The Missing Ingredient

Bible Book: Acts 
Subject: God, Fear of; Fear Of God


The first time that I grilled hamburgers was a disaster. I took the ground beef and made the patties just like I had seen my dad do it, prepared the fire just like dad had, and watched over the patties until they became light brown through and through. I was SO proud. In fact, I was so proud that I was uncharacteristically the first one in line! On this burger I spared nothing! All the regular condiments were applied; cheese (2 slices), tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and all the rest were a part of this great burger. All was well until my first bite. Now, it all looked good, was prepared with great care, and was the envy of everyone there. But it tasted horrible. Why? I had left out one ingredient, salt. There was no seasoning on the meat and the word ‘bland’ did not even touch the description of the taste.

In the 21st century, the American believers and church, have more resources than at any time and any place throughout the history of Christianity. We have books, curriculum, technology, music, and much more, we have everything any one could ask for to develop the best church in history and still the American church is losing ground in our culture. In fact we are losing ground faster than at any time in American history. We are weaker than at any time in American history. And we are dying faster than at any time in American history. Wonder why that is?

Perhaps we could gather preachers, theologians, as well as rank and file church members and come with a list of reasons, but would that list contain the real truth? Let me ask, “Why do you think the church is so weak today?” (Poll the congregation for answers)

As I have studied and prayed about this subject, I believe we can find the answer in our message today. Turn with me to Acts 9:31.

There were 3 or 4 significant events of note. First, there was the stoning of Stephen. This event impacted both the believers & the opposition in a significant way. The result brought about the next big event, the spreading of the saints. Jesus had said “Go to the entire world” but they had been content to stay in the area of Jerusalem. (You know, it just wasn’t time to divide their Sunday school class.) In the earlier part of Chapter 9, we read about the Salvation of Saul. As Saul grew in the Lord, he was moved from place to place for his own safety until he was sent home to Tarsus. (Read)

This verse speaks of several characteristics which, I believe, the Lord desires for us to possess. There are at least 5 or 6 qualities which we would desire for the church of today. By way of introduction, let me name them.

Unity – Think about the verse “so the church”, not the churches. Although the KJV uses the plural, the indication is that the word in Greek is in the singular form. Think about this; the church should be singular in mind, thought, focus and purpose.

Peace – Some of the synonyms for this word is tranquility, harmony, safety, and lack of fear. Think about it, the Bible says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace” so does it not stand to reason that “if’ the Spirit is in the church, peace should abound?

Being Built Up - The KJV uses the word edified which means they were building one another up in the faith. Now, this is a construction terms which literally means they were “helping each other grow up in the faith.” We would call this discipleship.

Encouraged by the Holy Spirit – Remember that Jesus called the Holy Spirit the comforter and this encouragement offered by the offer spirit was indeed comfort, consolation, and exhortation. He, the Holy Spirit, is the “paraklete.” (Para means ‘one to stand alongside’) For the supernatural church, the Holy Spirit is right beside, encouraging and helping.

Increased in Numbers – The KJV uses the word multiplied. B. H. Carroll suggests that in the first year of existence, the church grew to some 250,000. I would call that multiplying.

Yet with these five ingredients name, there is one which I believe is missing today. One that demands our attention and it is found in the middle of this verse. Let’s read the verse again, “Walking in the Fear of God.”

This concept of fear is seemingly unpopular today as we have now raised one, maybe two generations which have as their mantra, “No Fear.” In the past five years a Bible Study was produced by a well known SBC Pastor entitled, “No Fear.” There is even a company which produces “no fear gear.” Today, we seem to fear nothing. In fact on the internet this week, I saw a survey which said 80% of people we not afraid to die. It would seem that fear of anything has almost been surgically removed from our culture. Now the Bible says, “Perfect love cast out all fear” and that God doesn’t give us the spirit of fear, but make no mistake, the fear of God is needed.

Here is the question; could it be that the one missing ingredient in the life of the church, in the lives of believers, and in our culture is the fear of God? Could it be that we have lost a true vision of the “Holiness and Highness of God” and thus have lost the “fear” which the ancients knew so well?

Could the loss of the fear of God be the reason that the church has ceased impacting the culture and has allowed the culture to impact the church?

This morning I ask 3 questions. The first is a “why” question; “Why should we fear God?” The second is a “what” question; “What does it mean to fear God?” The last question is a “how” question; “How do I fear God and How does it impact me?” First, the why question;

I. Why Should I Fear God?

Not too many years ago this would have been considered a silly question, yet today some think it silly to broach the subject of the “fear of God.” Allow me to offer 3 reasons to fear God.

A. It Is Conveyed In The Bible

Fearing God is a common theme throughout the pages of Holy Scripture. When Joseph was on the throne speaking to his brothers, he said, “I fear God.”

In Exodus 1 when the midwives were helping the Jewish women in birthing the babies, Pharaoh had said, “all the boys should die” but the midwives feared God more than Pharaoh.

In 2 Samuel we are told that David feared the Lord.

We note in 1 Kings that Obadiah Greatly feared the Lord.

Do you remember in the story of Jonah that even the pagan sailors feared the Lord?

In the New Testament, the book of the Acts speaks of Cornelius as a devout man who feared the Lord.

We would go on and on naming people and places who identify with and teach that the we should live in the fear of the Lord.

B. It Is Commanded In The Bible

All through the Bible it is stated in the imperative sense that we are to Fear God. We read this in places like Leviticus 19, Leviticus 25, Deuteronomy 6, Joshua 24, 1 Samuel 23, 2 Kings 17, Proverbs 3, Ecclesiastes 12, and even 1 Peter 2 that we are to fear God. The truth is that the Bible both  conveys to us and commands us to fear God. I wonder, do we?

C. It Is Common Sense Apart From The Bible

In January 1991 I was at the Second Baptist Church of Houston, Texas and heard Dr. Ed Young tell the story about his atheist roommate who said, “If you truly believe that there is a God, then you are an idiot for not living more like you believe it.”

When I was a kid in Purvis, Mississippi, there were some older boys that I walked in fear of. I never crossed them on purpose for any reason. Can you figure out why?

If there is a God, and there is, should not common sense invoke and evoke in us a fear of Him which takes control of everyday life and living? There are some here who are saying, “To fear God does not mean to be afraid of Him, it really means something else.”

Personally, I have a knee-jerk reaction to this kind of attitude. Note Romans 3:18, where Paul laments, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” But let’s ask the second question...

II. What Does It Mean To Fear God?

Exactly what does the fear of God mean? Both Testaments in the Bible offer similar meanings to this question, “Stand in awe before Him” and to have a “reverential awe which becomes a motivation.” What exactly does this mean? I confess for me this definitely means recognition of Him like I used to recognize those bullies in town.

A. Recognize His Person

Who is God? In Exodus 3, Moses asked God this question and was told “I Am.” In these two words we find a wealth of meaning about God. He didn’t say “I was” or even “I will be”, His words are “I am.” God is a person but unlike any person we have ever met. He is eternal, unchangeable in nature, pure, holy, ever-present, all-wise, and all-knowing.

B. Recognize His Position

What is His position? He is the Creator of the world and the sustainer of our lives. This means life and death are in His hands. The very reason you were able get out of bed, get into your automobile and come into this place today is a gift from Him. He is the King of all Kings and final authority is in His hands. One day, He will judge every person according their decisions and deeds and His judgments are final. He knows the end from the beginning because, even though our finite minds cannot conceive it, He Is at both the beginning and the end of all.

C. Recognize His Power

There is a divine attribute which better catch our attention, because, like it or not, all power and authority are in His hand. It is by His power that the universe is in order, by His will that the sun rises and falls, and by His mere thought that we are given another day of life. Should God so choose, the life of every person in this room could be ended before I’m through talking. His power is unfathomable.

Isn’t it interesting that we accept God as sending the flood in the Old Testament as punishment, but we want to reject that God has anything to do with the hurricanes? Or that God used a pagan king to incarcerate Israel but refuse to see His hand in the workings of terrorists today? I never ceased to be amazed at how we tend to weaken God or His resolve in our modern day view of His power.

D. Recognize His Passion

Here is where the water hits the road. While God is all powerful, it would seem that He uses every ounce of His power and energy to bring His crown creation into a loving relationship with Himself.

Think about it. In His power Mary became pregnant with Jesus, the Savior of the world. The very reason this was done was because God’s passion for us unleashed His power towards us that we might be saved.

In His passion, God allowed Jesus to die and be resurrected. He stopped at nothing for us! But we will only come to Him when we “Fear Him.”

III. How Does One Fear God?

May I offer us a personal opinion based on my reading of God’s word? My concern today is that, in our generation, we have so weakened what it means to follow and fear God that we may never get it back if we refuse to rethink “God.” To regain the “Fear of God” I suggest we need at least three things.

A. We Need An Accurate Concept Of God

The modern day view is almost a romantic view of God. That modern view holds that God so loves the world that He would not dare allow anything bad or hurtful to happen in this world or in our lives. What we miss is the fact that while He does love mankind, He so hates sin.

God kicked Adam and Even out of the Garden, sent a flood in Noah’s day, Fire and Brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jesus to a cross. An accurate view of God demands we admit His commitment to punish sin.

Just as surely as the Fear of God means an awesome respect and reverence for God, it also means a quaking or trembling with fear. When people came into God’s presence in the Bible, they never walked up and said, “Hello good buddy.” There were no high 5’s. They were on their faces crying, “I am unworthy, unclean, and undone.” This view of God will mandate that we admit we have sin in our lives which displeases Him.

B. We Need An Authentic Confession About God

We will never walk in the fear of God until we confess who He is, what He’s done, and what He can do. God is under no obligation to extend His grace. An obligatory nod from us recognizing that He is God is simply not enough. Scripture records that the demons will give God this type of acknowledgement but never bend their knee to Him as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We need to have the faith of Father in Mark 9 when He cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief.” An authentic confession acknowledges who God is and then submits to Him on His terms.

C. We Need An Acceptable Connection To God

We need an acceptable connection to God. There exists only one acceptable connection to God and that is through Jesus Christ, His Son. The Church, Baptism, Catechism, Confirmation, nor any other ritual, institution, or family heritage, can replace the connection found in Jesus. Salvation begins with the “Fear of the Lord.” The outgrowth of this fear is wisdom, understanding, and life.