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Fear of God --- Its meaning

   The term "fear of God".  It is often used in the Bible.  What 
   does it mean?  I would say it has the following meaning:  A man 
   who fears God is a man who takes God seriously; who takes his 
   words and commandments seriously; who listens to what he has to 
   say with seriousness and respect.  He is a man who believes 
   God's commandments are supposed to be kept and that breaking 
   them is dangerous.  He is a man who is afraid to go against 
   God, afraid to disobey him, afraid to disregard any of his 
   commandments or take them lightly.  He is a man who is afraid 
   of God in this sense.  It is all like a young boy who has a 
   righteous, good father for whom he has the greatest respect.  
   The father demands obedience and the boy is afraid to disobey.  
   The boy knows that his father expects to be taken seriously.   
   And he is afraid not to do so.  Thus he fears his father in 
   this sense.  However, although he fears his father, he also 
   loves him.  He knows that his father is righteous, just, and 
   good and that what his father says is true and for his own 
   benefit.  He knows that although his father requires respect 
   and obedience his father loves him; and, indeed, it is just 
   because his father does love him so much that he requires this 
   respect and obedience.  

   Thus we see that fear does not prevent love.  Because we fear 
   God, that doesn't mean we can't love him.  In fact, the respect 
   for God and reverence for his commandments that constitutes our 
   fear of him are the very basis for our love.  Respect must come 
   before love.  We love him for his goodness, for what he is, we 
   love him because we can respect him.  We love him because we 
   love Goodness and Righteousness. 

   Note this too:  The man who fears God also "believes" in him; 
   he also "has faith"; and he also obeys and follows his 
   commandments.   So is the man who fears God saved by virtue of 
   his belief?  Or by virtue of his faith?  Or by virtue of his 
   works (i.e. by virtue of his righteousness, goodness, etc.)?  
   It is a useless, academic, sophistical question from a 
   practical standpoint.  In one place the Bible says one is saved 
   by belief, in another that he is saved by faith, and in another 
   that he is saved "by doing the will of the Father".  So by 
   which of these is he saved?  Why worry about it?  Why not just 
   believe and do and forget it?  Yet it is the question that has 
   produced great division, strife, anger, and prejudice for 
   centuries among denominations and religious people. 

   Nov 1977

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