Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The awe of God

Psalm 33:8 says 'Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him'. This verse gives us a principle which ought to govern every aspect of our lives; namely that we should be in awe of God; having that feeling of fearful wonder coupled with adoration. The Collins English Dictionary gives two definitions of awe; Firstly that of it being 'overwhelming wonder, admiration, respect, or dread' and secondly that it is 'power to inspire fear or reverence'. These definitions do go some way to explaining how we ought to be in awe of God, and the effect that awe should have upon us. So much of the awe of God has been lost in today's church, and one reason for this must surely be that we do not have the right understanding of the person and nature of God.

C.H. Spurgeon said that 'It is not possible that mortal men should be thoroughly conscious of the divine presence without being filled with awe'. The majesty of God is such, that as we understand more about God, and walk closer with him that we cannot but be filled with awe at the glory of God. The reason for our lack of awe is that we have such a small view of God, but 'Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised'.

We ought to be awe of God because he is holy. Indeed not simply that his holiness is an attribute which we can attach to him, but that he is holiness itself. When we measure holiness, we measure it against Jehovah, for as we increase in holiness it is simply a case of our becoming more like Christ. Yet in God almighty is perfect holiness. His holiness is such that he could not look upon his own Son when our sins were laid upon him. What awe we must have of one who is perfectly pure and holy, yet who has condescended to redeem sinful man.

The omnipotence of God ought to fill us with awe. People in positions of authority and power often have the ability to inspire awe in those around them; kings and queens, powerful politicians fill their people with awe. The power which they have brings with it a sense of awe. What then of the one who created the world by speaking it into existence, who upholds the whole of the universe, and yet in doing so does not diminish in power. A universe the very extent of which our human minds cannot fathom, yet he simply 'made the stars also'.

Above all we ought to be filled with awe at the love of God. Out of the billions of humanity God chose to redeem you. Not for any potential of good in you, but unconditionally. There was no need felt within the Godhead to redeem a fallen race, yet out of love he chose to send his Son to die as a sacrifice on Calvary's tree. 'Herein is love, not that we love God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins'. Even the most well known words of John 3:16 can only but fill us with awe each time we consider them.

What effect will that sense of awe have upon our lives? It will in truth affect us in every way. It will affect how we conduct ourselves in church; worship will not be approached in a casual manner, but with reverence. It will affect our evangelism; knowing that God is all powerful will give us an assurance that with him all things are possible. It will inspire a greater desire to know God, to study his word and develop a deeper understanding of the great truths of the gospel. When we live in the awe of God all superficiality will be gone from our lives, we will have a greater mourning after our own sin, yet a greater rejoicing in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. Are we in awe of God? Have we really grasped who God is? May the fear of God be evident in our lives and may we live in daily wonder and admiration of him.

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