Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. (Psalm 36:1)

The Fear Of The Lord Is The Beginning Of Knowledge

Did you know that God the Holy Spirit felt that this bit of instruction was so important He would inspire the Apostle Paul to quote it again in Romans 3:18? Obviously the attitude of “fearing” God is so important to the believer’s understanding about our Lord that it needs to be reiterated. And yet the question that lies before us is: Does the increasingly man-centered contemporary evangelical community in this timid generation actually heed the call to fear the Lord anymore?

It pains me to share this with you, but anyone who loves Jesus and His Church, and has any amount of discernment, can’t help but see the drift into a New Downgrade. Who could possibly deny that large sections of apostatizing evangelicalism here in postmodern America, as well as world-wide, have lost much of that fear of God right before our very eyes. Truly we are witnessing a falling away that’s taking place in our midst as this apostasy continues to spread.

Can you see the problem yet? The visible Christian church by definition should be made up of all those who are called out of the world to worship God through Christ. Yet it’s now bending so far over backward to please this evil world system that its message has actually gone from Theocentric, i.e. centered on God to anthropocentric, i.e. centered on man; and as such, is now exactly opposite from the actual teaching of the God’s Word in the Bible.

This lunacy in the Lord’s Name has got to stop. The time has arrived where those of us who truly love our Lord, and our fellow man, must begin to take an honest look at something which is so sadly lacking in the church of Jesus Christ today—even within the evangelical camp—that it’s nearly unforgivable. What is so appallingly absent would be our own esteem for the dreadful and awesome majesty of the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and completely sovereign Yahweh El Shaddai—the LORD God Almighty as revealed in Holy Scripture.

In his book The Holiness of God, which I recommend, noted Christian theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul writes:

If God is the Creator of the entire universe, then it must follow that He is the Lord of the whole universe. There is no part of the world that is outside of His Lordship. That means there must be no part of my life that is outside of His Lordship. His Holy character has something to say about economics, politics, athletics, romance–everything that we are involved with.

This is a concept that has been completely lost within our society, which as a result, has ended up perverting what it really means to be independent. The Bible says — It is the Lord your God you shall fear (Deuteronomy 6:13) and Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Psalm 34:11). Dr. John W. Baigent offers the following insightful comment on the phrase “the fear of the Lord: [it is] that way of life which springs from a reverent acknowledgement of the holiness of God.”[1]

He then refers the reader to the following verse of Holy Scripture — The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). A little background study into the word “fear,” the Hebrew word yare, will reveal that it means, “to be afraid” [and] “to stand in awe.”[2] In this latter sense to “fear the Lord” is to stand in awe–fear–as in reverence. However, there is another aspect of this word yare as in “to be afraid” of. You need to understand that if you personally do not have a saving relationship with the Lord God Almighty, by His grace alone–through faith alone–in the finished work of Christ alone on the Cross–then you do have much to fear.

Fear as in “be afraid; be very afraid.” The Apostle Matthew quotes Jesus of Nazareth as saying — fear him [Almighty God] who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). And it must never be forgotten, that Matthew was personally standing right there as the Master spoke; unless you are listening to an increasing number of “evangelical” scholars today who apparently know more than the ancient Church Fathers who said that he was. And not only that, but the Bible has a very stern warning for all those who persist in their self-ish–sinful ways.

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries… It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-27,31)

While it is true people do not like to think of God this way, at the same time, it must also be noted that ignorance of any subject will never change the facts that surround that particular subject. The following puts the importance of this issue in proper perspective:

For the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of the judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31). For the believer, the fear of God is something much different.

The believer’s fear is reverence of God. Hebrews 12:28-29 is a good description of this: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ’God is a consuming fire.’”

This reverence and awe is exactly what the fear of God means for Christians. This is the motivating factor for us to surrender to the Creator of the Universe.

Proverbs 1:7 declares, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Until we understand who God is and develop a reverential fear of Him, we cannot have true wisdom. True wisdom comes only from understanding who God is and that He is holy, just, and righteous.

A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer. (Online source)

Here’s a quick synopsis of how we came to live in this age that has critically obscured our reverent fear of Almighty God. Satan finally succeeded in raising up what Dr. Walter Martin, who was widely recognized as the “father of modern cult apologetics,” called the Cult of Liberal Theology. And in an onslaught against the Body of Christ beginning just around the first World War Satan started playing the heartstrings of mankind’s selfish sinful nature like a master violinist. A veritable symphony of insipid indifference and tepid tolerance, which continues to serve the purpose of amusing the enemy of men’s souls to this very day.

Satan’s puppet pulpiteers—his counterfeit prophets and false teachers—began to fill the pulpits of our nation to begin to make it seem as if the perfectly just and majestic God of the Bible—Yahweh Elohim—was more and more like man. The great and awesome I AM Who once told Moses — “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5) has been ever so gradually transformed into what evangelist Leonard Ravenhill once called “the mush God.”

You’ve all heard of him/her/it. The innocuous, bland and nonjudgmental “god of love” that all religions supposedly eventually lead to, because mankind is just so wonderful that he/she/it truly couldn’t possibly bear to part with any of us delightful little creatures. This limp and lukewarm mystic mush god of our age of Laodicea is the one invoked before public functions when some supposed minister begins to pray: “O God of our fathers in yonder heaven; in your providence, show us Thy tender mercies – ‘bless our mess’ – etc., etc., yak, yak…”

For now, let me close out this discussion concerning the rapidly accelerating apostasy within the mainstream of the evangelical community with these telling words from A.W. Tozer. While I don’t agree with everything he taught, I ask you to consider if you will, that Tozer is preaching this sermon in the mid-1950’s. I’d also like to ask you to carefully reflect on something else as well as you read. Do you really think that the visible church of our Lord Jesus Christ today is stronger now than it was then?

You must also ask yourself, do you really think that in this generation we are seeing the radically changed lives of Christians that we read about in the New Testament; and that we have also witnessed down through the ages in Church history? And are we Christians turning the world upside down; or, have we in fact, become even more worldly since Tozer’s time? He put his finger right on the problem in his comments about the so-called “new” pragmatic methods of preaching the Gospel, which were just becoming popular back in his day.

For truly this weak-willed compromise of Biblical righteousness within the Church Growth Movement is not really new at all. As through the eyes of a prophet, Tozer could see the Willow Creeks and the Saddlebacks and the Lakewoods coming, and in his inimitable style he said:

The old cross [killed] men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter. The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the [old] cross; before that cross it bows and toward that cross it points with carefully staged histrionics – but upon that cross it will not die, and the reproach of that cross it stubbornly refuses to bear.

I well know how many smooth arguments can be marshaled in support of the new cross. Does not the new cross win converts and make many followers and so carry the advantage of numerical success? Should we not adjust ourselves to the changing times? Have we not heard the slogan ‘New days, new ways?’ And who but someone very old and very conservative would insist upon death as the appointed way to life?

And who today is interested in a gloomy mysticism that would sentence its flesh to a cross and recommend self-effacing humility as a virtue actually to be practiced [even] by modern Christians? These are the arguments, along with many more flippant still, which are brought forward to give an appearance of wisdom to the hollow and meaningless cross of popular Christianity.[3]


[1] F.F. Bruce, Gen. Ed., New International Bible Commentary [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976], 579, emphasis mine).

[2] W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986], 79.

[3] A.W. Tozer, Tozer On Christian Leadership [Camp Hill: Christian Publications, Inc, 2001], July 22, emphasis mine.

See also: