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Rev. Ord L. Morrow, former associate minister and conference speaker on Back to the Bible from 1959 to 1981, said, “Ours is a very complicated world, a world of up and down, of good and evil. It would be impossible to describe our world with a single word. But if I had to choose one word, I would choose the word ‘fear.'” Rev. Morrow explains, “Fear causes people to live far below their ability. If we are not careful, a thousand fears will attack us when we awake in the morning. There is a fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of ill health, fear of what others will think, fear of being shoved aside, fear of growing old and fear of death, just to mention a few.”
Dr. Michael A. Guido (1915-2009) known for his “Seeds from the Sower” broadcast, shares, “The Arabs have a fable that says Pestilence met a caravan on the way to Baghdad. ‘Why must you travel to Baghdad?’ asked the Chief. ‘To take five thousand lives,’ he answered. On the way back Pestilence again met the caravan. ‘You deceived me,’ said the Chief. ‘You took 50,000 lives.’ ‘No,’ insisted Pestilence. ‘I took 5,000 lives. Fear killed the rest.’ That is a fable. But this is a fact—fear kills.”
Don’t give in to fear. Scripture contains the phrases “Don’t be afraid” and “Do not fear” more than 300 times. Dr. Charles Livingstone Allen (1913-2005) reminds us, “The Bible repeats the command ‘fear not’ exactly 365 times, or once for each day of the year. It is as if to say there is no day in our lives when fear is not a present reality.”
We read in Isaiah 41:8-13, “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ ‘Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish. You shall seek them and not find them—those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing. For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.'”
Our passage reveals several reasons we should not give in to fear.
I. First, we see the amazing practice of God.
Don’t give in to fear, God says, “I have” (vv. 8, 9).
This speaks of a Past Activity (History).
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.'”
A careful perusal of the Book of Romans reveals a parenthetical section from chapter 9 though 11 related to the nation of Israel. Here we discover the relationship of God’s chosen people of Israel and His chosen people the church in Romans 11:11-36.
Paul writes in Ephesians 1:3-6, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”
Paul writes in Romans 8:28-30, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
II. Then, we find the almighty presence of God.
Don’t give in to fear, God says, “I am” (v. 10).
This speaks of a Present Reality.
Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873) served as a medical missionary to Africa. For 30 years he suffered hunger, sickness and injuries. “Shall I tell you what sustained me amidst the toils, the hardships, and loneliness of my yielded life?” asked Dr. Livingstone. He continued, “It was the promise, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end.'” From Matthew 28:18-20 we read, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” In addition, we read in Hebrews 13:5-6, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; / I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Dr. Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) explains, “Only he who can say, ‘The Lord is the strength of my life,’ can say, ‘Of whom shall I be afraid?'”
You may have heard, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” However, we must correct that statement to say, “The only one we have to fear is God Himself.” We live in a “no fear” generation, much like those described by Paul in Romans 3:18, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Our nation is much like Israel as described in Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Our Lord Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). If you do not have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you should be afraid, because you will face the wrath of God in judgment. If you are living out of fellowship with God as a believer, you should be afraid, because you will face the chastening discipline of your Heavenly Father. If you say you are a Christian and you are living in sin without receiving the chastening of God, you are not a child of God. We read in Hebrews 12:7-8, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”
Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983) makes the following observation in The Hiding Place, “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”
Paul writes in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Someone explains, when Dr. William Anderson (1799-1872) lay dying, his friend, Mr. William Logan (1813-1879), read the words of Isaiah 41:10 to him, and the noble old man seized upon it. Dr. Anderson looked up at his friend and said, “What a grand staircase that is upon which to go to Christ!”
Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) states, “God incarnate is the end of fear; and the heart that realizes that he is in the midst…will be quiet in the midst of alarm.”
III. Lastly, we discover the assuring promise of God.
Don’t give in to fear, God says, “I will” (vv. 10, 13).
This speaks of a Future Eventuality (Prophecy).
Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie, former chaplain of the United States Senate, shares the following in If God Cares, Why Do I Still Have Problems? “God gives us a specific promise in the Bible for every problem…We have a Lord who not only helps us grow through our problems, but gives us the power to triumph over them.”
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”
In Jude 1:24 we read, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”
An unknown poet expresses the following poetic verse,
“If the path I walk seems steep and rugged,
And I must labor long to reach the goal,
There’s always One close by my side to help me;
He brings sweet rest and comfort to my soul.
And from the pages of God’s Book before me,
He speaks the words that all my fears dispel,
And though I do not know the why nor wherefore,
I can be sure that He does all things well.”
Dr. R. Kent Hughes shares, “Years ago, two prominent men made totally contradictory statements. One was the president of Harvard University. The other was a graduate of Yale University and the president of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. R. A. Torrey [1856-1928] said, ‘Preach any Christ but a crucified Christ, and you will not draw men for long.’ At the same time, Charles Eliot [1834-1926], in a lecture titled ‘The Future of Religion,’ said that while it was OK for ancient man to believe in a divine atoning Christ, modern man had outgrown that idea. He said, ‘Let no man fear that reverence and love for Jesus will diminish as time goes on. The pathos and heroism of his life and death will be vastly heightened when he is relieved of all supernatural attributes and power.”
The Son of God took on humanity without divesting His deity. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. It is critically important for us to read history and to heed the warnings issued by faithful men of God to prevent repeating the same errors in subsequent generations. As Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874-1965) warned, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
The following great hymn first appeared in A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors (1787), published by Dr. John Rippon (1751-1836), noted pastor of Carter’s Lane Baptist Church in London, England. Interestingly, Dr. Rippon provided only the initial “K” for the author’s name.
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
Elisabeth Elliot shares in A Path Through Suffering, “The people of Israel were up against impossible odds when they found themselves between the chariots of Egypt and the Red Sea. Their God is our God! The God of Israel and the God of the gourse thorns looks down on us with love and says, ‘Nothing has happened to you which is not common to all. I can mandate it. Trust Me.'”
Paul writes in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Don’t give in to fear.