Set Your Heart to Fear

Our great salvation begins here.

Such a Great Salvation (16)

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12.28

Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.  Psalm 85.9

The end of salvation
As believers, we understand that the end of our salvation – the ultimate reason why we have been saved – is that God may be glorified, that the riches of His wisdom, goodness, love, mercy, and power might be on display to the world through us, His people. God is glorified by those who are saved as they, receiving grace upon grace from Him, serve Him acceptably in every area of their lives. Our great salvation brings life, light, and newness to all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities, turning our world increasingly rightside-up for Jesus.

Saved by grace, led by grace, and strengthened by grace, we who are saved go into our appointed place in the Lord’s field to sow, cultivate, and harvest Kingdom seed, so that the rule of King Jesus may come on earth in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We have received this unshakable Kingdom, and the power that goes with it, so that Jesus may rule and renew our souls, transform our lives, and fill our world with Himself, to the glory of God the Father (Eph. 4.7-10).

To emphasize: Salvation is not merely something we receive so that we may feel relieved, forgiven, assured, loved, and safe. Salvation is given to us so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, as He makes Himself known in every facet and place of our lives.

And this happens as, seeing how great our salvation is, we do not neglect it, but attend to it faithfully, diligently, seeking day by day to realize more of this great salvation and to shine its light, shake its salt, and knead its leaven into every part of our world, serving God and the people around us in good deeds of love.

But we will do none of this without meeting the primary condition for knowing more of our great salvation. And that condition is the fear of God.

The beginning of salvation
God’s glory is the end of salvation, and the fear of God is its beginning. When we come to salvation, we realize how utterly undeserving of this grace we are. We recognize our deep and pervasive sinfulness, and that we are confronted by God All Holy and Almighty, and are exposed for the wretches we are. We know that God hates sin. We know that He has often consumed and destroyed sinners, and that in doing so He is altogether just and to be praised.

Yet here we stand before Him, robed in the blood and righteousness of Jesus, filled with the joy of forgiveness, and assured that no condemnation awaits us because our lives have been hidden with Christ in God (Rom. 8.1; Col. 3.1-3).

Still, we cannot help but fear this God, Who is a consuming fire. And this is precisely as God intends. As He spoke through Jeremiah, the new covenant God enters into with us through Jesus demands that we live before Him in fear: “They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me” (Jer. 32.38-40).

Let me say this more pointedly, and in line with what God Himself says here: If you have no fear of God in your heart; if you do not fear Him with reverence, awe, and a measure of fear that only God can provoke (Greek: δέος), then you should carefully consider whether you have entered God’s new covenant at all. If our hearts are not united in all their affections by the fear of God, then we do not know God truly (Ps. 86.11-13), and we have no part in His great salvation. 

Embrace the fear of God
The fear of God should grow in us as we increase in the knowledge of God. How can we not fear this One Who holds in His hand every facet, particle, moment, and portion of our lives, to do with as He pleases?

This great God – the mere edges of Whose ways we glimpse in storms and galaxies and powers of creation so fearful we tremble for our lives – this God owns us, having purchased us through the precious blood of His own dear Son. We are not our own; we have been bought with a price. And God may do with us as He pleases, and whatever He pleases to do with us will be right and just and holy.

The beginning of wisdom is to fear God (Ps. 111.10). By fearing God, we determine to obey and serve Him, thus giving ourselves to the very purpose of our salvation, that He might be glorified. As we obey and serve Him, we discover the infinite supply of His grace that flows to us and through us to others, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5.1, 2). Then, as God is glorified in our lives, and we realize that He has been pleased to use us to show His Son to the world, our love for Him increases – the other side of the affective coin of fear – and we want nothing more than to fear, obey, serve, love, and delight in Him more and more (Deut. 10.12, 13, 20, 21).

As Solomon put it so succinctly at the end of his meditations on the purpose of our lives: “Fear God, and keep His commandments; this is what it means to be a human being” (Eccl. 12.13, my paraphrase).

If you would attend to your great salvation, and grow increasingly in it, then you must learn to fear God, and continue to fear Him – with wondrous freedom and joy – every day of your life.

For reflection
1.  The fear of God is more than reverence and awe. Explain.

2.  Why is the fear of God so important to realizing more of our great salvation?

3.  What can you do to nurture more of the fear of God in your heart? 

Next steps – Preparation: Decide on some daily exercises that will help you to grow in and sustain the fear of God. Put these into practice immediately.

T. M. Moore

Our course, Introduction to Spiritual Theology, can help you gain a larger experience of salvation. Watch this brief video (click here), then register with The Ailbe Seminary, enroll in this free course, and take up the journey toward a much greater experience of salvation.

Our salvation is as great as Jesus is great. But do you know how great He really is? Our book, To Know Him, can help you to see Jesus more clearly. Order a copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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