At the Honor Academy, they talk a lot about the “fear of the Lord.” You are cautioned not to become too “chummy” or familiar with God – after all, He is the King of Kings, the God of the Universe and you need to show him the proper respect. Here is a recent comment to illustrate:
I believe the “Aura of a Statesman” falls under the Excellence core value. Moses and Paul are from a different culture. Moses may not have been an excellent speaker but he grew up as royalty in the king’s house which taught him “protocol”. He was raised by a king so he knew how to treat the King of Kings. That is why there is a scripture that talks about how close Moses was to God…
In America we live under a democracy. We choose our elected officials. This seems great but it hasn’t taught us how to treat or deal with royalty. We don’t understand the protocol. God is the King of Kings. We have no point of reference in our society of a King.
This week, I also received this email from an alumnus:
I actually owned a CD set of John Bevere teaching “The Fear of the Lord” as a path to intimacy with God. I’m not sure where the intimacy would come in, but his primary message was that we don’t respect God enough in church. We want to be all chummy with Jesus, but He’s God, and God is powerful and could kill us instantly if He wanted to. I remember he yelled most of his teaching on the CD.
Both of these comments seem to suggest that the fear of God is an extremely important, if not primary way, that we are to approach and deal with God. Probably the most oft-quoted Scripture in this regards is from Proverbs 1:7a
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge
Notice it says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, not the culmination. Its the starting point, not the ending point. Its kind of like saying, “Kindergarten is the beginning of school.” You start in kindergarten, some important things happen there, but you don’t aspire to stay there. Eventually, you grow and move beyond the basics.
So what does the New Testament say about approaching God as King through fear? Does God want us to primarily approach him through a servant/King dynamic? Does he want us to be afraid of Him?
1) The law was given to bring us to Christ. We do not stay enslaved to, or afraid of, the law.
Galatians 3:25-25: Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
2) Instead of being slaves, we are now God’s friends through Christ.
John 15:15: I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
2b) We are also adopted into His family now. God is our daddy and He doesn’t want us to be afraid of Him any more.
Romans 8:15-16:For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
3) Through Christ, we can approach God with freedom and confidence, not fear.
Ephesians 3:12 : In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
4) We have a mediator that sympathizes with us so we don’t have to be afraid.
Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
5) We can actually rely on God’s love for us! We don’t have to fear judgment! Fear actually shows our immaturity, not our maturity.
I John 4: 16-18: And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Now, I’m no expert on this topic. And there certainly are NT references to fearing God. But, all Scripture has to be interpreted in light of Jesus because He is the image of the invisible God. In light of who Jesus was and the way He revealed the Father as sympathetic to us and loving us tells me that the way TM teaches fear is not reflective of the heart of God. We are to come to him with boldness, freedom, confidence and without fear. The HA teaches you to fear God’s punishment – but I John says that you don’t understand God’s love if you still fear his punishment. So who are you going to believe: Jesus or the Honor Academy?