Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Fear of the Lord.

If indeed the tide is turning in our land and the promises are true that God may revisit us again in reviving power, then one vital aspect that the Bible seems to address a lot is the fear of the Lord, which is sometimes quite sadly lacking. Dr Ern Baxter addressed this in his outstanding book, "God's Agenda". Here is what he had to say on it;

"Spiritual gifts are not for sanctification; they're for ministry. You can manifest spiritual gifts and be carnal. You can manifest spiritual gifts and be immoral (The house of God has been stained and slandered because this very thing has happened on national television in front of millions of unbelievers!). God has begun to talk to me again about the fear of the Lord. Once you've experienced the fear of the Lord, you'll never be the same again; it is not just an intellectual attitude.

One time in Minneapolis, I was scheduled to teach a group of 65 ministers in a seminar and then preach that night in a church. I was sick and I knew I had an infection (later I learned it was bronchial pneumonia). I was scheduled to catch a plane the following afternoon and I really felt weak. That night I began to speak from the thirteenth chapter of Acts about the blinding of Barjesus the sorcerer and the day Paul and the apostles publicly turned away from the defiant Jews to the Gentiles.

As I began to speak, I sensed that the fear of the Lord was in the meeting. I noticed that my voice, which had been weak from the sickness, took on a different timbre. I also noticed that my spirit was chastened. I realised that I felt genuine fear lest I do or say something wrong. At the end of the meeting many people in the place were bathed in tears. I was deeply concious of the Presence of God. People hurried up to greet me in tears. After the hosts took Ruth and me to our room, we didn't say anything to each other for I don't know how long. At last I told Ruth, "I'm almost afraid to break the silence. I'm so concious of the Presence of God that I am wholesomely frightened".

My friend, the fear of God is somehow missing from our lives or we wouldn't do some of the things we do. I remember the time when in South Africa when William Branham and I were being persecuted by the Dutch Reformed Church. They were giving us a lot of trouble. One night in particular we were under much pressure and opposition. As we prepared to minister before the huge crowds, William Branham and I were kneeling in prayer when suddenly a frightening presence came into the room. Brother Branham quietly said, "Brother Baxter don't be afraid. The angel of God is in the room". From that moment on I understood why people were afraid when an angel appeared in the Bible. I almost said to myself, "Well he can leave anytime". I tell you, I didn't so much as raise my head to him.

One night in Kansas City (1975), I was with 1, 700 men in a large auditorium when the Presence of God came into the place. As we were standing there and worshipping God, the Word of the Lord came, "Take off your shoes!". All of us 1, 700 obediently and quickly took off our shoes and prostrated ourselves. One brother, a close friend of mine named Eric, was out in the aisle with his hands raised. He came to me and said, "Ern while I was worshipping, somebody brushed my arm and words of prophecy came out of my mouth just like this". I told him, "It was an angel". There was a fear of God in that meeting that no one who was there will ever forget. That was about 20 years ago. But to this day, whenever I meet men who were there, they still remember ...

We need to recover our reverent fear of GOd. A few years ago, a good friend of mine who has served at the right hand of Billy Graham was having dinner with me in Arizona. I asked him about Billy's spiritual life and he said, "I can only tell you this; when Billy was going to Los Angeles for the meeting where he broke into national prominence, he stopped somewhere in the desert. He had an old beat up car and he was just a Youth-for-Christ kid. Billy got out of that car and knelt down there in the desert". My friend said, "I don't know how long he was there and I don't know what happened, but when Billy got up, he has, from that day run scared".

When you have stood in the Presence of the fear of God, you don't play games. The judgement of God is resting upon many of God's servants. I'm not saying this in a condemning way; I have also felt the hand of His chastisment. It comes to each of us when we refuse to walk in the fear of God. I prophesy that things will happen in this decade that will restore the fear of God. When these things come to pass, a lot of us who are playing religious games will change our ways or pay a price.

Acts 19:23 is short but it carries an important message for you and I: "And the same time there arose no small stir about that way". Please hear what I'm saying. Is anybody persecuting you? Are you enduring any great persecution? Are you languishing in jail? Are you having to flee for your life? When this biblical pattern is followed, you will have the same results as Paul. You cannot function in apostolic power without confronting society and having it rise up to stop you! The power of the gospel will change the human ethic. You may not convert everybody but remember that when Charles Finney was finished in a town they would close the taverns and the prostitutes would leave. Why? The Christian content of the message was so powerful that society became confronted with its sin. In it's revolt against the truth, the kingdom of darkness was defeated and had to leave.

I'm not talking about pidly little events taking place. I'm declaring that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). I'm talking about God taking back the earth and giving our lost inheritance back to us. I'm talking about the last Adam cancelling the first Adam. The bottom line is that we need to "get off our duffs" and leave our Christian ghetto games. It is time for us to find one another and bind together in a community of divine authority".


Anonymous said...

A forgotten aspect to the glory of God that we absolutely MUST retrieve. Or I think there will be some absolutely terrified faces if God does come in revival.

I am so grateful to Ern Baxter's prophetic gifting for reminding us of this yet again.

Dr S A J Burgess

SJ said...

Could I be controversial and suggest that it is the fault of many charismatics to emphasise the love and intimacy of the Lord to the ignorance of the fear of the Lord!?

Baxter's Boy said...

I think that Dr Storms would suggest that you are indeed right. I don't have any problem admitting that! But really the question is, is overfamiliarity with God any worse than hardness of heart and academic obession? I'm not sure whether the Bible would differentiate between the two errors. Sam Storms certainly doesn't seem to.

Surely the challenge to charismatics is to grasp and learn something of the fear of the Lord from the Bible, from church histories of revivals. And the challenge to both charismatics and cessationists alike who find it harder to plug into intimacy and freedom with God by the Spirit is to grasp just the same from the Spirit and the Word?