Exhortation to Fear the Lord
1 Peter 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
Few weeks back, the world is stunned due to the terrorists attack in Paris. After several days, there was a bombing in Mali, Africa, and earlier this week, a Russian bomber on its way to Syria was shot down by Turkish fighter plane. Yesterday, the news that New Zealand was one of the target in the terrorists list put the authorities and the people here on alert. Due to the terrorism people all over the world are now living in fear.
Looking back on our previous lessons, there were commands followed by I would say sub commands. Among the major commands were (1) hope to the end (2) Be ye holy. There is another which we will be talking about today. That is to “live in fear” while we sojourn here on earth. Live in fear? I know you have some preconceived ideas but let me continue and finish the message first before you make your conclusions. By the way the term “if you call on the Father”, means real believers, Christians, who are worshiping and praying to God the Father.
I. The meaning of fear:
A. A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger.
B. Fear is accompanied with a desire to avoid or ward off the expected evil.
C. Fear is an uneasiness of mind, upon the thought of future evil likely to befall us.
It is reported that the newspaper counsellor, Ann Landers, receives an average of 10,000 letters each month, and nearly all of them from people burdened with problems. She was asked if there was anyone of them which predominates throughout the letters she receives, and her reply was the one problem above all others seems to be fear.
People are afraid of losing their health, their wealth, and their loved ones. People are afraid of life itself. (Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations).
II. We must live by fear while we are here on earth
A. There is proper place of fear while we sojourn here.
1. Fear God only. Deut. 13:4, 1 Pet. 2:17.
2. We are not to fear man. Mat. 10:28, 1 Sam. 15:24
3. We are not to fear other gods or idols. 2 Kings 17:38
4. True believers should not fear future punishments. Heb. 10:27
Illustration: The Hermit
Seeking to know God better, John Chrysostom became a hermit in the mountains near Antioch in A.D. 373. Although his time of isolation was cut short by illness, he learned that with God at his side, he could attend alone against anyone or anything.
That lesson served Chrysostom well. In A.D. 398 he was appointed patriarch of Constantinople, where his zeal for reform antagonized the Empress Eudoxia, who had him exiled. Allowed to return after a short time, Chrysostom again infuriated Eudoxia, who sent him away again. How did Chrysostom respond to such persecution? With these words:
“What can I fear? Will it be death? But you know that Christ is my life, and that I shall gain by death. Will it be exile? But the earth and all its fullness are the Lord’s. Poverty I do not fear; riches I do not sigh for; and from death I do not shrink.”
Chrysostom knows the proper place of fear while he is a pilgrim here.
III. The fear that we must have
A. It is called ‘fear of the Lord”
B. That fear, reverence, awe, and esteem for God’s holiness and power, which results in careful obedience to God’s will. Gen. 20:11; Deut. 6:2, 13, 24; Pr. 1:7; 8:13; Ps. 33:8; 34:9; 36:1).
C. To fear God is to glorify and worship Him as the eternal creator. Rev. 14:7
D. The fear of the Lord:
1. Is the beginning of knowledge. Pr. 1:7
2. Is to hate evil. Pr. 8:13
3. Prolongeth days. Pr. 10:27
4. Is strong confidence. Pr. 14:26
5. Is a fountain of life. Pr. 14:27
6. Is riches and honor and life. Pr. 22:4.
7. The root problem with the wicked is that they do not fear God (Ps 36:1; Ro 3:18).
IV. Why must we fear God?
A. He is without respect of persons.
1. God is without partiality in judgment,
2. There is no favouritism in God.
3. Wealth, culture, social position, family, education, beauty, intellect make no difference to God. 1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
4. He is honest in His assessments. Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
God has no partiality toward persons. No one has more influence with God in prayer. Most of the time people ask their pastor if they would pray for them thinking that their prayers will be more effective. The truth is any Christian in fellowship with the Lord can pray as any pastor.
God hears our prayers because of His Son. We can never earn His respect. We approach God on the merits of Christ.
B. God Judges according to every man’s work.
1. God judges according to a standard. It is the objective standard of what a believer does in time.
2. There is a difference between God’s judgment of believers and His condemnation of unbelievers. This is the difference between the judgment seat of Christ (Christians) and the great white throne of judgment (non-Christians).
3. God does not condemn Christians. (Rom. 8:1). Only the unbelievers will be condemned. John 3:18, 19.
4. Salvation is not the issue at the Judgment seat of Christ. It is giving of rewards.
5. When God judges our work, it would be a fair impartial judicial process. No one will be able to say that God showed favouritism.
6. Since the Lord who judges knows and sees everything and nothing can be hidden from Him, we should fear Him.
As pilgrims or sojourners here do you live in fear of the Lord? There is a coming judgment, do you know whether you will be condemned or rewarded? If you cannot answer, it’s time to repent from your sins now and receive Christ as your personal Savior. Time is running out.