Piety and not ‘prosperity’ was the watchword with all these fathers of the faith through the generations. Piety breeds holiness, the God-kind of life or the conforming to the Image of Christ! The gates of hell do not prevail against this. This is the Christianity that ran through the ages with persecution and tribulation, of course, but which ‘worketh patience’ anyway for those that fear the Lord. Piety is the lifestyle of the Christian and there is no missing it as you read the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, Revelation and church history. It is not just only a life that leads to holiness and righteous living but helps us to “perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord”. So, again, it is the fear of the Lord that helps us to perfect holiness.
That is the path of the pilgrim; the path of those that really want to be among those to be manifested as eternal sons of God. Ages past knew this. And they engaged in it for their eternal good; for only those that faithfully walk this path have any hope of being among God’s final jewels, even those He will present to God as the chaste virgin (2 Corinthians 11: 2), the glorious Church without spot, wrinkle, or blemish (Ephesians 5: 27), the building with each building block well fitted (Ephesians 4: 11-16). Isn’t Christianity a very serious matter? We re-echo Spurgeon once again: ‘Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin’.
O but what age is this! The Word of God interpreted by His Spirit (and not by our flesh) is the sure guide, and obeyed is safe haven now and eternally. It is very bad and dangerous not to erect further structures on that pure and holy foundation of the Apostles. It is worse and more dangerous to attempt to erect questionable structures on it. And it is worst and most dangerous to attempt another foundation altogether! God shall judge all in the Church with His Word, so, all must endeavor to live and serve Him according to His Word as interpreted strictly by His Spirit and not by our flesh or senses that are given to feigning the ways of God for selfish reasons. That is what the fear of God means. That is piety. That is true religion: Real Christianity. After all, we live for His glory; and we live for His pleasure. And all who live for His glory and pleasure, share of His glory and pleasure graciously, now; and graciously overwhelmingly in all eternity.
The Want of the Fear of God
Satan and his people have their form of piety or fear of demons and demonic covenants. Because Satan coerces and is instantly merciless when those covenant terms are broken the sorcerers, occults and the false religions adherents fear the devil and keep those terms at all cost if even it will mean killing loved ones or God’s real people. They are zealous for evil! It is their own devoutness, their own form of piety, and their own way of being true to the terms of their covenants.
God doesn’t coerce. He wants us to act the god He has made each one of us. But He advises against the wrong action and tells you the end result; just as He counsels on the good action and its benefits and points the right way you should go. And He expects you to use your freewill thereafter to act rightly. And when you decide to act contrarily (which is what sin is, and that for want of the fear of God) though you are instantly guilty and condemned but its execution may not be instant. So, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” – Ecclesiastics 8:11. Sons of men: including multitude in the pews and many in the pulpits. But hear God in the next two verse, i.e. verses 12 and 13 of Ecclesiastic 8: “Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God (Italics are mine). The fear of the Lord! That is the deciding factor.
The New Testament is full with instructions like ‘abstain from all appearance of evil’’, ‘flee fornication’. ‘flee also youthful lust’, ‘love not the world, neither the things that are in the world’, ‘you shall not worship God and mammon’, ‘beware of covetousness’, come out from among them’, ‘be ye separate’, ‘touch not the unclean things’, ‘resist the devil’; ‘watch and be sober’, ‘be vigilant’, ‘hold fast the form of sound words’, ‘strive to enter in at the strait gate’, ‘earnestly contend for the faith’, ‘work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’, ‘pass the time of your sojourning here in fear’, endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ’; ‘seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness ’, ‘be ye holy’, ‘exercise yourself rather unto godliness’, ‘awake to righteousness’, ‘love one another with a pure heart fervently’, ‘present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God’, ‘mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth’; ‘set your affection on things above’, ‘lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ condescend to men of low estate’, let your moderation be made known to all’; study to show yourself approved unto God’, ‘search the Scriptures’ ‘hold fast the form of sound words’, ‘speak the things which become sound doctrine’; ‘look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith who … ENDURED THE CROSS, DESPISING THE SHAME’, ‘let this mind be in you which was also in Christ’, ‘take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me’, ‘take your cross and follow Me’; ‘think on these things’, and countless others!
They are all addressing the subject matter of the fear of God, piety or true godly religion. Or, what shall we say of examples of saints, written down for us, who strove unto death fighting sin, who pressed on to the mark of the price of the high calling, who hazarded their lives for the Gospel, who fought a good fight, who took the Kingdom of God by violent’, who left all to follow Jesus, who exercise consciences void of offence toward God and man and sundry other Christian lifestyle that should go before us for an idea of Christianity: A serious race and battle. A heavenly race and a battle to be free and eternally free from Satan cannot really be otherwise. Grace tapped plants us on success path, makes us more than conqueror and guarantees final success. Grace should not be frustrated. The fear of God does not frustrate grace, and it is also the fertile ground of grace. Sound doctrines thought and obeyed is the fruit of grace.
Really, there are more than enough heaven-ward subject matters to engage our pulpits and pews anytime. Where are the hymns and spiritual songs of yesteryears that endear hearts to heaven now sang? O the great devotional hymns of truly spiritual men that takes sin and the world away from us, brightens the pilgrim’s path, brightens up the heavenly way and sets our hearts irrevocably on that City that hath foundation Whose Builder is God! It is almost only in our age with no clime exempted that mammon or making it physically is almost always the subject matter! Messages and songs hardly now address the occupant of the house that lives eternally but the house (the flesh) housing it which is like a vapor, now is and nowhere after now. And it is the occupant of the house that is the subject matter of the Rapture. It is the occupant that is the real man and that shall be manifested if given to piety, fear o
f the Lord or true religion, albeit with a new (spiritual) body that never dies; for this one – this flesh – housing it now and indeed beclouding it and taking all the attention at its expense shall be no more but return to dust.
See this: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Contrast this with the present ‘mammonism’, pomp and pageantries, and ostentations passing for Christianity today! How to go about this Christian race: What a command, what example we find in those verses! Dare we listen to contrary messages? Dare we follow contrary examples? ‘So run’, ‘strive for mastery’, ‘be temperate or self-controlled’, ‘so fight’, ‘keep body under’, and ‘bring body into subjection’: It is grace upon him that fears God that can make all that possible or it is the fear of God naturally receiving grace that can make all that good. ‘So run’, ‘strive for mastery’, ‘be temperate or self-controlled’, ‘so fight’, ‘keep body under’, and ‘bring body into subjection’: It is either we allow Bible definition of Christianity or we embrace the new age, flesh-driven, and even apparently occult-influenced or sponsored definition of ‘Christianity’.
The fear of God knows the definition of Christianity not only to align with but also to employ and work with to walk the path that leads to being manifested as sons of God: the narrow path that leads to God which true pilgrims trod in the very serious onward march to Zion, the City of the Most High God! It was, still is and always will be a heavenly highway of holiness. And God will always eschew sin, the love of the world, weights and yokes no matter how ‘dazzling’ messages sponsored by flesh, and so by Satan, feigned and present them in the pulpits. We should eschew them too.
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the Word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” – 2 Corinthians 2:17. And in 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 we read: “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God”.
It is the want of the fear of God that has made many a ministers to use their pulpits to promote mammon at the expense of piety and holiness. In Prosperity, Eternity: Why Receive, Why Give a chapter: “Between Holiness and ‘Prosperity’ Preaching”, deals with this sorry mammon invasion of the church and its affront on real Christianity. It is the want of the fear of the Lord that make many a church ministers love the things of the world and present same to their itching ears people with feigned and colored words who, of course, readily swallow them down!
How a fearful way God puts it in Isaiah 56:10-11: “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.” There are many a watchmen who cannot bark today on the subject matter of sin and unrighteousness like John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and the Apostles and early disciples of the Lord. All because ‘they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter’, and the itching ears congregations love it so. It is the want of the fear of God that shall make many (blind leaders and blind followers) fall into the ditch.
It is the want of the fear of God that is making men to remove the ancient landmarks and foundation of the Apostles and preaching another gospel, which is not another anyway! It is the want of the fear of the Lord that has apparently silenced or sidelined the proper place of preaching against sin and unrighteousness in many a church today. It is the want of the fear of the Lord that has disturbingly promoted what God says He will add at the very sad expense of what He says we should seek.
It is the want of God’s fear that has promoted mundane things in the so-called church than purely heavenly matters. It is the want of the fear of God in many a pulpits that is making our world churchy and our churches worldly – with no clear-cut difference between some churches today and the world they are supposed to salt and light. It is the want of the fear of the Lord that fills the broad-way leading to hell with the many that finds it; and it is its want that shall leave untold number, in and outside the Church, behind in the rapture.
We read in Romans 14: 17: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”. And what great pair of parables Jesus brought together in Matthew 13:44-46 and the unmistaken message about the Kingdom of God and the kind of Christian life that gets in there: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”