May 23, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In the Old Testament, the term “fear of the Lord ” (or it’s derivatives) is often used – at least 89 times. It is usually explained from today’s perspective that it means basically the same as “faith” in the New Testament, and is not really fear as we understand it. It is more like “holy respect.” The first definition of the verb fear, according to Webster, is “to be afraid of; dread.” I maintain that is exactly what it means to fear the Lord ! We should be cowering before this God who is so great and awesome that He creates all out of nothing with just His word, and He then holds it all together just by His being! (see Genesis 1:3, Colossians 1:16 and Hebrews1:3). We should cringe in dread and be afraid of Him – except for the second half of our blog title – Comfort. Here is the scripture that brings these two ideas together – Fear and Comfort – Acts 9:31:
Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee and Samaria, had peace
and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of
the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
One of the keys to the Christian life is balance. Concerning these two words – Fear and Comfort – balance becomes very important!
By the time Acts 9:31 portrays, there were churches established in Judea, Galilee and Samaria as well as Damascus (see Acts 9:1 and 2). Followers of The Way – for that is what believers were called before “…the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch…,” (Acts 11:26) – had been experiencing severe persecution from the Jewish Sanhedrin led by Saul of Tarsus (see Acts 8:1 and 9:1, 2). But Acts 9 describes Saul’s conversion to the faith he was persecuting. As you are probably aware, Saul of Tarsus went on to become Paul the Apostle! And so “…the churches…had peace and were edified.”
Sometimes God gives a period of peace to His Church, and sometimes He allows persecution. Tertullian – second century Church Father – wrote, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” And it is proved throughout history all over the world that the Church of Jesus Christ is strongest when they are going through – or recently have gone through – persecution! Let us be thankful for the opportunity in this country for peace and edification. But God help us if we continue in the philosophy of the Laodecean church – a philosophy that so many today who name the name of Christ are buying into: “I am rich, and become wealthy, and have need of nothing…” (Revelation 3:17). How does the Lord look at such an attitude? Same verse – “…you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked….” God is very likely to wake up His Church with persecution!
Back to our two words, Fear and Comfort – and here is the balance: If you only have “…the fear of the Lord…,” you will be cringing in a corner, afraid of offending such a high and holy God! After all, He is able to crush us in an instant like a bug if He so desired! But if such fear is modified and balanced by “…the comfort of the Holy Spirit…,” we can have “…boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus…” (Hebrews 10:19). That blood was willingly shed by Him on the cross because He loved us – and always will love us! However, if we only have “…the comfort of the Holy Spirit…” with no “…fear of the Lord…,” we will just have license to do about anything as Christians, and it will be perfectly alright – at least in our Laodecean minds!
Balance then “…the fear of the Lord…[with] the comfort of the Holy Spirit….” Balance other things in your Christian life also – such as time to study your Bible balanced with time to communicate in prayer with God – such as sacred time alone balanced with worship and fellowship with other Christains. If you bring balance in all you do, you will be much more inclined to experience what Jesus said in John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”