A couple of weeks ago, I started up a series on gospel-centered renewal, and I want to continue thinking through spiritual renewal that is gospel-nourished. One of the things that has struck me of late is how the Scripture connects “the fear of the Lord” to metaphors or direct references to life, sustenance, and satisfaction.
Before I do, I want state by way of premise that I believe the “fear of the Lord” is the outworking of the gospel as stated in the new covenant promise (Psalm 130:4; Jer. 32:39-40). Apart from the gospel’s work in a believer, it is impossible to know the fear of the Lord and thus impossible to experience the realities depicted in the verses below.
Fear of the Lord Leads to Life
The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
Fear of the Lord Prolongs Life
The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.
Fear of the Lord a Fountain of Life
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.
Fear of the Lord an Honorable Life
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.
Fear of the Lord a Satisfied Life
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
The common thread in all these verses is the fear of the Lord producing and sustaining a rich, vibrant, abundant life that lives in the good of the gospel. When you work out your salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), you will know that the very manner in which you do that (fear) will become a ever-increasing means (fountain of life). This is because it is God who is at work in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
The source of fear is God’s work in you, and operating on the basis of that holy fear produces continual renewal for the kind of abundant life Scripture speaks so vividly about. The fear of God is a fountain of life because God is both the source of our fear and our life in Christ Jesus. When you are standing in the gospel of grace, you are standing under the waterfall of God’s promise to put holy fear in you, and the delight you take in that waterfall serves as the means of enjoyment and renewal in the Christian life.