Should We Be Afraid of the Future?—Part 3
In the previous two Q&As, we spoke of one of the greatest fears which we could have—the fear of man—the fearful concern what man may think about us or do to us. We also addressed other fears which we might encounter, and we began to discuss that no matter what situation we might find ourselves in, and what circumstance might tempt us to become afraid, God shows us the way of escape from fear.
We saw that when they were facing or finding themselves in an extremely difficult situation, God’s servants turned to God for help, peace, security and salvation. We also spoke of a vital key when we are in the midst of uncertainty—the conviction and persuasion that God hears us when we call on Him, and we pointed out that to allow in our minds the possibility of such powerful godly intervention requires much faith on our part—which must be accompanied, at times, with godly encouragement.
When Paul and his companions were in a ship on the ocean and being confronted with a terrible storm which appeared likely to kill them all, God gave Paul a powerful encouraging promise. God might not act in exactly the same way with us today, but we need to know that God is there and able and willing to encourage us in ways which we would be able to understand.
We read in Acts 27:18-25:
“And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up. But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.” Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.’”
Paul had the absolute faith that God would intervene and protect and save him and his companions. One might say that this was an unusual circumstance in that God only saved Paul at that time because He wanted Paul to appear in Rome before Caesar, but this argument would miss the mark.
We find almost identical circumstances in the life of the original twelve apostles at the time when Jesus was dwelling with them as a Man.
We read in Mark 4:35-40:
“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’”
They were lacking faith—having no faith at all—and as a consequence, they were fearful. Christ asked the question whether He would find faith on the earth upon His return. Without faith, we will be afraid. And even without enough faith, we will be fearful.
In another situation, we find the following, as recorded in Matthew 8:23-27:
“Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”
Here, Christ is telling them that they did not have enough faith, which explained their fearfulness. Although the records in Matthew and Mark sound similar, they are not identical, but depict two separate events. Matthew describes a “tempest” or a shaking—a seaquake—, while Mark speaks of a “windstorm” or a whirlwind or a hurricane. The disciples showed and expressed fear in both incidents, lacking faith completely or not having enough faith.
Again, one might respond that Christ only saved the disciples at that time as He had plans for them. The Bible does not say this; and in addition, Christ has plans for every one of us whom He has called to salvation in this day and age.
We need faith in God to conquer fear. Christ tells us in John 14:1: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”
This belief in God can be undermined when we are surrounded by evil occurrences or when we hear false or even correct rumors. These physical circumstances can undermine and destroy our faith, when we are not careful.
In Mark 5, we find an interesting example. Beginning in verse 22, we read:
“And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and begged Him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.’ So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him.”
But while on the way, “some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’” (verse 35).
But Jesus was already on the way to heal the daughter. All seemed lost, when the terrible news came, but Jesus gave the following encouraging words to the father, in verse 36: “As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe.’” And so, He went and resurrected the daughter who had in fact died. With God, nothing is impossible—even when it might appear to our limited understanding that nothing could be done. Rather than being discouraged by negative false rumors or even seemingly devastating statements of fact, we are to continue to believe in God and His help.
When we have no faith or not enough faith, we will fear. We must believe in God and His help. But the ultimate faith of which we speak and which is required to conquer all fear is not something which originates within us and which we can create. It is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8).
Faith, hope and love belong together (1 Corinthians 13:13). And so, we will also fear if we do not have enough love. And we are not talking about some theoretical and esoteric concept of “love.” Rather, 1 John 5:3 tells us: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” With that kind of godly love, we will conquer fear. 1 John 4:18 says:
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
Fear involves torment, or is afraid of the penalty to be expected for violating God’s Law and not repenting of it, but the concept of love and lack of fear goes even deeper. When God’s love is in us, which is manifested by our obedience to His Word, then we know that nothing can and will happen to us which God, who is a God of love (1 John 4:8), will not allow, and everything will work out for our own good (Romans 8:28) .
How can God’s love be in us? The answer is given in Romans 5:5: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit [which] was given to us.”
God’s Holy Spirit in us gives us God’s love (the first of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23), as well as God’s faith (another characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit), and it also gives us God’s hope which does not disappoint. With God’s Spirit in us, we will conquer all fear.
God describes His Spirit in us in this way in 2 Timothy 1:7: “… God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
With the Holy Spirit in us, we will have God’s peace (the third characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit). Christ had the Holy Spirit of the Father in Him, which destroyed all fear and which enabled Him to sleep in a boat when it was threatened by earthquakes and hurricanes.
We read in Psalm 119:165: “Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.” This peace is a gift from God which Christ will share with us, as He said in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” And with that mindset, we conquer fear and can even have joy (the second characteristic of God’s Spirit) in the face of adversity.
We are told that even when we find ourselves in big trouble, we have no reason to be afraid, always knowing that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and that we must allow and agree with the fact that His Will must be done in our lives. But with God’s Spirit in us, we will conquer fear and anxiety.
Some converted Christians might feel fear and anxiety for their unconverted loved ones—especially in the face of the terrible events which are prophesied to occur very soon in the unparalleled awful Great Tribulation.
But we must remember that our unconverted young children and even our unconverted mates who are not hostile to God and who are willing to dwell with us in peace are “sanctified” or “holy” in the eyes of God (1 Corinthians 7:14). And as God promises His faithful people protection from the evil days to come to test everyone on earth, so God DOES promise protection for them as well.
We read in Proverbs 14:26: “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.”
When God brought Israel out of Egyptian slavery, He allowed others to accompany them. Exodus 12:38 says: “A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock.”
We must also not forget that God hears our prayers for others. Moses prayed repeatedly to God for the people of Israel when they had sinned and God was about to destroy them, but because of Moses’ plea, God heard his prayers and relented. Abraham prayed for the people of Sodom, and God would have heard him and He would have refrained from destroying Sodom, if there had been at least 10 righteous people in the city.
God listens to our intercessory prayers—especially for our brethren and even our unconverted loved ones. We read in 2 Thessalonians 3:1, 3: “Finally, brethren, pray for us… the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.”
Paul says in Romans 15:30: “Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me…”
Also in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.”
As Paul asked the brethren to pray for him, so we in the ministry are asking the same of you today.
God will not allow evil to come upon us that we would not be able to bear—and that includes evil for our children and unconverted loved ones. As we are in God’s hands, there is no reason to be afraid or to fear. But this lack of fear we can only have if we know—and we know that we know—that God is with us; that His Spirit is in us; and that He helps us and protects us.
Fear will hinder us to stand up boldly for God without compromise or shrinking back, and it will hinder us from proclaiming God’s whole counsel (Acts 20:27). It will prevent us from keeping His Law. Unless we conquer fear with God’s boldness and courage, His love and His faith, it will ultimately destroy us in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8 Authorized Version).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link