“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”
– Acts 9:31
What a great picture of the church. The church is growing and multiplying, but listen to this descriptor: “Walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.” That is the kind of church I want to be a part of. I want to play a part in leading a church toward that end.
What Does It Mean to Fear God?
Walking in the fear of the Lord, this is the way God has designed His people, His church to walk; in the fear of Him. What does that mean, to fear Him? We know it doesn’t mean to be afraid of Him, His punishment toward our sin, when our sin has been paid for by Christ on the cross; that we don’t have to fear His wrath in that sense. At the same time, we do fear going back to our sin in a way that dishonors God, in a way that makes light of what Jesus has done on the cross.
There is a real fear; when I look in the Bible and I see Isaiah trembling before God, I see Ezra falling on his face before God in fear; I see all kinds of different pictures; even the disciples, when they realized who Jesus is and they’re afraid. With increasing knowledge of God and awareness of who he is, there’s an increasing fear that is in awe of Him. His holiness, greatness and majesty evokes fear in us.
The church ought to walk in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Spirit.
The Fear and Comfort of the Lord Seen in Acts 9:31
We’re intended to walk in the fear of Him, but then for that to be coupled with, walk in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, so that God comforts us in our fear by the presence of His Spirit within us; the Comforter Jesus promised to us, who comforts us, who, yes, convicts us of sin but then comforts us with the grace of Christ that covers over our sin, that comforts us when we walk through challenges and trials in this world, which obviously they were walking through in the church in that day.
Oh, may they both be true; may we in the church today have a healthy reverent fear of God, and may that fear of God be just coupled with the comfort that comes from His Holy Spirit in our lives.
A Prayer Based on Acts 9:31
Let’s pray. Oh God, help us to walk in fear of you today, help us to fear you in the way we’re called to fear you in your Word; to have an increasing knowledge of your greatness, Lord. Help us not to be trite before you, help us not to be casual before your greatness, and your glory, and your supremacy, and your justice, your holiness.
God, help us to have a healthy fear of you and to walk in it, and then at the same time, to walk in the comfort that comes from your Spirit. May these twin realities be true in your church, more and more and more today. Forgive us for being trite and casual before you in a way that isn’t characterized by this kind of fear. Help us to have this kind of fear in your church today of you. At the same time, help us to experience the comfort, joy, and peace that come from your Spirit. At the same time, fear of you, and comfort from your Spirit; may these things be true in your church today. In Jesus’ name, amen.