Summary: A message about the need for the "Fear of God."
THE MISSING INGREDIENT
* 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 and today, 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. Let’s just 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.