28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28–29, NKJV)
The kingdom of God will not be destroyed by evil men under the power of the devil. It is a spiritual kingdom that endures, even as the kingdoms of men fall (Daniel 2:44). Therefore, Christians are to live unshakable lives of faith. We graciously serve God according to His will, to be accepted by Him (whether or not people accept us). Our service is to be marked by awe and pious dread of displeasing our God. Boisterous, impious, irreverent conduct is not acceptable service to our holy God. We are kingdom citizens and kingdom servants, remembering our place before our King. God is a “consuming fire” against all who do not fear Him and fail to faithfully serve Him. Make no mistake; God does not favor those who dishonor Him with disobedient, sinful and shameful living. He will punish sin, even as He reward the faithful. Choose wisely, and serve the King acceptably.
25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” (Hebrews 12:25–26, NKJV)
There are terrible consequences for rejecting the word of God. The ground shook when God spoke the Ten Commandments to Israel from Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:18). Yet, Israel rejected God’s word, and made a golden calf to worship in direct violation of His commandments (Exodus 20:1-6; 32:1-7). About 3,000 men died that day as punishment for their sin (Exodus 32:28, 34-35). There is an unmistakable lesson for us from this event. We will not escape punishment if we reject God’s word that He has spoken to us from heaven “in His Son,” by the New Testament Scriptures (Hebrews 1:2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Day of Judgment will remove heaven and earth. Only His kingdom will survive His awesome judgment (Hebrews 12:26-28). The words and wisdom of men will never prepare you to escape divine wrath against sin. But, the gospel of Jesus Christ will; it is God’s power to save you (Romans 1:16). Believe God’s word and obey the Lord Jesus, to “have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).
10 The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. 11 Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. 12 So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:10–12, NKJV)
The brevity and uncertainty of life persuades us to measure our conduct by the will of God. Eternity is ahead. Our bodies and our brains are wearing out; We will die. We exercise, we regulate our diet, we rest, we see our doctors, and so it goes. Still, we grow old, and die. What will you have to show for your life at the end of your days? Only “labor and sorrow” if you have not lived with reverence for God and His will in your life. After death comes judgment, and God’s wrath against your sin (Heb. 9:27). But, you do not have to face wrath after life on earth. Salvation in Christ will free you from the fear of death (1 Cor. 15:56-57). Learn from God’s word, and live your days according to divine wisdom. Then, whether your days are many or few, instead of divine wrath after death, you will be carried away to the eternal rest, peace and glory of the righteous (Lk. 16:22). The choice is yours. Your days are short. Today is the day of salvation.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34–35, NKJV)
God’s love for sinners is unconditional: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” (Jno. 3:16). God’s salvation of sinners is conditional: “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jno. 3:16). Today’s verse helps explain the condition of faith (“whoever believes in Him”) that saves sinners “by grace” (Eph. 2:8). First, God’s conditions for salvation are impartial. God’s very nature demands it to be so. Next, salvation conditions are universal (“in every nation”). Next, we learn that “whoever believes in Him” is one who fears God. Reverence for God implies one fully submits to God’s will, not his own. Such a submission, reverent faith “works righteousness.” That is, this person is obeys the commands of Jesus in order to be saved. Jesus and His apostles commanded belief, repentance, confession of faith and water baptism to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38; 22:16; Rom. 10:9-10). Do you fear God? Will you work righteousness? If so, He will accept you. Yes, salvation is conditional, and Jesus Christ sets the conditions (Matt. 28:18-20).
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1, NKJV)
The blessed promises that God will receive us as His children and be a Father to us move us with expectant faith to “cleanse ourselves” of every defilement that sin has introduced into our minds and our bodies. The fruit of repentance is the ceasing of the sins we previously committed. Christians do not continue living in sin; we deliberately, sometimes painstakingly, refuse to continue in sin. This process of eliminating sin enables us to mature in making holy choices in life, because we hold God in reverence and seek to always do what pleases Him. We must devote ourselves to purity of heart and life because of the great promises of familial fellowship God gives us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
4 And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4–5, NKJV)
Fear is a powerful emotion. It stirs adrenaline, often evoking a fight or flight reaction. But, fear can be misplaced. We can fear the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Jesus calls our attention to this fact. He commands us to rule over our fear of men, their threats and their retaliations because of our faith. We fail to function with eternity in view when we fear men instead of God. The power of men is limited to this physical world, but, God dwells in eternity. Therefore, we ought to fear displeasing Him, since He has power over both temporal and eternal life. The punishment of hell is real, and reserved for those who fear men more than fearing God and obeying Him. Believe the words of Jesus. With all reverence, fear God more than men. Follow God instead of men (Acts 5:29).
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, NKJV)
The proverbs of Solomon generate knowledge grounded in wisdom, instruction, perception and understanding (Prov. 1:1-2). They provide wisdom’s instruction concerning justice, judgment and equity (Prov. 1:3). They give discretion and enlightenment to the innocent and inexperienced (Prov. 1:4). Furthermore, wise ones will gain learning and acquire good counsel through pondering these proverbs (Prov. 1:5-6). Yet, without the “fear of the Lord,” no such knowledge, wisdom, instruction and counsel will be attained. The fear of the Lord, then, is the starting line, the “beginning” place from which one proceeds to benefit from the proverbs. The “fools” of verse 7 are set in contrast to those who “fear the Lord.” They do not dread displeasing God. They do not stand in awe of Him. They do not revere His name. Thus, they despise the wisdom and knowledge that proceeds from Him. We recall that Jesus said we need “ears to hear” God’s word. The fear of the Lord is an excellent place to start.