I used to think the reason that the Church was fading so fast was because of a lack of the sufficiency of Scripture. I used to think that! I am becoming more convinced these days that the problem therein lies, not in a lack of Scriptural integrity, but rather, a lack of holy fear.
Think about it for a moment. What is is that causes one to trade in the very God-breathed Words for modern psyco-babble and hip lingo? Sure, it could very well be that the “pastor” doesn’t believe the Word of God can be relevant to his young millennial congregation, therefore falling away from the sufficiency of Scripture. But the at the very root lies the real cause. He has failed in the things of holy fear.
In Scripture, we never see any good thing come from a lack of holy fear. Consider Nadab & Abihu, for example, Aaron’s sons who did not fear God enough to offer the proper sacrifice.
Leviticus 10: 1-2 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
Or perhaps Uzzah will suffice as an illustration, considering that his intentions, unlike Nadab and Abihu’s intentions, were actually good.
2Sam 6:5-7 And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.
One may look at these two examples and think, “Pfft. Those were Old Testament people. We’re under the covenant of grace, now. No need to worry about silly things, like holiness, anymore.”
Okay. I understand what you’re saying. Now that Christ mediates for us to God there is no longer a need for holy fear of God. Does this really jive with New Testament teaching?
Acts 5:1-11 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
The one thing that jumps out at me from the Acts passage is that the people who heard about this incident feared! They didn’t just fear the fact that Ananias and Sapphira were killed, they feared that they had been killed because of their offense to God. In other words, they had a healthy, holy fear. They knew they weren’t in church to play or pretend. In fact, verse 13 of Acts 5 relays to us that the people would not join the disciples in worship because of fear.
So, what has changed?
Instead of pastors and Christians who tremble at the thought offending God, we have clowns in the pulpit that mock him.
Rather than faithful stewards that proclaim the whole counsel of the Word, we are left with cowards that fear men and cater to their “felt needs.”
In the stead of godly soldiers that storm the gates of Hell, we are reduced to unarmed minutemen that try to reason with vipers.
And replacing loving shepherds who protect the flock, we have turned over the watch-care of the soul to hirelings that gladly open the door for the wolves.
All of this is a direct result of no fear. Perhaps it is time to recover the fear of the Lord. It is now that we, as a Church, must stop offering our strange fire on an altar unmade by God. Let us tremble once more in the presence of pure light and fear even the veiled glory of a God who is able to snuff out our candlesticks.
Let us be afraid. Let us be very afraid!
Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.