1. I hope you have your Bible with you this morning. It's always good to come to Church with a Bible. Please share your Bible with someone who may not have one today, as we turn to Psalm 47. And when you find the 47th Psalm, please stand for the reading of God's Word.
2. "O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.
For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.
He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.
He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah (pause and ponder)
God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.
God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.
The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted."
3. My, what a tremendous psalm to read and rejoice over. This is a psalm that celebrates the fact that our God reigns. Amen? This is a psalm that anticipates victory. This is a psalm that exults over the fact that God is King, that God sits on the throne, and that God will subdue and conquer unbelievers.
4. My text for this morning is one phrase in this Psalm, the first half of verse 2. "For the LORD most high is terrible."
5. To say that God is terrible is to make an astounding statement in the day and age in which we live. But that's only because our culture has so twisted and perverted the notion of what it is to be terrible that folks always think of terrible as always being bad. But understand, God is terrible . . . and that's good.
6. You see, when Scripture describes God as terrible it does not mean that God is bad. It means that God is One Who is fearful. It means that God is One Who is fit to be feared.
7. Now, in this day of spiritual apostasy many who claim to be Christians will decry the notion that a Christian should fear God, or that God should inspire terror in His children. But you need to understand that God is fit to be feared by His children for their good. Two considerations for the Christian about fearing God.
1A. FIRST, WHY YOU, AS A CHRISTIAN, SHOULD FEAR GOD
I'll give you only three reasons why you should fear God, who know Christ as your Savior.
1B. First, You Should Fear God Because Of Who You Are
1C. Listen as I read Isaiah 6.1-5, the words of the prophet Isaiah: "In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
2C. Think about this. Here is an anointed prophet of God. And his life is holy and consecrated for service to God. But when he catches a glimpse of God's glory and greatness he is terrified, and when he hears the angels crying out the holiness of God, he realizes something about himself. My friends, you should fear God, as Isaiah obviously feared God, because of who you are.
2B. Second, You Should Fear God Because Of Who God Is
1C. Isaiah 8.13: "Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." This is a very strong admonition.
2C. My friend, you should fear God because of Who He is. You should fear God because it is right. Scripture declares that God is terrible in majesty. In other words, He is just so profoundly impressive that He should be feared.
3B. Third, You Should Fear The Lord Because Your Fear Of The Lord Is A Treasure
1C. Listen to Isaiah 33.6: "And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure."
2C. Did you catch that? The fear of the LORD is God's treasure. Now, He doesn't fear Himself. That's not what He considers to be a treasure. It's when you fear Him that He considers it a treasure.
3C. So, three reasons why you should fear God. First, because of who you are. And who are you? You are nothing compared to God. Second, because of Who God is. God is everything compared to you. And third, because fearing God is something valuable, something treasured by God, something important.
2A. HERE'S ANOTHER CONSIDERATION ABOUT CHRISTIANS FEARING GOD. THERE ARE BENEFITS DERIVED FROM FEARING GOD.
What are these benefits that a Christian derives from fearing God? Let me quickly review only five of the benefits, viewed from the negative side of the coin.
1B. First, If There Is No Fear Of God There Is No Wisdom
1C. Job 28.28: "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom." It is wise to fear the Lord.
2C. Proverbs 9.10: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." Without the fear of the LORD you have no wisdom, since the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.
3C. First Peter 3.2: "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While
they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear." I wonder if many women fail to influence their unsaved husbands because, since they have no fear of God, they have not the wisdom necessary to properly deal with their unsaved husband.
2B. Second, If There Is No Fear There Is No Knowledge
1C. Proverbs 1.7: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." And doesn't this make sense? A man who doesn't know enough to fear God is a man who doesn't know much.
2C. Psalm 25.14: "The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him." There are things God will reveal to a man who fears Him that He will reveal to no one else.
3C. Romans 3.18: "There is no fear of God before their eyes." This is the great indictment of God against the unsaved. They do not fear Him.
3B. No Fear No Wisdom, No Fear No Knowledge, And Third, No Fear No Clean
1C. Psalm 19.9 declares that "The fear of the LORD is clean." That is, it is pure and holy and undefiled to fear God. But that's not all.
2C. Get your concordance out and look up the number of times the Bible reads something like "that feareth God and eschewth evil." One way in which fearing God is clean is that it provokes the child of God to avoid sin. Contrariwise, if you do not fear God you will not fear committing sin against Him.
3C. Proverbs 14.16 is only one of numerous verses that confirms this truth: "A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil."
4B. Fourth, Related To The Previous Benefits Of Wisdom, If There Is No Fear There Is No Obedience
1C. Some people think there is something wrong with serving and obeying God from the motive of fear. But fearing God is wise and clean and knowledgeable.
2C. King Solomon understood the connection between fearing God and obeying Him, as we see from comments Solomon made when he was dedicating the Temple, in Second Chronicles 6.31: "That they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers."
3C. It's a truly foolish person who thinks there is a conflict between loving God and fearing God, or between loving your father while fearing him at the same time. And the same is true, or should be true of your mother. It isn't the love that produces the motive to obey, but the fear.
5B. No Fear No Wisdom. No Fear No Knowledge. No Fear No Clean, No Avoidance Of Sin. No Fear No Obedience. And Finally, No Fear No Evangelism.
1C. Folks, where there is no fear of God people do not get saved. Let me remind you that the lost will not fear God if the saved do not fear God, and when there is no fear of God no one gets saved. Your children will not get saved so long as you do not fear God, or your spouse.
2C. Second Corinthians 5.11: "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade me." It is our knowledge of the fear of God which prompts us to seek the salvation of the lost.
3C. But notice what the Word of God says about the fear of the lost for God. I read from Psalm 66.18 and Psalm 85.9.
4C. Psalm 66.18: "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul." Apparently, the psalmist seeks to tell those who fear God what has been done for his own soul. Could it be the psalmist knows that those who do not fear God are not properly prepared to hear what God did for his soul, that those who do not fear God are unprepared?
5C. Psalm 85.9: "Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him." Perhaps we would do well to seek to bring the lost to a healthy fear of God and then show them how they can be saved, since salvation is nigh, or close to, them that fear God.
1. How can anyone who claims to be a Christian decry a healthy and wholesome fear of God?
2. Simple. The so-called Christianity that is espoused these days, which denigrates and criticizes the fear of God, a fear which really is fear, is not Bible Christianity at all.
3. Now, brother Isenberger comes to lead us as we sing before this morning's sermon to the lost.
1. "The LORD most high is terrible." To say that God is terrible means that He is fearful, that He is fit to be feared.
2. I have mentioned why God should be feared and the benefits of fearing God during my exposition to the saved. Let no one be mistaken, however, who thinks that only those who have come to Christ ought to fear God, for that would be in error.
3. Let me read something to you from Jeremiah 5.21-22: "Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence?"
4. People who are foolish, without understanding, who are blind and do not hear, are people who are lost. And God says to such, "Fear ye not me? Will ye not tremble at my presence?"
5. My friends, let me share with you four reasons why you should fear God and tremble before Him:
1A. FIRST, BECAUSE YOUR NATURAL LIFE SPAN WILL BE SHORTER IF YOU DO NOT FEAR GOD
Ecclesiastes 8.12-13: "Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God."
Ephesians 6.1-3: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live
long on the earth."
1B. Just a few comments here before we move on. Yes, there is the occasional wicked man who lives to be very, very old. Yes, there are some who do not fear God who live for many, many years. There is the George Burns who lives to a ripe old age, and a Jack Benny, and a Bob Hope, and a John D. Rockefeller. But those men are exceptions.
2B. The man who lives to a great age, but who does not fear God, lives days that are described as just shadows, because they mean nothing and will all too quickly pass, leaving him to face at the judgment seat the God he has refused to fear.
3B. As for the person who fears God (and the fear of God is a proper motivation to honor one's parents, since the one who does not honor his parents does not fear God). To the one who fears God is promised a life that is longer than it might ordinarily be.
4B. So, you should fear God because God controls the duration of your natural span of life. You should fear God because it is God's pleasure to either grant to you or deny to you your next breath, or the next beat of your heart. And because you do not fear God your life will be shorter.
2A. SECOND, YOU SHOULD FEAR GOD AND TREMBLE BEFORE HIM BECAUSE EVEN FEARSOME MEN KNOW TO FEAR GOD
1B. Let me read to you a portion of Acts chapter 10: "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God."
2B. You may not know anything about Roman centurions from your own reading or investigation. It could be that your entire mental impression of a Roman centurion comes from some old movie starring Victor Mature or Charlton Heston or Stephen Boyd.
3B. But there are some things about Roman centurions that we in our society do not relate to very well, because there is no counterpart in our society to a Roman centurion. These men were the building
blocks on which the empire the world has come to know as Rome was built. Though not physically imposing, since most Romans as a rule were from four to six inches shorter on average than we are, the centurion was, nevertheless, a commissioned officer in the Imperial Roman army in charge of one hundred of the most brutal and efficient killers the world to that time had ever seen.
4B. So, a Roman centurion was not one who majored on compassion and sensitivity. He was not a community policing specialist. Neither was he anything like an effeminate sissy or an effete snob. He was a capable man who ruled fearsome men. He was a man who wielded imperial authority, who routinely made life and death decisions. He was a man who built an empire.
5B. Yet we find, first in Matthew chapter 8, then here in Acts chapter 10, and then in other portions of Scripture and in Church history, Roman centurions who were God fearing men. Roman centurions who, as personally powerful and unopposed in the routines of everyday life as they were, found cause and occasion to fear the one true and living God.
6B. So, if you do not fear God it will not be because you are too manly. It will not be because you are too powerful or too fearsome or too strong. If you do not fear God it will only be because you are too foolish, or too blind, or too deaf, . . . or too stupid
3A. THIRD, YOU SHOULD FEAR GOD BECAUSE OF THE EXPECTATION OF GOD'S JUDGMENT AND FIERY INDIGNATION
1B. "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries," Hebrews 10.26-27. And that's written to converted people.
2B. This comes right after that verse that warns Christians not to be like those who don't go to Church. The point of this passage is that those who continually sin when they know better, yet who refuse to do right, have no more sacrifice for sins, "But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery
indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
3B. My friend, your iniquity has separated between you and your God. His anger against you for your rebellion is fueled by your stubbornness to a greater intensity, and all you have to look forward to in this life, should you not get saved, is the judgment and fiery indignation of God.
4B. How very depressing is the thought of going through life with a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation. But, of course, a person will try his best to suppress such feelings, because who wants to think about God's impending judgment all the time? After all, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." And who wants to continually think about falling into the hands of the living God?
5B. And this will necessitate that such a person not think of God, not give any credence to spiritual matters, with the result that not only he but his wife and kids and almost certainly his grandchildren will go to Hell with him, since he will be an obstacle to their involvement in Church and will oppose any exposure to the Gospel that might result in his own conscience being pricked.
4A. FINALLY, YOU SHOULD FEAR GOD BECAUSE IT IS GOD WHO WILL SOMEDAY CAST YOUR SOUL INTO HELLFIRE
1B. "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." That's what the Lord Jesus Christ advised, in Matthew 10.28. And His advice would be well for everyone to follow.
2B. I say this because Hell is the destiny of every man and woman who does not fear God, who does not fear God enough to turn from sins and turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation. After all, there are only two possible destinies for each and every immortal soul, and your soul's destiny will not be altered or changed in any way after you die and go to where you are going to go.
1. My friend, "The Lord most high is terrible." He is fearful and He is most fit to be feared. Yet you do not fear Him. Why not?
2. You do not fear God because the fear of God is actually a grace, a sweet and blessed work of the Holy Spirit of God in the lives of the elect who know Christ, or who will come to know Christ.
3. This is why the writer of Hebrews says, "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."
4. As well, this fear of God, being, as I mentioned before, "God's treasure," is a choice jewel and a rarity of heaven. And just as "All men have not faith" (Second Thessalonians 3.2), so all men have not the fear of God, which is more precious than gold.
5. When poor vagrants come straggling to some rich man's house, they may perhaps obtain some scraps and fragments. They may also obtain old shoes and old clothes to wear. But they get none of the rich man's jewels. They are not allowed to touch his choicest treasure. The choicest treasure, you see, is kept for his children and for those who will be his heirs. So it is with the fear of the Lord.
6. I do pray that God will grant to you this grace of fear. My desire is that this grace of fear will soften your heart, and will make you stand in awe of both the mercy and the judgment of God.
7. I do hope that you will, as David said in Psalm 4.4, "Stand in awe, and sin not," because "the Lord most high is terrible."