by Steven Chan
In Psa 111:10, the Psalmist declared that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” and in Ecc 12:13-14, his son, Solomon, wrote thus: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
Both of them talked about how the “fear of the Lord” would provide the basis for wisdom as well as the motivation for keeping the commandments of God. Although the love of God is also a motivation for serving God (2 Cor 5:14), one would do well to “fear God” so that one would be faithful in discharging his duty to God.
In 2 Cor 5:10-11, the apostle Paul wrote thus: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” It is the awareness of the “terror” of “appearing before the judgement seat of Christ” to give an account of all that we have done, that motivates the apostle Paul to preach the gospel and to “persuade men” to obey Him.
People lack motivation to work for God when they are not aware of the “terror” of the Lord. In Heb 10:30-31, the Bible declares that “The LORD will judge His people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” The Day of Judgement should be a powerful motivation for each one of us to re-commit our lives to do His will. The Bible warns Christians that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.
Contrary to what some have taught that the Judgement is long past, having occurred in AD70 as they alleged, and that there will be no future Day of Judgement, the Bible is explicit and clear that there will be a day of judgement and that is the reason for persuading men to obey God. Paul said that “we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ”; so do not be misled by those who teach that those living after AD70 will no longer appear before the judgement seat of Christ. Paul preached the same thing in Acts 17:30-31: “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” The reason for calling men to repentance is because “God has appointed a Day” (not many days) on which He will judge the world by Christ. If that Day has passed, then there is no reason to call men to repentance. The teaching that says that there is no future of day of judgement, is not only a patently erroneous teaching, it also removes the reason for calling men to repentance or persuading men to repent.
We need to have “godly fear” so that we will do what God has commanded us. In Heb 11:7, the Bible says: “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” It is good for us to note that after Noah was “warned of things not yet seen” (i.e. the then future worldwide flood), Noah “moved with godly fear”. What caused Noah to move was his “godly fear”. If he had not feared God and therefore failed to pay attention to what God had told him, he would not have “moved” to prepare an ark for his salvation and that of his family.
Do we have “godly fear”? Do we know “the terror of the Lord” so that we will persuade men to repent? Some think that it is the knowledge that people will be judged that motivates the preacher to preach and to persuade men. But it is equally true that preachers are also motivated to preach because they know that they themselves will also have to give an account for their ministry to God. Consider what God said in Ezek 33:8-9: “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” That’s why the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Cor 9:16: “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”
May we all have godly fear so that we may move to do the will of God.