By LOU TISCIONE
My wife and I recently took a vacation in Florida. We were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. We had a terrific time in Palm Beach. We were fortunate to be upgraded to a suite. Since we had a kitchen, we thought that we’d stock up on some things.
We walked across the street to the Publix Supermarket and found everything that we needed. I was wearing a “Fear God” T-shirt. While in the checkout line a lady looked at me in distress and said to me, “Why should I fear God?” The cashier smiled and I responded. “If one doesn’t know Jesus one ought to fear God!”
Upon reflection, I was disappointed by my impulsive response. I believe that I missed a golden opportunity to declare the holy majesty of God. Instead, I offered a typical Christian assertion, “As long as you know Jesus everything is OK.”
The plain truth is: whether you are a Christian or not, fearing God is the only response of a creature to his Creator.
The Bible answers the question. Fearing God is the subject of much of Scripture. Three texts of Scripture come readily to mind that concern man’s response to his Creator. Ecclesiastes 12:13, Matthew 10:28 and 1Peter 2:17 provide a clear answer to the woman’s question in Palm Beach, Fla., and to every human being.
Solomon, who was declared by God to be the wisest man who ever lived, expressed his deepest thoughts concerning life. He had every opportunity for greatness. He had great wealth. He had absolute worldly power over his kingdom. He pursued every passion and desire of his flesh. After evaluating all of his pursuits, he declared them all to be like hot air, “vanity of vanities,” Ecclesiastes 1:2; 12:8. Solomon repeated the vanity of man’s pursuits in the beginning of Ecclesiastes and at the end.
Solomon’s conclusion concerning the purpose of life and all of man’s pursuits was: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandment, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13
From Solomon, king of Israel to the Apostle Peter the fear of God was known and declared to be central. Peter wrote, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1Peter 2:17
Peter wrote to the church and exhorted her members to be holy people, set apart to God. He encouraged them to behave as those who have been changed by God. He called Christians to honor everyone; to sacrificially love those within the household of God and to fear God. Their fear of God was demonstrated in their worship. Fear includes a sense of awe, trembling and reverence.
In the case of Solomon fearing God was the only reasonable alternative to life. Peter gave the members of the church God’s guidance for life. Yet, each writer based his exhortation on an underlying assumption.
The underlying assumption was given by Jesus. Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “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.” This is God’s answer. Men are to fear God because of who He is and what He can do. Jesus’ words provide clarity. Jesus said that only God has absolute sovereignty over His creatures. Therefore, we must approach Him with great humility. We are finite and He is infinite. We have limited power. He has absolute power. Jesus said that, “all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18
Only fools live in denial of the absolute power and authority of God, Psalm 14:1. Only a fool would risk an eternity in hell! Why should I/we fear God? We fear God because He is!
How many think that their lives are hidden before God? How many are blind to the truth that they are created beings? How many give explanations for creation that fit within their limited understanding? How many think that there is no God to fear?
We fear God because, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
Everything you see around you is there because of our Creator God. We have been made to worship God. He is to be feared. He is the one who sent Jesus, His one and only Son. Jesus is the one who has the words of eternal life. Fear God!
Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).