Rev. George R. Dillahunty
685 Grant Avenue
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452-3047

August 27, 2009

Text: Acts 9:31 (King James Version)

"Then had the churches rest through all of Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."

Topic: Just A Closer Walk!

In our Holy Scripture text, for today, we find the Disciple/Apostle Luke - the Gentile physician - writing about the early church! Notice, if you will, that they "were walking in the fear of the Lord!" The Apostle Paul, in writing to the church at Philippi, in Philippians 3:12 (KJV), tells them and us: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own Salvation with fear and trembling."

The concept of "fear and trembling" in connection with Almighty God is not a popular concept in todayís society! People prefer to hear about Almighty Godís love - His longsuffering - and, His mercy! Some people, when we point out Almighty Godís righteous indignation, holiness, and justice, reply, "My God is not like that!" The emphasis, in todayís community of faith, on Almighty Godís love and mercy is more than likely a reaction to the "hell, fire, and brimstone" preaching of another generation!

But tell me, my brothers and sisters, "Could it be that we have gone to the other extreme - where there is no "fear and trembling" as it relates to the Christian true believer?" Could this be why many Christian true believers are apathetic in their service to the Lord! Could it be that we have forgotten Whom we should fear if we are negligent in our service? The Disciple/Apostle Matthew, in Matthew 10:28 (KJV), records Jesus, the Christ, saying, "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."

This morning, my brothers and sisters, the Lord would have us examine what the "fear of the Lord" is - why it is important to the Christian true believer - and, how we can develop a healthy "fear of the Lord" without going from one extreme to the other!

In the Hebrew, the word "fear" is "Yir-ah," and is used in the Old Testament to describe fear, terror, an awesome or terrifying thing (an object causing fear), the fear of God, respect, reverence; and, piety! In the Greek, the word for fear is "Phobos," and is used in the New Testament to describe fear, dread, terror, and, that which strikes terror."

In connection with the "fear of the Lord," it is often defined as "reverence" or "awe" - which is fine as far as it goes! However, I wonder if this definition truly goes far enough? For, although the terms "reverence" and "awe" imply a place for "trembling," do most people make the connection?

The fear of the Lord should include a place for "trembling" - even as the Apostle Paul indicated when he wrote to the Phillipians combining the words