The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom.
— Psalm 111:10
The fear of God is also the beginning of any true revival, hence why we have made it the first step of the Personal Revival Plan. God cannot revive us until He is so great to us that our whole life revolves around serving Him, and we are thus so careful with His Law that we will not break it, even in the smallest detail, so that we do not displease such a holy God.
What Is the Fear of God?
The graces of Christ’s spirit must be cherished and revealed by the sons and daughters of God. By their humility, their penitence, their desire to be like Jesus [the Messiah], to be conformed to His will by practicing His lessons in their daily life, they honor Him. Their constant fear of God is a fear to disobey or disregard one injunction. They hope in God, and commit the keeping of their souls to Him, as unto a faithful Creator. “Thus saith the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” The cry of the broken heart is as music in His ears, because He can restore and heal.
— E.G. White, Manuscript 39, 1896
The message of fearing God is the first angel’s message. Sadly, most of Seventh-day Adventism has forgotten it, with ideas about theories and doctrines taking precedence, so that people glory in their head knowledge instead of glorying in knowing God (Jer. 9:24), which is based on a fear of His glory so that our own glory is laid in the dust—”fear God and give glory to Him … and worship Him…” (Rev. 14:7). The third angel’s message, along with the 1888 message falling under it, can no longer be present truth until we have first embraced the first message, which calls us to a fear and worship of God. Without this fear, we can never “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jehoshua” (Rev. 14:12). We cannot have any true relationship with God unless we appreciate and respect His greatness and authority; only then can we appreciate salvation from sin, seeing how much sin offends Him. God is saying to us today, “Where is My fear?” (Malachi 1:6).
Further Statements from the Spirit of Prophecy
The Fear of God Results in Obedience
By the first angel, men are called upon to “fear God, and give glory to Him” and to worship Him as the Creator of the heavens and the earth. In order to do this, they must obey His law. Says the wise man: “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13. Without obedience to His commandments no worship can be pleasing to God. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” 1 John 5:3; Proverbs 28:9.
— E.G. White, Great Controversy, p. 436
Proclaim the Message with a Loud Voice
“Fear God and give glory to him” is the burden of our message “for the hour of his judgment is come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Proclaim it with a loud voice, not in silent whispers, not in suggestions now and then, but let it ring through our churches. Ministers and people professing to keep the commandments of God must awaken, and they themselves testify as witnesses for God, so that in dress and in outward adorning there shall be a change, and women will clothe themselves as Christians, <with modest apparel,> that the line of demarkation may be distinguished between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.
— E.G. White, Manuscript 146, 1897
Love Does Not Cancel the Fear of God
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.”
The Lord would have his people trust in him and abide in his love, but that does not mean that we shall have no fear or misgivings. Some seem to think that if a man has a wholesome fear of the judgments of God, it is a proof that he is destitute of faith; but this is not so. A proper fear of God, in believing his threatenings, works the peaceable fruits of righteousness, by causing the trembling soul to flee to Jesus. Many ought to have this spirit today, and turn to the Lord with humble contrition, for the Lord has not given so many terrible threatenings, pronounced so severe judgments in his word, simply to have them recorded, but he means what he says. One says, “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.” Paul says, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”
— E.G. White, Review and Herald, 10/21/1890
The fear of God will lead us to abandon all sin. Our entire perspective of Christianity will change. We will no longer view it as a cheap and easy religion, as it is popularly styled. The Bible religion of Christianity is restrictive, laborious, and all-encompassing, yet it is the most liberating, joyous, and peaceful.
The Fear of God in the Scriptures
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure.
— Philippians 2:12-13
Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad the way, that leadeth to the destruction, and many are they who enter in through it: how narrow is the gate and restricted the way that leadeth to the life, and few are they who find it.
— Matthew 7:13-14
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
— Luke 13:24
And now, Israel, what doth Jehovah thy God require of thee, but to fear Jehovah thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve Jehovah thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of Jehovah, and His statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
— Deuteronomy 10:12-13
Again, a fear of God is to be the foundational beginning of our experience of knowing God in a loving relationship. We are to fear Him to the point of walking in all His ways of righteousness.
The one motive driving all of our daily activities is to please Him in every detail. This is true love, and only then can we truly love each other.
The Fear of God is the Foundation of Revival
There has been much talk about revival and reformation over the years but we must remember what the revival consists of:
A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord, not because God is not willing to bestow his blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it. Our Heavenly Father is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him, than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. But it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us His blessing. A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer.
— E.G. White, Review and Herald, March 22, 1887
The Revival Is Promised
Notwithstanding the widespread declension of faith and piety, there are true followers of Christ in these churches. Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord’s second coming.
— E.G. White, Great Controversy, p. 464
This quote is taken from the chapter (27) covering revivals. And in the previous quote, Ellen White used the generic word “revival” after describing “a revival of true godliness.” Thus, the revival (which many churches sense the need of) that we actually need is a revival of true and primitive godliness; and it will be accompanied with the Spirit and power of God being poured out to those who have this reviving condition.
What Is Godliness?
Godliness (etymologically incorrect) means piety (which is what we prefer to use), which is true to the meaning of the Greek word ‘eusebes’ (translated in the Bible to ‘Godliness’ or ‘pious’); and biblical piety means dutifulness (filled with a sense of duty) toward God, inspired by adoration.
This inevitably leads to repentance, which is critical to a true revival. We must return to God from our sins, then He will return to us. This all takes “earnest effort,” but as we have read, Bible religion requires it. Very few are willing to dedicate every moment of their lives to God, but He has required it, and for our good.
Nothing is more fulfilling in life than pleasing Him. Fear of everything else goes away, because, living for Him, nothing can harm us. Even if we become ill or die, we have eternal life, which is knowing Him. Joy will fill us, and people will want what we have. The revival plan we share here, along with the reformation principles we share in connection with this—both based on the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy—will bring in many practical ways on how we can strengthen a pious fear of God so that we can truly love Him will all we have.
Further Reading on the Fear of God
In closing, please read the following three articles that continue the theme of fearing God.
The first one deserves a bit of an introduction. It is a compilation of quotes on our continually sacrificing Saviour. This brings the fear of God to a whole new level, for the worst part of sin is what it has done to His only-begotten Son, who must bear all of our guilt and shame every time we sin, both in the past and present. We are to fear to displease God, but in doing so we should come to think more of Him than ourselves and our own destiny. God is more hurt in the suffering of His Son than if He had personally borne our guilt, for He loves His Son more than we could ever realize. Realizing the pain that sin thus brings Him through His Son’s having to face the horror hell for our every sin should become a motivation of our fear of Him as well as of true repentance, covered in the next article.
The second article pertains to sin in relation to proper repentance, based on the awful fear inspired by understanding the continual sacrificing of our Saviour. We must learn to never take sin lightly, and if we are not truly repenting after we have sinned, we cannot have true revival.
The third article is not ours, but beautifully portrays our Father, or Abba, to whom we pray. He is not whom popular Christianity has portrayed Him to be. It is important to know what His title actually means that we may have a proper fear of Him. (Please note that we can only recommend this one article from that website.)