No More Fear!
No More Fear!
One of Jesus' greatest saying concerning the conquest of fear
is found in the first chapter of the last book of the New Testament.
"Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead;
and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
The problem of fear is a problem that affects many lives.
One of the most outstanding disclosures of our stressful, nervous, modern civilization,
is the fact that many people live with fear.
Fear affects all classes of people -- the high and the low, the rich and the poor,
the educated and ignorant, the old and the young.
There is the fear of darkness and of snakes, and of rats.
There is the fear of heights and
Some fear themselves, and others.
Some fear the past, present and the future.
Some fear sickness and growing old and death.
We need to know how to conquer our fears.
The Bible provides that knowledge.
There are two words which stand out like mountain peaks in the Bible.
The words are "Fear not!:
With those words, God comforted Abraham:
"Fear not, Abram; I am thy shield and exceeding great reward."
With those same words He comforted Isaac at his lonely task of digging wells in the wilderness.
With the same words He comforted Jacob, when Jacob thought Joseph was dead.
He spoke through Moses to the Israelites at the Red Sea:
"And Moses said unto the people, fear ye not, stand still,
and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you today."
These two words, "Fear not!" stand out throughout God's Word.
These two words are a part of our great inheritance as Christians.
We should give them our attention wherever they occur in the Bible,
and we should note their relationship to the context.
There are three supreme matters that should concern mankind.
They are life, death and eternity.
Jesus here gives us an all-comprehensive statement concerning these three life and death matters.
He urges us not to fear life, of death, or eternity.
Jesus words, "Fear not!" were spoken to John, who was banished to Patmos,
because of his fidelity to Christ.
Let us examine this comforting message of Jesus.
Jesus tells us to be unafraid of life.
He reminds us that He is "the first and the last; I am he that liveth."
The fear of life is real for so many.
The liability of fear is constant, and this is probably the explanation for many suicides.
I asked one of our most faithful members why he had tried to take his life.
And his answer was: "I was afraid to face life."
Some are afraid because they are so dependent on others.
Sometimes others are proud to declare, "I am independent."
Let such a person tell us of whom he is independent, and how and where and when?
We are all bound together in the bundle of life.
"For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself."
Many are fearful of the mysteries of life.
The mystery of sin, of sorrow, of God, of one's own personality,
and of the strange and ofttimes trying providences that come to us in the earthly life.
Some are afraid of the the responsibilities of life.
Many are fearful of being responsible of anything.
Serious questions probe our hearts.
Moses trembled before his awesome responsibilities.
- "Will I make the grade?"
- "Can I take the heat and the stress of the job?"
- "Will my loved ones be disappointed in me if I fail to live up to their expectations?"
You can hear his fear when he said: "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore,
nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue."
Solomon shrank before his tremendous responsibility, saying:
"And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father;
and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in."
Often when the testing times come we cry out with Paul: "Who is sufficient for these things'"
Many times we ask ourselves that same question, as we are called upon to make important decisions
and meet the testing experiences of life.
We tremble before the serious responsibilities of life.
Jesus comes to us, saying: "Do not be afraid of life."
"I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
Jesus also bids us be unafraid of death.
He reminds us, "I . . . was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore."
The fear of death is a very real fear in many lives.
Some are fearful of death all through their earthly life.
Maeterlinck confesses in his autobiography:
"I am a frightened child in the presence of death."
It is not surprising that the thought of death casts its oppressive shadows about us,
because death is an experience utterly strange to every one of us.
"It is a bourne whence no traveler returns."
"The black camel kneels at every gate."
"With equal pace, impartial fate knocks at the palace and the cottage gate."
People have a strange fascination for prying into the secrets of death.
This gruesome curiosity sometimes leads its possessor into strange quests and still stranger claims.
These uncanny efforts to pry into the secrets of the dead are both profitless and presumptuous.
Jesus has told us all that we need to know about death.
He knows all about the grave, for he has explored its every detail, and He has met this dreadful thing
called death and defeated it.
He is not in the grave.
He is alive.
He is the Living One who is providing the resources
of His wisdom, mercy, power and love upon our needy world,
and His purposes will prevail.
The hands on his clock never turn backward.
"For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet."
Some day war will be no more.
And all forms of selfishness, and sin will be gone.
And so death itself will be no more, because it is divinely decreed that
"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
...But thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Jesus is with His people when death comes.
The evidences of this fact are countless and glorious.
John Wesley declared: "Our people die well."
Many of us, even in our limited and humble lives, can give that same glad testimony.
"Our people die well."
I have seen how well they die, how unafraid and triumphant they are, when they face the last enemy.
We are fortified afresh for our work of testifying to the sufficency of Christ's help,
in every possible human experience.
George W. Truett tells of seeing a Christian mother die.
He said: "Hers was a very humble home, the husband was a carpenter,
the children were very modestly clothed, and the limitations imposed by a meager income for the home
were markedly in evidence.
With a calmness, fearlessness and joyfulness indescribable, that modest woman faced
the final chapter of the earthly journey.
She gave her sublime Christian testimony to her sorrowing husband and children;
she confidently bound them to the heart of God, in a prayer that can never be forgotten
by those who heard it; and then she passed into the valley of the shadows,
smilingly whispering the victorious words:
'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.' "
Truett goes on to say:
"The next day, I saw a strong husband and father pass to the great beyond.
He requested that the pastor pray that the whole household might unreservedly accept God's will.
When the prayer was concluded, the strong man who was rapidly hurrying down to death sublimely said
to the poignantly sorrowing wife and sons:
'This is God's way; he doeth all things well; I accept his will without a question;
tell me, O my dear wife and children, will you not likewise accept his will in this hour,
and through all the unfolding future?'
And with one voice, they said: 'We will.'
And then, the strong man was gone, and the peace and calm of heaven filled all that house.
Truett said, " A third day came, and I was called to witness the passing
of an unusually timid girl in the Sunday school.
The modest child of little more than a dozen years of age anxiously said to her mother:
'Everything is getting dark, Mamma, come close to me, I'm afraid.'
And the gentle mother said to the little daughter:
'Jesus is with us in the dark, my child, as well as in the light, and he will surely take care
of all who put their trust in him.'
And the child's face was immediately lighted up with a joyful smile, as she said:
'I am trusting him, and I'll just keep on trusting him, and he will stay close to me, for he said he would,
and he always does what he says he will do.'
And a little later, even in life's closing moments, her voice could be heard singing:
'There'll be no dark valley when Jesus comes, to gather his children home.' "
Such illustrations of triumph in the hour of death could be indefinitely multiplied.
Pastors have witness such triumphs, week by week, and they are able to stand in their pulpits,
and shout with Paul:
"But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Not only does Jesus tell us not to be afraid of life and of death, He also tells us to have no fear of eternity.
The word He speaks here in His great promise is: "I . . . have the keys of hell and of death."
That little word, "keys," carries with it a large meaning.
It means guidance, it means authority, it means control.
Just as Jesus cares for his people in life and in death, His care will continue in eternity.
"I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Belief in God and in immortality go together.
The age-old question: "If a man die, shall he live again?" is a question
that will continue to be asked.
Suffering souls around the world have asked, and are continually asking if death is a dead-end
-- and if the grave ends it all.
We have a most positive answer to that.
The grave does not end all.
The doctrine of immortality is not a dead creed or an empty speculation.
The doctrine of immortality is a fact.
As Christians we will live beyond the sunset.
We will live forever.
The character of God presages immortality.
When Job thought of men, he said: "If a man die, shall he live again'"
When he thought of God, he said: "I know that my Redeemer liveth."
Then Job went on to voice the deathless cry of the heart for immortality.
God is infinitely interested in us, He cares for us -- He provides for us.
If He cares for the birds, as He does, surely He also cares for us.
He would have us put away our fear, reminding us:
"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
"Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
Abraham was "the friend of God."
Death has not dissolved that friendship.
"Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him."
A little girl, who heard a preacher's sermon, on this sentence, gave this report of the sermon
to a little neighbor girl who did not hear the sermon:
"The preacher said that Enoch took a long walk with God; and they walked, and they walked,
and they walked; and at last, God told Enoch that he need not go back to live at his house any more,
but he could just go on home with God, to live with him, in his house, forever."
Surely, the little girl's interpretation is what our hearts need, and it is what we steadfastly
and joyfully believe to be the plan of God for us.
But the crowning argument for immortality is the experience of Jesus.
He has proven it.
He came to earth, and really lived, and really died, and was buried, and rose again,
just as He said he would do.
Jesus has defeated death and has come back as the victorious Conqueror of death.
He comforts his friends with the gracious words:
"I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live.
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
In that incomparable chapter of guidance and comfort, the fourteenth chapter of John,
Jesus would assure us, once for all, with His divinely assuring words:
"Because I live, ye shall live also."
"Low in the grave He lay--Jesus my Saviour!
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave, He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign,
He arose! He arose!! Hallelujah! Christ arose! "
With our faith in our victorious Saviour,
we may sing with Whittier, in his poem, "Snowbound."
"Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day,
Across the mournful marbles play!
Who hath not learned; in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That Life is ever lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own!"
Are you trusting in Christ as your personal Saviour,
and do you serve Him as your rightful Master?
If your hearts answer "Yes," you may go without hesitation or fear.
Your personal relations to Christ will determine your situation to these three vital matters:
life, death and eternity.
Jesus would have us put all our fears away, now and forever more.
He is our Pilot, our Righteousness, our Saviour, our Advocate,
our infallible Guide, even unto death, and throughout the vast beyond, forever.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White