The Fear of God

The Fear of God - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

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What is wrong with us? Why don’t we have an intimate relationship with God like Abraham, whom God called His friend?

I believe our root problem is that we know nothing about the fear of the Lord that Abraham had in his life. You see, Abraham never considered God as his “buddy” or as a means to get his wishes granted. Most important, Abraham never separated his personal life from his “ministry” or service to the One who called him out of a people of idol worshipers in Ur. He willingly accepted pain, inconvenience and sacrifice in order to worship and serve the living God.

When God told him, “Abraham, take your son, your only son, whom you love, and offer him as a sacrifice,” he didn’t tell anyone. He hurt deeply but accepted the pain and followed God’s instructions. To obey the Lord unseen—in secret—is the foundation of genuine godly service. Abraham had a reverence for His God that did not question His purpose, lordship or wisdom. He did not panic at the thought of how all this would affect the future. He responded with complete obedience, loving Him supremely even in the midst of his greatest pain.

Just when Abraham was about to slaughter Isaac on the altar, God held him back and said to him, “Now I know that you fear God” (Genesis 22:12). The literal translation of this verse actually says, “Now I know that you are a fearer of God.” God definitely knew beforehand that Abraham would be willing to follow through with this ultimate sacrifice, but Abraham himself needed to know for sure how far his commitment to God would go. And it is extremely important for us to hear, from God’s mouth, the bottom line of Abraham’s obedience: the fear of God.

For each of us to build our life, family, future and service on the correct foundation, we too must understand what it means to walk in the fear of the Lord.

Luke 2:40 says this about Jesus: “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” How did this happen? Psalm 111:10 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” and Hebrews 5:7 testifies that Jesus had this godly fear during His life on earth.

Furthermore, when Paul talks about authentic ministry in 2 Corinthians 7:1, he writes, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” We cannot become like Abraham or Jesus without submitting to the fear of the Lord in this manner!

But how can we even begin to develop this fear of God, which compels us to obey God just because He is Lord?

When God first called Abraham, he had the fear of idol and demon gods in him, but not yet the fear of the true and living God. After all, he didn’t know Him or His nature of righteousness and love. Considering this, God did not tell Abraham at their first encounter that down the road He was going to ask Abraham to sacrifice his son. You see, Abraham first had to grow in his closeness with God and come to a place in which they were very intimate friends before God could entrust to him such a request.

A definite start in our quest for the fear of the Lord is walking with Him one step at a time and practicing obedience with a joyful heart and without complaints. Our thinking about our rights must drastically change as well. Actually, we need nothing short of a revelation in our spirit of what it means to be bought with a price—and I believe God will give that to us if we ask Him! Truly recognizing our place and God’s position will place in our hearts the reverence and fear of God that we so desperately need to walk in obedience as Abraham did.

Excerpt from Chapter 6 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

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