The Conclusion of the Matter
There is a verse in the Bible that the Lord desires for us all to cherish: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The fear of the Lord is the reverential respect that we as submissive, obedient children of the Father give HIM. The more we read the Bible, the more we will understand and appreciate those who have gone before us, leading the way in their example of godly fear. Fearing the Lord meant everything to Abraham and there always was an altar experience before his Lord, even to the extent of his willingness to offer his son Isaac (Genesis 22:9). David thought God worthy of his worshipful heart when he “was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1). The Lord was first place in Nehemiah’s life when he put his own interests on hold when the walls of Jerusalem needed to be rebuilt (Nehemiah 2:13). God’s place of worship meant everything to Haggai when “thus saith the LORD of hosts, consider YOUR ways” when “this (HIS) house lie waste” (Haggai 1:4, 7). The Apostle Paul tells us that those Old Testament accounts “are written for our admonition” and are “ensamples” to us (I Corinthians 10:11). He goes on to say in that very same context, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (v. 14). What a wake-up call to the church of the LIVING GOD! Getting back to “the whole conclusion of the matter” (Ecclesiastes 12:13), and the fear of the Lord, we must realize that it all comes down to the question “who am I serving?”
When it comes to the examples of Biblical, godly respect for God, the churches of Judaea and Galilee were “walking in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). The fear of God will always bring believers to be faithful to God and to each other in fellowship; they will listen and obey God’s Word JOYFULLY. That’s not all, when they loved God enough to fear him, they were “edified” and God gave them the “comfort of the Holy Ghost” (and) “were multiplied” (v. 31). Because of the fear of the Lord there was joy, praise, peace, and spiritual bonding in the fellowship of the churches. The churches grew numerically as they grew spiritually; that’s the pattern. That was a sure, far cry from the spiritual adultery against God found written in the Epistle of James. The warning: “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4). There were “Christians” who were living outside the fear of the Lord. There was root problem, namely “even of your lusts that war in your members” (v. 1); their sin nature was in control and then got out of control. God could not bless the crowd that James was addressing, because their lifestyles associated with fleshly thinking were a spiritual affront against God. “Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, the Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy” (v. 5). God has a plan for the church, and has designed an individual purpose for each believer in the body of Christ. That purposeful plan of God is fulfilled as believers live in godly fear. Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18), and unfortunately, there is an absence of the fear of the Lord concerning precedence to the house of God in Christianity today. That apathy will bring a deafening silence to the voice of the Spirit of the Living God, and the deadness will evidence itself in a “no show” of Acts 9:31. Charles Spurgeon comments on those worldly desires found in some “Christians,” all the while dismissing a loving and joyful walk in godly fear. When “ye lust and have not” (James 4:2), you “do not in many cases obtain what you seek. A person longs to be happy, but he is not. He aspires after what he thinks will content him, but is still unsatisfied. One way or another his life is a disappointment. How can it be otherwise? If the person’s desires are the longings of fallen nature, if they begin and end with self, if the chief end for which one lives is not to glorify God but to glorify self, then one can desire but will not have.” So, in retrospect, let’s all hear once again the conclusion of the whole matter, “Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). So, is the matter now settled, and concluded or is the “war in your members” still your fancy? Dear child of God, just fear HIM and when you do, there will be rest, edification, joy, praise, godly fellowship, all from the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, and we all will be growing in grace with the prospect of our number being “multiplied” (Acts 9:31). “And IF ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (1 Peter 1:17).