How Blessed Is the Man Who Fears the Lord
About the Guest
Dr. Tony Evans shares about living with God's Kingdom in your personal life, your family life, your church life, and your community life.
Tony EvansDr. Tony Evans is one of the country’s most respected leaders in evangelical circles. As a pastor, teacher, author and speaker, he serves the body of Christ through his unique ability to communicate complex theological truths through simple, yet profound, illustrations. While addressing the practical issues of today, Dr. Evans is known as a relevant expositor. New and veteran pastors alike regard him as a pastor of pastors and a father in the faith. The first African-American to graduate w...more
Dr. Tony Evans shares about living with God’s Kingdom in your personal life, your family life, your church life, and your community life.
How Blessed Is the Man Who Fears the Lord
Bob: What’s involved in being kingdom-minded? Here’s Dr. Tony Evans.
Tony: You know, in my research and study, I’ve discovered that God has broken down His kingdom into four categories: your personal life, your family life, your church life, and your societal, governmental, or community life. And the kingdom is simply your ability to relate those four areas to one another and all four to God—that makes you a kingdom person.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, February 12th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear today from Dr. Tony Evans about the impact we can have, as Christians, in our community. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.
Dennis: You’re going to hear it first, here on FamilyLife Today—
—that God is not on sale at Wal-Mart®. [Laughter] You know, I want you to listen to this message because Dr. Tony Evans—who is, not only a great friend, but also a terrific preacher—is going to bring it.
Bob: This is a pretty good week! You stop and think about it—Alistair Begg, John Piper, and Tony Evans.
Dennis: There you go!
Bob: That’s pretty stout!
Dennis: Nothing is wrong with that.
Bob: We have brought the goods this week on FamilyLife Today.
Dennis: If you want to know the truth about life, you’re about to hear it because this is going to apply to your life, your family life, your church life, and your life in the midst of the culture. This is the way to live life, and Tony Evans will explain how.
Bob: This is, again, a classic message from Tony Evans—a message that we first aired on FamilyLife Today 15 years ago. We thought, “This is one that deserves to be heard again.” So, we’re going to take a trip to Wal-Mart with Tony Evans and find out why God is not on sale there.
[Previously Recorded Message]
Tony: Some time ago, my wife asked me to go to Wal-Mart to pick up some things for her. Now, you must understand—this is not one of my favorite things to do; but being the godly husband that I am, I concurred and got the list from her as to her expectations. Not wanting to go to Wal-Mart any time of the day, I decided that I would go earliest in the morning in order to get in and get out. But on this particular occasion, when I arrived, I discovered that Wal-Mart was having a store-wide sale. People had shown up to get their goods at reduced prices, and they had shown up in droves.
It dawned on me, as I stood in line:
“You know, that’s what’s wrong today. We’ve got God on discount—if we reduce our message, and limit our commitment to truth, and if we lower the standard low enough—they’ll show up because everybody likes a sale, even a God sale. But you give me a high and holy God—whose standards do not change / who is the same yesterday, today, and forever—‘Well, I might have to debate whether I want to shop at that store.’”
This is not only true of a secular godless society. It’s, also, true of an evangelical church; unfortunately, sometimes, it’s even true of me. As I’ve thought about this discount god that we’ve become comfortable serving—the adjustable god—
—it also dawned on me that, perhaps, we are somewhat problematic in our worldview, as evangelicals / as Christians. Perhaps, a myopic perspective has dominated us so that we really don’t fully see what God’s plan is in history, which is why we are so comfortable with discounts, even with Him.
If I were to sum up what I believe the Bible teaches about what you and I are to be about—the sine qua non—the irreducible minimum that ought to govern who we are as a community of saints—it is simply the word, “kingdom.” Kingdom is an interesting word—we all use it. In order to have a kingdom, of course, you must have a king / you’ve got to have a ruler. We don’t debate that God is that ruler. In order to have a kingdom, you must, not only have a ruler, you’ve got to have some rulees—
—you’ve got to have some people over whom the king rules—and that is those of us who claim Him, who know Him, who yield to Him.
Not only in a kingdom must you have a ruler and rulees, you’ve got to have a realm over which the king rules. “The earth is the Lord’s, the fullness, thereof, the world and all they that dwell in it [Psalm 24:1].” So, it’s a fairly comprehensive scope to this kingdom.
And in order to have a kingdom, you must have a ruler, rulees, a realm, and some very clear regulations so that the rulees, living in the king’s realm, know the expectation of the ruler from the regulations that he has prescribed. When you have a ruler, with rulees, governing a realm with very clear expectations and regulations—what you have is a kingdom. The kingdom is simply described in Scripture as the comprehensive rule of God over all of His creation.
I think part of the problem why we have so discounted God is that we have so limited God to who we are and the ministry we have been called to fulfill, that oftentimes, we miss the kingdom. It is clear, sometimes, we miss it because it’s so often that Christians cannot relate to one another across racial lines, or class lines, or cultural lines, or denominational lines. It’s often very clear that we miss the kingdom because we miss the broad scope of what His purposes are in history.
That caused me to think: “What is the order of the kingdom? How does this King in this kingdom rule His affairs in history?” Through my research and study, I discovered that God has broken down His kingdom into four categories—and in fact, only four: your personal life, your family life, your church life, and your societal, governmental, or community life.
The kingdom is simply your ability to relate those four areas to one another and all four to God—that makes you a kingdom person.
Now, this is a study that could take hours upon end. I would simply like to reduce it to Psalm 128, which lays out, in a very succinct summary fashion, everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the kingdom but were afraid to ask. He says: “How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord and who walks in His ways. You shall eat of the fruit of your hands. You will be happy, and it will go well with you.”
He starts off by addressing your personal life. He says that, if you are going to be a kingdom person, it always begins with the kingdom within—he calls it the fear of God.
That’s an interesting Old Testament word—it really combines two concepts. On one side, to fear God meant to dread Him for He was so high, and holy, and just; but then, on the flip side of that coin, it was to awe Him—or hold Him in high reverence. When you mix together the dread of God with the awe of God, it simply comes out to mean: “Blessed is he who takes God seriously.” If the man wants to function in this kingdom, he’s got to take the King very seriously: “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord.” There is always one test as to whether you fear God. It says, “You walk in His ways.” The fear of God is not ultimately measured in the feeling—it’s always measured in the feet. If there is no adjustment in the feet, there is no fear in the heart—
—regardless of how inspired you may feel at any given moment.
“Blessed is everyone who fears God,” because you always see them shifting the way they walk. Well, what he is simply saying is: “If you are serious about this kingdom, then, God must be the sun of your life’s solar system, where the planets of your activity revolve around Him. You do not request that He revolves around you.”
Then, he moves to the second aspect of the kingdom—the family. He says, after the individual fears God: “Your wife shall be like the fruitful vine within your house. Your children will be like olive plants around your table.” He goes from the individual—not to the church, not to what’s happening on the job, not to what’s happening in the politics of the world, or why we ought to be concerned about what’s happening at the White House—
—we need to make sure we are having sufficient concern for what’s happening at our house. He says, “If you want to see whether somebody fears God and is in the kingdom, go to their homes.”
We live in a day when all of us are concerned about the breakdown of the family—as we should be—but the primary reason for the breakdown of the family is that the family does not understand the kingdom. We have reduced keeping the family together to a social structure, and that’s not why the family was created. That’s not—that’s a byproduct. God told Himself, in the triune meeting in the counsels above, that: “’We will make man in Our own image…male and female We will make them [Genesis 1:26].’” “’And what We’ll do is place them in history. We will give them something We will give no one else; and that is, We will stamp them with the image of God [paraphrase of Genesis 1:27].’”
The reason God created family was so that there could be the replication of the image of God in history—that’s why the family exists. The family exists, not so that you can live happily ever after—although that’s a great byproduct / the family does not exist simply so that you go home to have company—that’s a great byproduct. The family exists so that the image of God can be spread throughout history.
God is so much in love with Himself that He wants to spread Himself everywhere He can find Himself, and He finds Himself everywhere. So that, when you and I have children—if one of them goes to live in Florida—and you want to know what God looks like in Florida, you can check out where those kids live because the mark of God has been transferred to Florida because the image of God has been stamped through the context of family.
If one goes to live in New York, and you want to see what God looks like in Manhattan, you can go to where those kids live because those families that raised those kids understand that the only reason God gave us those kids was so that we could stamp the mark of God on them so that God would be transferred when they started their own family. If one goes out to Seattle, the same thing. And if one goes to L.A., the same thing.
You see, Satan has put the stamp of his character on his kids. God wants the stamp of His character on our kids so that the kingdom of God expands. That’s the reason for families. [Applause] You see, Plato wasn’t right about much. He was right about this: “As goes the family,” he said, “that’s the mark of a society.”
Adam and Eve rebelled against God. Next thing you know, Cain kills Abel. By the time you get to Genesis, Chapter 6, the world is good for nothing except to be destroyed. When Paul discusses the family, he doesn’t want to discuss social issues. He wants to discuss theology: “A husband ought to love his wife like Christ loved the church.” How did Christ love the church?—to death. So, if you’re still alive, you’re not finished yet. [Applause]
A guy said to me, “My wife is crucifying me!” I said to him, “Well, you said you wanted to be like Jesus; didn’t you?” [Laughter]
A man sanctifies his wife like Christ sanctifies the church. How long does it take Christ to sanctify us?—a lifetime—and He eternally secures us. We never have to worry about a divorce, and we make Him unhappy regularly.
It says, “This kingdom woman is within the house.” That doesn’t mean she doesn’t use her gifts and skills. It means she’s so kingdom-oriented, though, she never does anything outside that compromises the priority of inside. It says, “Your children will be like olive plants around your table,”—not olive trees. It takes 15 years for an olive plant to become an olive tree; but if you nurture it right, it’ll produce olives for 2,000 more years. If you’ve ever been to Israel, you’ve seen the 2,000-year-old olive trees. Olives are used for everything. What he is saying is: “In the kingdom, when you invest in the future, you invest in olive plants to become olive trees.”
If I go through a metal detector, it’ll beep.
It’ll say I have metal on me. I take the keys out of my pocket, walk back through, everything is fine. Sometimes, I walk through that same metal detector—it doesn’t beep—it doesn’t beep at all. One time, it beeps / one time, it doesn’t beep. Why does it beep sometimes and not beep other times? Depends on who set it—depends on who set it. There is a setting there. Some people set it more sensitively than others.
We have a generation of young people today whose consciences don’t beep. Problem is—they weren’t set. And make no mistake about it—the consciences of our children must be set by their parents—not by the governments, not by—it’s the role of parents to raise the children. [Applause]
In the kingdom, when a man and woman fear God, and they bring it home, then, they are to take it, collectively, to church. He says in Psalm 128:
“The Lord bless you from Zion.” Zion—oh, what a great word in Scripture—Zion! There’s a hill called Mount Zion—the holy hill. That’s because, on the hill, sat the holy city—the city of Zion—and on the holy hill, in the holy city, sat the holy place of Zion called the Temple. You know what the Temple was? It was a place where a father took his family to let his family know, “We’re part of something bigger.” It was where a father took his family to let them know: “Family, it’s not just about the four of us. We are part of covenanted group of people that goes way back to Ultra-Grandpa Abraham, passed on to Isaac and, then, through Jacob. We want to let you know there is continuity here, and there are people like us all over the place.
“And these people believe in the same God, have the same value system, and abide by the same law. I want to hook you up to them / I want to let you know: ‘We are not in this by ourselves.’
“And when you feel alone, and when you feel like everybody else is moving in another direction, I want to let you know there are a lot of folk who have not bowed their knee down to Baal: ‘Let’s go to Zion and get connected.’” [Applause]
Now, you may say, “But you don’t understand, that was the Old Testament,”—not according to the author of Hebrews—because it says, when we come together to worship God, we come to Mount Zion, and we join angels, and the Old Testament saints, and the church of the firstborn to let it be known we are plugged into something bigger [paraphrase of Hebrews 12:22-23]. That’s Zion—that’s something bigger.
Your nuclear family does not go to heaven as a unit—you will die, your mate will die, your children will die—but when Jesus Christ comes, He comes for His church because that is what this thing is all about. It is all about Zion. That’s why there’s no marriage in heaven—you don’t need illustration when you get the real thing. It’s about Zion—and therein, is one of my greatest burdens in ministry—
—the church. I mean, how can we have all these churches—on all these corners, with all these members, and all these preachers, and all these deacons, and all these programs, and all these choirs—and still have all this mess? There’s a dead monkey on the line somewhere.
Audience: [Laughter] Yes, sir.
Tony: There’s a problem in Zion!
Audience: Come on! Come on!
Tony: America has embassies all over the world. All over the world, you can find an American embassy. An American embassy is simply a little bit of America a long way from home. The values of America are located in the embassy. The staff of America is located in the embassy. If you are an American citizen, and you get in trouble in a foreign land, then, you can appeal to the embassy because it is there for your interests. If you want to move to America, you go to the embassy; and you make application because you want to become a citizen of this country.
What is the church supposed to be? A little bit of heaven a long way from home so that the values of heaven are experienced in history. If you want to know what heaven thinks about race, come visit Zion.
If you want to know what heaven thinks about economics, come visit Zion. If you want to know what heaven thinks about the family, come visit Zion. If you want to know what heaven thinks about justice, come visit Zion because what Zion is—it’s an embassy of eternity, located in time, so that time reveals what eternity ought to look like or what eternity looks like so that you can emulate it in history. That’s Zion—it’s Zion.
It is the place where the people of God understand, “We are connected.” The suburban church can’t make it in the kingdom without the urban church and the inner-city church. And the inner-city church and the urban church can’t make it without the suburban church. No, you don’t understand. No one church reaches any city—it is the combination of those who hold faith in our Jesus Christ who decides that the kingdom is bigger than our location.
Audience: Yes. [Applause]
Tony: It is bigger than our location.
He closes by moving from Zion to the community: “May the Lord bless you from Zion.” And then, he says: “And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem”—
—that’s the city—“all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!”—that’s the whole nation. Do you see where he went? He went from the individual to the family, from the family to the church; and then, when the church gives the benediction, it goes public. It goes public—Jerusalem sees now. There’s no room for secret agent Christians here. There’s no room for spiritual CIA representatives here. I mean, everybody else is coming out of the closet; we might as well come out too. There is a call here for the public witness of the people of God. [Applause] What he is saying is: “That any church—Zion—that doesn’t affect Jerusalem, the city, has missed the kingdom.”
My time is up. Brothers and sisters, one day there is a big show coming to town—God is the producer, the Holy Spirit is the director, Jesus Christ is the superstar; and it will be a worldwide production—
—it’s called the kingdom of God—but in the meantime, He left you and me here as previews of coming attractions / hot clips of the upcoming show.
Audience: Yes, sir.
Tony: So, when people see how hot these evangelicals’ clips are, they may raise the question, “Where can they buy a ticket to the whole performance?” That’s when we can tell them: “You don’t have to buy a ticket. The price has already been paid.” [Applause] God bless you.
Dennis: Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Bob: There you go—Dr. Tony Evans talking about living as kingdom-minded men and women.
Dennis: So, as a young man / young lady who, maybe, has been forced to listen to this broadcast by your parents, are you one of those kind of kingdom people?
If you are a husband, a wife, a mom, a dad, a grandparent—what about you? Are you about the kingdom? Are you evaluating the success of your life at how God is working in and through you to perform His purposes in your life?—and in the lives of others? This is a great opportunity that you have for life. Don’t miss Jesus Christ—and giving Him rulership and authority in your life—to make you all that He designed you to be.
Bob: I ought to mention here that what we were able to play of Tony Evans’ message today on FamilyLife Today was just a portion. If our listeners would like to hear the entire message, it is included in the online version of FamilyLife Today. You can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and hear the online version. And of course, you can download these radio programs for free anytime you like. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com to hear Tony Evans’ entire message, which is taken from
Now, we have some friends who are celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary today. You know, here at FamilyLife, we’re all about anniversaries—2016 is our 40th anniversary as a ministry. But as we have said many times, it’s not our anniversary we want to focus on—it’s all of the anniversaries that are happening, year in and year out, because of what God has enabled us to do through the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
And we want to give a shout out to Jeff and Connie Abdo, who live in Omaha, Nebraska, and who listen on KLCV radio—22 years of marriage today for the Abdos. “Congratulations!” to you guys.
We are hoping to help many of our listeners celebrate an extra special wedding anniversary this year. We’ve got some ideas for you. In fact, if you’ll go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and give us your anniversary date, then, as your anniversary draws closer, we’ll share with you some suggestions on how this can be your best anniversary ever.
We’ve got some emails and text messages we’ll send to you. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and give us your wedding anniversary date; and we’ll help you celebrate your best anniversary ever.
And by the way, thanks to those of you who support the ministry of FamilyLife Today and make all that we’re doing here possible. We are hoping, during the month of February, that there might be 20 new families in every state where FamilyLife Today is heard who would step forward and say, “We’d like to join you and become Legacy Partners with the ministry—monthly supporters of FamilyLife Today.” If you’d be one of those 20 in the state where you live, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “DONATE.” There is information there about how you can become a Legacy Partner. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and just mention that you’d like to join us and be a Legacy Partner.
Now, with all of that, we are done for today.
Thanks for joining us. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. Barbara Rainey is going to be here. She has got a brand-new book we’re going to be telling you about on Monday. It’s called Letters to My Daughters, and we’re going to spend time talking about the early years of the Rainey marriage. I hope you can tune in for it—it’s going to be a lot of fun.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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