“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth
for the manifestation of the sons of God” – Romans 8:19.
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” – Hebrews 12:28-29
If there is any ticket to making it at the rapture it is the fear of the Lord. As we shall be seeing much later we require it after we have been saved to work out our salvation; that is what we need have and grow in to be perfecting holiness (God’s kind of life that takes to heaven); and it is actually the link between here (this side of eternity) and there (that eternity with the triune God), hence we are told to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear!
The fear of God or the want of it is what separates the few on the narrow way from the multitudes in the world and multitudes in the Church on the broad-way. The fear of God is what ‘begets’ those eternal sons of God that shall be manifested very soon. The fear of God: It is the beginning of wisdom!
In 1 Peter 1: 3-5 we read very encouragingly: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
The fear of God it is that never messes up that mercy; that lively hope; that incorruptible, and undefiled inheritance that fades not away, reserved in heaven for us: ‘Us’, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. And the place of the fear of God in being kept by the power of God in this matter of eternity with God cannot be overemphasized. What follows hereunder is an attempt to lay out the place of the fear of God vis-à-vis the manifestation of the eternal sons of God.
Grace, Holy Spirit, Fear of the Lord and the “Few”!
There is a coming great revelation: It will be in the last time! And that last time is here with us. It (the Rapture of the saints) can happen anytime! And all who walked the narrow path, the heavenly highway of holiness shall be manifested. They shall be the eternal sons of God that the earnest expectation of the creature waits for.
In Ephesians 1:10-12 we read very encouragingly also: “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.” There is a coming great revelation: It will happen at the fullness of times! This is that dispensation. To say it again: And all who walked the narrow path, the heavenly highway of holiness shall be manifested. And theirs will then be eternal praise of His glory!
Christianity or the Christ-like life places huge demand on us and eschews lukewarm, it-doesn’t-matter and ease-in-Zion attitude. The Holy Spirit in 1Peter 1:13-17 has these admonitions for all heavenly pilgrims. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 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”.
Truly: there is no ease in Zion. There is a race to finish, a battle to win. There is a height to attain. So, we must gird up our loins; we must be sober; and we must hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. We must be obedient children. We must not fashion ourselves according to the former lusts in our ignorance but be heavenly focused now that we have moved from ignorance into His marvelous light. That is to say:
We must not love the world, or the things that are in the world because if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him; and because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world, and, lastly, because the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever (1John 2:15-17).
Who among men shall abide forever with God; who shall inhabit eternity with God! The answer is in holy living and fear of the Lord. Therefore this is God’s express command: ‘As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 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’.
That no unrighteousness will enter the Kingdom of God cannot be gainsaid, for it is a divinely given fact. That only the narrow way leads there cannot also be gainsaid because it is equally a divinely stated fact. Let God be true and every man a liar, says God’s Word in Romans 3: 4 and let’s represent it verbatim from verse 3-4: “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.”
Fear of God, Path of God’s Commandments and Our Fathers
How imperative then is holy living and the fear of God! But thank God: It is by grace and the Spirit of the Lord. We must therefore tap into God’s grace continually. We must submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. With the help of His Spirit, we must endeavor not to frustrate His grace, and with the help of His grace we must endeavor not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We must not leave out grace and His Spirit any moment of our lives. We displease God, act foolishly and sin the very moment we leave out the fear of the Lord which is the strength of the holy living.
Charles Spurgeon in his very rich Daily Devotional prayed: “May the Holy Ghost make your heart obedient to the constraining power of Christ’s love, that your prayer may be, ‘Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight.’” And in the very next line he admonished: “Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.” We add that the fear of the Lord is fertile ground for grace.
But not very many people exploit this “beginning of wisdom”: The fear of the Lord! It is what makes us live holy and consequently makes us make heaven. It is the beginning of wisdom: And what wisdom indeed it is to live to please and glorify God; and the man wise indeed is him who lives to make eternity with God. The fear of the Lord ushers in grace which leads to holy living, and holy living ushers men into eternity with God. And surrendered life to the Holy Spirit helps coordinate all that. We must resolve to fear God. If we do, the fle
sh and its thoughts that turn men away from the thoughts and promptings of the Holy Spirit would have been overcome! Simple path for the pilgrim! But many trust in the arm of the flesh which always fails!
Proper and total fear of the Lord is what divides the Church from the world. And proper or total fear of the Lord with the life it produces and the service it renders that will define those who will make the rapture among all professors of Christianity. It is only those that truly and wholly fear the Lord that receives all Grace to live for Him and serve Him acceptably. To fear God is to abstain from all evils. To fear Him is to give Him the best of our lives and service. To fear Him is to do of His will and of His good pleasure. To fear Him is to live for Heaven. To fear God is to earnestly contend for the faith, fight the good fight of faith etc. In short: To fear God is to obey His commands! You cannot fear God and yet be seriously wanting in obedience!
In Exodus 18: 21 we read: “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” Finis Jennings Dake in Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible uses piety or true religion to explain the fear of God when he commented on that verse. He explains these fourfold qualification of leaders thus: Let them be able, capable men; God-fearing men, truly religious; Truthful men, honest and just; Men who hate covetousness, doing all things for God’s sake and the love of man; laboring to promote the best public good so as to inspire others to live upright lives; and saw them again as general qualifications of ability, piety, truthfulness, and unselfishness.
The fear of God is what true religion is, and piety explains it. And piety is a strong respectful belief in God and strict observance of God’s Word in everyday life, and actions inspired by devout godly principles or biblical standard. It is a life that completely leans on Jesus and trusts Him all the way just as it craves more and more of Him till the “Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God” (1 Thessalonians 4: 16). Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) in “Savior, more than Life” captures it this way:
Savior, more than life to me,
I am clinging, clinging, close to Thee;
Let Thy precious blood applied,
Keep me ever, ever near Thy side.
Every day, every hour,
Let me feel Thy cleansing power;
May Thy tender love to me
Bind me closer, closer, Lord to Thee.
Through this changing world below,
Lead me gently, gently as I go;
Trusting Thee, I cannot stray,
I can never, never lose my way.
Let me love Thee more and more,
Till this fleeting, fleeting life is o’er;
Till my soul is lost in love,
In a brighter, brighter world above.
The fear of God, piety or becoming more and more like Christ: This is the Christianity that we find in the New Testament and that those who saw the Apostles, the likes of Ignatius and Polycarp knew and built on. I wrote in the article “Defining Christianity and Christ Call”: “Over the years whether with the Apostolic Fathers, The Reformers, Mennonites, Puritans, Quakers, early Methodists, early Pentecostals or other serious minded groups, very serious holy attempts were made to approximate the hallowed pages of The Book of Life where it all started.” Piety was a watchword in all those generations of Christians and Christianity. We hope to go to the same place with them. The standard for getting there has not and will not be lowered for us or any people because: God’s ways are equal, the Bible says. So, we must be encouraged to look to the generations of John Wycliffe (1330-1384), Thomas a Kempis, real name: Thomas Hemerken (1379-1471), Jan Hus or John Huss (1369?-1415), Martin Luther (1483-1546), Huldreich Zwingli (1484 – 1531), Menno Simon (1496 – 1561), John Calvin (1509-1564), John Knox (1513-1572), Richard Baxter (1615-1691), George Fox (1624-1691), John Bunyan (1628-1688), John Wesley (1703-1791), George Whitefield (1714-1770) et al, generations men tried hazardously to further erect wonderful structures befitting the wonderful foundation of the Apostles. And then came the generations of the like of Charles G. Finney, Dwight L. Moody, John Ryle, William and Catherine Booth, Matthew Henry, Watchman Nee, Finis Dake, Oswald J. Smith et al who further built brilliant structures on the foundation of the Apostles.