Friday, September 29, 2023

The Conclusion of the Matter (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

"Fear God and keep His commandments" (Eccl. 12:13).

“Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments.” After all the searching under the sun, after all the pondering of vanity, death, and life’s emptiness, the Preacher comes to a life-changing conclusion: Fear God and keep His commandments. Bridges explains why these two elements are in their proper order: “The fear of God is the hidden principle of obedience—not of nature’s growth. It is the work of the Spirit in the heart of the regenerate. It is the covenant promise, securing the faithfulness of the children of God (Jer. 32:40). It is not a legal principle of terror or bondage, but the genuine spirit of confidence—the delicate expression of filial love in the heart of the child of God—the holy fruit of forgiveness. Here we walk with our Father, humbly, acceptably, securely—looking at an offended God with terror—but at a reconciled God with reverential love. All the gracious influences on the soul—cherished under the power of the Spirit—all flow out in godly fear towards Him.”

The fruit of those that fear God is obedience. If you are not obedient, you do not fear God. Here is the crux of the covenant promise: If you do not fear God, then you are not one of His covenant children. “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands” (Ps. 112:1). The inner change of heart produces the outward manifestation of obedience. Jesus Himself said, “A good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears only bad fruit.” If you have been changed at the root, you will produce works of obedience.

The Preacher is not proposing a works salvation here. It is assumed from the rest of Scripture that only those who have been changed by the Spirit of God have the ability to “fear God and keep His commandments.” Bishop Reynolds wisely wrote, “By faith in God the heart is purified to fear and love God; and by that fear and love it is inclined to obey His commands” (1 John 3:23).

Here is our portion forever, the center of our rest. The more we labor to understand what it means to tear God and to obey His commands in pure Gospel truth, the more we will be grounded on the rock of Christ and saved from the vanity of this world.

At the end of the day ask yourself whether your number one priority in everything you thought, said, and did was to show reverence to God and to obey His commands. What were your first concerns during the day—were they to live in such a way that would honor God or did you pander to your own desires?