Albert Martin’s The Forgotten Fear is a very good book on a much neglected topic. I reviewed my notes for it this week and was struck again by the urgency of the subject. In the book’s opening chapter Martin examines a series of texts related to the fear of God and, having looked at each of them, draws three important conclusions.
What can we conclude in light of these pivotal texts found in both the Old and the New Testaments? First, I believe we are warranted to conclude that to be devoid of the fear of God is to be devoid of biblical and saving religion. It matters not how many texts of Scripture we can quote, or how many promises we may claim to believe. In the light of the texts of Scripture we have briefly considered (and they are but a sampling of many more), it is neither unkind nor unjust to assert that if you do not know what the fear of God is in your heart and life, you do not know experientially the first thing about true biblical and saving religion. That is a serious conclusion, but no less a conclusion can be drawn from these passages. Since Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of biblical religion, and since the Spirit given to Him and sent from Him is the Spirit of the fear of God, to be without the fear of God is to be without the Spirit of Christ. Romans 8:9 says that those without the Spirit of Christ do not belong to Christ. If such teaching is utterly foreign to you and leaves you completely baffled, you need to engage in some serious reflection. You need to examine the Scriptures and cry out to God, asking Him to teach you what it is to fear Him, for you see that if you are devoid of His fear, you have no true saving religion.
The second conclusion we are warranted in making is this: one of the accurate measurements of true spiritual growth is the measure to which one increases in walking in the fear of God. The Bible speaks of Hananiah in Nehemiah 7:2 as a man who “feared God more than many.” His spiritual stature as a man who possessed spiritual maturity, wisdom, and godliness to an exceptional degree was in great measure due to the fact that he “feared God more than many.”
Third, to be ignorant of the meaning of the fear of God is to be ignorant of a basic and essential doctrine of revealed religion. There are no doubt many in our day who are genuine Christians yet who are sadly deficient in their understanding of the concept of the fear of God. They are not strangers to the fear of God in their experience, but they are very unclear about the fear of God in their understanding. Are you such a Christian? Has your reading of this book thus far been like walking on ground unfamiliar to you? Since growth in grace is always joined to growth in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18), it is vital to give yourself to earnest prayer and study so that you might have a clearer understanding of the fear of God. This, in turn, will lead to your further Christian growth and development.