This does not mean that knowing Him in that salvation which is in Christ we now dare to sin against Him. Faith does not give us the courage to sin against our God, Whom we know is a consuming fire. Instead this fear of the Lord causes us to run to the cross to find refuge underneath it. The man who knows and believes the awfully destructive power of electricity and the perfect safety of the insulation on the wire does not, because he believes in the safety of that insulation, now dare to touch that bare wire. Neither does the child of God who knows this refuge and safety in Christ now dare to sin against the Holy One. In fact he appreciates this safety in Christ exactly because he knows this Holy One in His dread majesty. He is not afraid that this unchangeable God will go back on His promises, and that He will pluck out of Christ, the true Vine, that which He had engrafted into Him. But he is deathly afraid of walking apart from Christ. And that is what he does when he walks in sin.
Now through the ages there have been men who were not afraid to manufacture and teach doctrines that were designed to whittle this majestic God down and to rob Him of some of His glory. All false doctrine does that in one way or another and to one degree or another, as you know. And through the ages there have been those who accepted these evil teachings, defended them and boldly proclaimed them. And just prior to the appearance of the Standard Bearer such false doctrines were also accepted, defended and proclaimed in what is called the “Reformed Community.” Arminianism was there. Pelagianism, Modernism and Liberalism had their places. And a new and subtle form of Arminianism and Pelagianism appeared under the name, “Common Grace.” I say subtle, because it seems to be the fear of the Lord in that it also seemingly says, “O, God, how good Thou art!” And yet it is an attack upon God’s majesty, because it maintains an offer of salvation to all who hear the preaching of the gospel. And a God Who offers, invites and pleads with you to let Him save you is a God Who is bound to fail in some of His attempts instead of being sovereign in all His works; and He will be no longer an unchangeable God, but one Who will find Himself forced to change, over against that creature that He cannot persuade. You see, we have here the same lie of paradise only in a new form. Then Satan deceived man to believe that he could climb up to God’s position, and thus would not need to fear Him. In the heresy of Arminianism God is brought down to man’s level, and even below man to be begging this creature for the opportunity to show how great and good He is. And the fruits of that “common grace” today is a love of God for everyone head for head, and an atonement that is universal. These again result in a frustrated God who finds himself obliged to change from love to hatred and unable to accomplish that which he wills to do. These certainly whittle down the majesty and wear down the respect for such a God. These, although they say, as far as the sound of the words is concerned, “How good Thou art!” actually say, as far as the meaning is concerned, “O, God, Thou art not so great!”
But in His goodness God did raise up men in that period, when these heresies were conceived and born, who still saw Him in His majesty and loved Him therein as the Holy One. They organized the RFPA in order to publish pamphlets and booklets to hold forth the truth concerning this majestic God. And in process of time they decided to publish the Standard Bearer, that there might be a more regular and wider distribution of the truth of the greatness and goodness of our God. And in His fear our magazine had its birth. It was not published then to air the views of a man.
It was not published to add to the number of religious magazines, or so that we as churches might have an organ of our own. It was published to instruct others about this majesty of our God and to maintain and develop the truth of the true greatness and goodness of our God. And by God’s grace it still does that today with various departments or rubrics, each in its own sphere and way, showing the majesty of our God and declaring: “God ALL, man nothing except that which God was pleased to make him be. Soli Deo Gloria!”
II. Written In His Fear
Now through the ages since its birth that Standard Bearer has stood in need of men who would write in His fear. The RFPA is the Reformed Free Publishing Association. And a publishing association needs writings and writers whose works can be published. These may be writers of the past who wrote in His fear. But they must also be men who write about current problems and whose writings are relevant. A publishing association which has no writers with works worthy of publication is a publishing association that is out of business.
But a publication association that would publish in His fear and has a staff of writers that have not this fear of God, or will not write in it but for the exaltation of the flesh of man, finds itself in a tragic situation. And when it finds that its writers are beginning to write void of that fear of God it must dismiss them at once. A Reformed Free Publication Association must not sail under a false flag and publish that which is unreformed. The Reformed Faith is the faith that maintains this transcendent majesty of God; and the Reformed Faith has for its theme, “O, God, how great Thou art!” The Reformed Free Publication Association must therefore publish only that which is Reformed, and it must stay free from everything else (even though this is not the meaning of the word Free in the name). And it must free itself, rid itself of any writer who will write one word that detracts from this majesty of God.
The writers, therefore, also will have to be filled with that fear of the Lord to be impelled by it to write, in order to display this majesty of our God. They are, you know, a staff of fearless men, that is, fearless before men. They write faithfully and often voluminously, not because they are afraid of you, the association, or of you, the Board of the association. They are not even answerable to you. Let me point out to you the fact that you do not even appoint them, either as an association directly, or through your Board. Maybe that ought to be changed. I am not ready to say at the moment. Let me also point out to you that little line that is seldom read by those who begin to read either with the Meditation or (more likely) with the News from our Churches. I mean on the inside of the front page before the Meditation: “Editorial Policy: Every editor is solely responsible for the contents of his own article.” That gives him freedom, but also reveals that unless he has the fear of the Lord in his heart, he is not going to write that which the RFPA can publish.
Again, these writers have no fear either for the threats of the Editor-in-Chief that he will publish two blank sheets with the name of the editor of that department, if he fails to send in copy. They know that you, the association, through your Board will not allow such a waste of space, the cost of printing also being what it is today. Nor do they fear the staff that does appoint them each year. What is there to fear? Loss of a place on the editorial staff is no financial loss. Once again, although that is not the meaning of the name, “Reformed Free Publishing Association,” the work is done free of charge, without any salary or remuneration. In fact there would be gain to being put off the staff in a saving of paper, typewriter wear and tear, and postage.
Yet, they continue to write year in and year out, and often tear up a whole article and start over, or revamp the unsatisfactory copy, burn the midnight oil, give up social engagements, do research, and pound the typewriter at fifteen day intervals to produce copy for the Standard Bearer. Why? Because they are impelled by the fear of the Lord, and not because you or any man compels them. And only the fear of the Lord will keep them writing in His fear.
We must remember that. And we must remember that it all depends upon the grace of Him Whom we fear. For forty-six years the Standard Bearer has upheld the Reformed Faith and said on every page, “O, God, how great Thou art!” During that time magazines have come and gone. Magazines that were in existence before the birth of the Standard Bearer have filled their pages with man and his “majesty,” and presented a God who stoops before the creature and can be disappointed by him, a frustratable and a frustrated God! But we can also go that way; and we will go that way, unless the grace of God keeps us in His fear.
It behooves you and all the readers, therefore, to pray for these writers and not to assume that they cannot err, defect, or change. It is, you know, quite easy to criticize these writers as being too long-winded, too deep, not practical enough and the like. But, if you have not prayed for them, do not criticize them. If you have not brought them up to the throne of grace, do not bring them down to your judgment bar.
This is not a time to boast, and this speech is not meant to be in praise of men. For that is exactly contrary to the fear of the Lord which sees the majesty of God and man’s utter dependency upon Him for all things. The fear of the Lord says, “In Him we live and move and have all of our physical but also all of our spiritual being.” Therefore, pray to the God Whom we fear that He may keep the writers in His fear to provide the association with material worth publishing and the readers with that which truly is edifying.
III. Read in His Fear
We come now to you as a reader as well as a member of the association. And, truly, all efforts fail, if the Standard Bearer is not read in His fear. Perhaps, in passing, I might shorten that last sentence before I continue. All efforts fail, if the Standard Bearer is not read! It will give the RFPA some financial support, if you subscribe and do not read what it publishes. You may give the mailman some beneficial exercise by continuing your subscription. But unless you read what has been published, the association’s goal is not reached, the toil of the writers is in vain, and you yourself will receive no blessing from these efforts. To me it makes no difference whether you begin reading from the back page to the front page, or from the Meditation to the Church News. Interest in our churches is good and commendable, and in His fear will be there. But read, by all means read!
And then read in His fear. Read in order that you may learn to know this God in His majesty more fully and richly. If you approach the magazine to see who is being attacked this time, or to find out what is being condemned, you are not going to receive a blessing out of the reading. But if you read in order to meet this God in His majesty and to be filled with a loving reverence and awe before Him, you will go away saying, “O, God, how great and good Thou art!” You will go away ascribing all the glory to Him.
Reading it in His fear will also work within you the desire to have your children know this God as He truly is, and will move you to recommend the articles of the Standard Bearer to them. They read and study heavier material than this in high school. Begin early in their teens by giving them those articles which you are sure they can digest. And get them in the habit of reading the pages of the Standard Bearer. If ever there was a time when they needed to see the God of all majesty, it is now. Amid all the philosophies that are so subtle and numerous today, they need a standard bearer, something to which they can look and turn for guidance and instruction. They need the standard that bears the inscription: IN HIS FEAR.
Let me suggest then, in conclusion, that you have a set time for your reading. There are those widows, shut-ins, and retired individuals, who are home when the mailman delivers the Standard Bearer, and who tell me that they sit down and read it from cover to cover, and later on reread it. Now all do not have that time. There are also those who when they get home from work ask whether the Standard Bearer came, and if it did, sit down after the evening meal and read it through. If you can, by all means do so. But usually one is tired from the day’s toil and is not in the best condition for thoughtful reading. It is better, then, to set aside a period of the Sabbath to read slowly and thoughtfully that which you did not find time to read the day that it was delivered to your home.
Reading in His fear means reading it thoughtfully and carefully. It may take you only ten to fifteen minutes to read an article that took all day to plan, to conduct the necessary research, to outline and type out and proofread. And it certainly is true that “The husbandman that laboureth must be the first partaker of the fruits.” Therefore the writers obtain more benefit from their writings than the reader. Yet the reader will be partaker of the fruits in the measure that he reads thoughtfully and carefully.
And, by all means, reading in His fear means that the fear of the Lord rules us in our reading. This means that we will reject all that which in any way detracts from the transcendent glory of our God and attributes anything to man, regardless of who writes the article. We must not write in fear of men. We must not read either in fear of men but in the fear of the Lord. It is not in His fear to defend a man, a congregation, or a denomination that to any degree by its teachings brings our majestic God down the smallest step from His transcendent glory.
I do not advocate critical reading in the sense of being a fault-finder. But reading in His fear means that the reading public that know this God in His majesty of transcendency will also be on guard to keep the RFPA publishing that which ascribes all the glory to God and will point out any departure that may have been published. I repeat, if you do not bring them to the throne of grace, do not bring the writers, and the association, before the bar of your judgment. But if prayerfully you have approached the matter, and believe that you have found written and published that which is not in His fear, be sure first of all that your position ascribes all the glory to God, and then by all means take the steps to correct in His fear.
If we are walking in His fear and we wish to publish a magazine in His fear, we will welcome all advice and corrections from those who in His fear present them. For the fear of the Lord produces the fear of the Lord. And when you have a publishing association, writers and a reading public all living in His fear, you have a force that Satan fears; and a force that has no fear of Satan and his hosts; and a force that not only knows God in love, but which God knows in love.