Today I decided to smuggle myself into the first of the Mobilise session. Mobilise is a confernece within a conference. They attend most of the main sessions of TOAM but have their own main times and seminars as well. I understand that Mobilise will continue although the parent conference will not. Having enjoyed my time at Mobilise USA earlier in the year, I suspected I was in for a treat. I was right. The worship was powerful, and included an awesome time of response to what can and should be a life-changing sermon for all who listened to it. I pray that I will not just be the blogger chronicling this, but a responder to God’s word to us through Tom Shaw. Listening to Tom and being in a room of students and twenties filled me with confidence about the future of our movement! God is at work and will continue the task!
“Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord we persuade others”
Tom started by underlining that we do believe in grace. He recommended Mike Bett’s book From the Inside Out. He stated that it is our foundation. His concern this week, however, is that the younger generation has a tendency to swing to being too glib with God.
What is the fear of God?
The verse speaks of an intimate knowledge of the fear of God. Tom said there are two types of fear of God in the Bible. The first is terror without a relationship. The sense that they are doomed. But not all fear is bad. The second type is “filial” fear. It is like a father-son relationship. A holy inclination of the heart generated by God. Out of reverence for God take careful pains not to displease God. Earnestly desire to please him in all things.
We mustn’t desire to be approved by man. We must instead live for the pleasure of the almighty wonderful God. Every man or woman who comes into contact with a holy God, when they glimpse him, they are face down in reverent fear. Jacob has a relationship with God yet fears him. Isaiah 6 says, “woe is me!” John who was Jesus closest friend on heart was face down before him in Revelation.
This is not God coming to condemn his children. God gives promises to Jacob. We must appreciate that God is holy and separate. His wisdom, beauty, powerful. Add the word holy to him. God’s power is other to us. His beauty is incomprehensible. His thoughts are not like our thoughts.
God is holy. Unimaginably morally perfect. He is also here. Acts shows us a time of revival. We say if only we could be like the early church. Acts 2:43 says that awe came on everyone. The word is phobos, which is where phobia comes from. Fear came on that early church. Every individual. He is closer than the person sitting next to you.
Jerry Bridges, the joy of fearing God was quoted as follows “a creature submerged and overwhelmed by its own nothingness in contrast to that which is supreme above all creatures.” There is dread and wonder. The saints are stricken and overcome whenever they feel the presence of God. When we compare ourselves with God’s majesty, we are changed. This was at the core of the early church. Is it at the core of your life?
Tom spoke of driving up to the foot of a dam, and feeling the unease of how massive it really was and the water behind it. From a distance the dam was beautiful, up close it made him feel small. I am just a tiny fragile human being. Life is always delicate.
Why is it important?
It is almost the most important thing you could know in your life. “Those who fear the Lord lack no good thing.” The gateway into fruitfulness is the fear of the Lord. How do we progress in Christian walk? It is through walking in the presence of God knowing that he is holy and he is here. Make it our aim to please him and we will appear before the judgement seat of God.
If you fear the Lord it gives birth to mission. Tom explained how he has been realising afresh one day I will give an account for how I have persuaded the area I live in. Often we feel like the people we live near are a pain. Its not enough to go on the basis of love for the neighbour. But, knowing the fear of GOD we realise afresh our commission to work for him. This is an energising, fruit bearing truth. Not to be parallelised by this, but propelled.
Fear of God shapes every aspect of our life. Gives us humility, passion for the church, compassion for others. We are empowered to confront others. Decisions become about obedience to God. It keeps us pioneering and never settling. The focus is on him and not us. The fruit is massive.
If you don’t fear God you fear anything and everything. Terror, even about what school our children go to, grips us. We are in a world that is terrified. Desperate attempts at self-salvation.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The more you ask the Lord to lead you into this fear, the more you will be fruitful.
How do I get it and grow in it?
What is the answer to every question? It is always the gospel. It is his life, death, resurrection, ascension, pouring out of the Spirit, and his return. Every part of the gospel screams “fear the Lord” Revere him. Stand in awe of him. His life models it. Jesus feared God. Isaiah 11 says “his delight will be to fear the Lord” His death opens the way for us to have a relationship with a holy God. To approach God is like getting too close to the fire of the sun. Jesus paid the wrath of God. His resurrection shows us a new era is coming again. His power is revealed, and the new order has already begun! That should leave us in a place of ever-increasing awe. The coming of the Spirit should bear fruit in us the fear of the Lord.
Walking in “And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 9:31) The Church grew. We get obsessed with the comfort of the Spirit, but we must also embrace the fear of the Lord. Remember it was lying against the Spirit that led to people in the NT being killed by God.
When Jesus returns we face him. We make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:9) How you live now matters. It is not about whether we are saved. But God will ask every believer, how have you lived? Live for That Day. As a pastor, your job is to prepare people to meet their maker. This life is a tiny moment compared with eternity.
An hour is coming when the dead will rise again and face God, some for life, some for judgement. (John 5:29)
We must be a people who realise that when Christ returns their will be infinite eternal celebration. We live in a very broken world. We must allow our hearts to be broken for the reality that faces the world around us. Blessed is he who mourns. We must have an anguish in our souls. God baptises a man or woman in his anguish. As you walk more and more intimately with God then we will want to live in such a way that judgement is real. We will seek to persuade others.
Tom finished by showing a video that contained exceprts from the following clip of David Wilkenson (author of The Cross and the Switchblade). I urge you to watch this, and be impacted by it: