be saved by God’s grace. For the Scriptures are clear that it means us dying with Christ to sin and us walking in obedience to his commands (New Covenant), and not just once, but daily. And if we do not forsake our lives of sin, and if we do not walk in obedience to our Lord, in practice, the Scriptures teach that we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God regardless of what faith we profess with our lips.

So, you want God/Jesus Christ to be for you? Then you need to be for him in faith response to the salvation from sin he provided for us via Jesus’ death on that cross and via his resurrection from the dead. You need to die to sin and to self and walk in obedience to the Lord and serve him with your life and no longer serve yourself. And this is NOT works salvation. It is the salvation that Jesus provided for us from our slavery to sin so that we will now be slaves of God and of his righteousness. Please read the Scriptures:

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Christ for Me

Author Unknown

Christ for me, yes it’s Christ for me.
He’s my Savior my Lord and King,
I’m so happy I shout and sing.
Christ for me, yes it’s Christ for me,
Every day as I go my way it is Christ for me.

(1) Max Lucado: https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/162972-max-lucado-brian-orme-why-grace-is-not-good-enough-for-us-legalism-cheap-grace-undeserved.html

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