Fear of death

Fear

Luke 12:4  I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.

One of the biggest fears we tend to have as humans is that of the unknown.  The powerless feeling that comes from not knowing what is going to happen can be terrifying.  Nowhere is this feeling of helplessness more evident than in the fear of death.  Many people fear death because they don’t know, and think we can’t know, what happens next.

But we can know what happens after this life.  God has revealed to us in His Word that we will live on eternally after this life, either in heaven with Him or in hell apart from Him.  Fear of death then, becomes less about not knowing what will happen and more about fear of going to hell.

Christians have no reason to fear death.  If we are in Christ, we know that we will go on to live with Him in glory.  To live is Christ and to die is gain for the believer.  We can know where we’re going after this life is over and if it’s into eternal fellowship with God, then there’s no reason to be afraid of dying.  Christ’s sacrificial death paid for our eternal life.

Jesus, the redeemer

Who is Jesus?

Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

You and I were once under the wrath of God, helpless to free ourselves from the state we found ourselves in.  We were enemies of God and we never could have done anything to appease Him.  It was beyond our ability to reach out to Him.

But God, in an act of amazing grace, reached out to us.  He extended His hand in peace by offering His Son to die in our place.  His perfect, sinless Son became our sin and paid the price we owed.  And He set us free.  He redeemed us.  Do you understand the term redeemer?  Do you realize the weight it carries?

A redeemer is one who buys something or someone back, say out of slavery or bondage for example.  An Old Testament picture of the redeemer concept is given in the book of Ruth when Boaz redeems Ruth out of her widowhood.  Jesus became our Redeemer which means He purchased us at a price.  Now we belong to Him.  We’re His.  But belonging to Christ is where true freedom is found.  It’s in Him that we really find life.

No one can ever take us away from our Redeemer.  Once Jesus has paid the price for you, you’re His, once and for all.  We can never lose Him and He’ll never leave us.

Fear of evil

Fear

Psalm 27:1-2 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.

 Anyone who follows Christ has and enemy.  The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) and he’ll do it by whatever means necessary.  This can be a scary thought.  A powerful enemy who hates us because we belong to God, just waiting to bring us down.

But we don’t have any reason to fear evil because it’s already been conquered.  God has defeated evil with the work of Christ and Satan has no power over us.  Yes, he’ll still try to defeat us.  Yes, he’ll still prowl around like a lion, seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).  But the point is, he can’t win.  He can’t get us because we’re in Christ.  Jesus’ victory over evil is our victory over evil.  Because He won, we win.

Some Christians still live in fear of the dark spiritual forces that are at work in the world.  One reason for this is their focus on the evil that exists rather than on the Almighty God who beat it.  When we keep our eyes on Him, who is there to fear?

Jesus, the mediator

Who is Jesus?

1 Timothy 2:5-6  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

In the course of human history, many attempts have been made to reach God.  People have built towers to get to heaven, invented superstitions, taken part in religious practices, called on saints, and all other sorts of things that fail to bridge the gap between God and man.

The thing is, God is holy and we’re sinful.  We can’t get into His presence in our current state.  Only someone who’s lived a perfect life can get to God.  Because Jesus is fully God and yet lived an earthly life free from sin as a fully human man, He’s the only acceptable bridge between us and God.

When we pray, our words would fall on deaf ears were it not for Jesus petitioning on our behalf.  Because His righteousness has been imparted on us, God hears us when we call out to Him.  We don’t pray to Jesus, we pray through Him and He takes it to the Father.  Without Him, we’d have no way and no chance.

 

Fear of disappointing God

Fear

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 Unfortunately, a major motivator that’s taught in the Christian church in regards to doing what’s right is fear.  Guilt is heaped upon the Christian until he or she feels terrible for not being perfect.  The problem with this, of course, is that no one is capable of being perfect.  Motivation by fear is ineffective because it misses the whole point.

God did not send His own Son into the world just so we could have an example to live by because He expects us to perfectly obey Him.  He knew that we could never live up to the standard of perfection and He offered a way to forgiveness and reconciliation.  He paid the price so that we were no longer bound by the law.

Jesus freed us from the kind of burden that legalism brings by fulfilling the law.  We don’t need to fear that we’re going to disappoint God because He’s faithful and just and forgives our sins.  We have access to Him.  He wants us to approach Him with our confession, so we have no reason to be afraid of what He’ll do if we own up to our sins.  The prevailing thought is that God wants to forgive us and that should keep us from fearing punishment.

Jesus, the teacher

Who is Jesus?

John 13:15  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Many people, even non-Christians, would say that Jesus was a good teacher.  From the sermon on the mount to His parables, people love Jesus the teacher.  But His best lessons weren’t what He talked about, no not at all.  His best lessons were taught through His example.

Jesus taught His disciples many things (thereby teaching us also as we can read about these lessons), but the one time He actually said that He was showing an example of something they should emulate was when He washed their feet.  The one thing Jesus said to copy Him on was when He acted as a servant, showing love even to His enemy.

All of His other teachings draw from the truth that He showed by this act – he who wants to be first has to be last.  The leader must be the servant.  With that in mind, the other teachings seem to have a theme.

Jesus didn’t just lecture about love, He taught it through acting it out.  He went so far as to demonstrate ultimate love by dying on a cross to set captives free.  That is a teacher worth learning from.

Jesus, the heir

Who is Jesus?

Hebrews 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Jesus is not just a man, not an angel, not even a god.  He’s THE God, heir to all things, worthy of all praise and even the worship of the angels.  All things have been granted to Him.  Just as a firstborn son gets an inheritance, God’s Son gets the inheritance of all inheritances.

A never-ending kingdom is His, and all that’s in it.  His throne will know no end.  He upholds the universe by the word of His power.  This is His role as heir.  All power and authority is His.  This is a mighty thing, but Jesus shares it with us.

When we become children of God through faith in Christ, we become coheirs with Him (Romans 8:17).  What He has, we have.  Power and authority are ours in HIs name and for His will.  There’s nothing that isn’t His and He doesn’t keep it all to Himself.  We have access to the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ.

Fear of judgment

Fear

Galatians 1:10  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Worrying what people may think of us can be paralyzing.  We know what we ought to do, but the knots in our stomach, the fear that’s so strong it makes us sick, can be powerful and cause us to remain inactive.  Sometimes this is even the case when we’re called to do something by God.  Instead of following His path, we do what will win us the approval of other people.  We’ve ALL been there.

But the Bible gives us a principle to live by, all throughout the story.  Time and time again we see that God may call His people to do something that isn’t popular among others.  Look at Noah!  Not a single person outside his own family respected him as he followed God’s instructions.  He built the ark, and the neighbors laughed and mocked.  In the end though, it was God that Noah pleased.  There was no judgment on him from the Lord.  Nehemiah could have stopped trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem when he faced opposition, and there was a good deal of it.  But it pleased God to keep building, and build he did.

Here’s a fact you don’t want to hear, but it’s nonetheless true:  If you’re following Christ, you WILL face judgment from people who aren’t.  It’s a reality that needs to be accepted.  But the comforting part is that the approval of man means nothing compared to the approval of the Lord.  If we keep doing what He calls us to do, it won’t matter what people think, because He’ll be pleased.

Jesus, the provider

Who is Jesus?

Philippians 4:19  And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

There is only one who is capable of providing for your every need.  No matter what you lack, He’s got it in stock.  You see, everything is His.  He owns all things.  As the Psalmist put it, the “cattle on a thousand hills” are His (Psalm 50:10).  Since He owns everything, He’s capable of providing anything you could ever need.  He lacks nothing.

“This is God!” you say, and yes it is.  God the Father does provide our every need but notice that He gives “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  God’s riches, all of His treasure, is in the glory of Jesus!  When Jesus was sent to this earth to die for our sins, heaven was literally bankrupted of all its riches.  God put it all on the line, every chip was on the table.

Jesus is our Great Provider.  Just as He supplied endless food from just a small amount of bread and fish, He can give us all we need.  Do we trust in Him to do just that?

Infallible

God’s Word

Numbers 23:19  God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Not only is God’s Word without error, but it’s incapable of error.  Because the Scriptures are inspired by God Himself and since He is without error or fault, so too is His holy Word.  Because He is perfect and makes no mistakes, the Bible cannot contain mistakes.

Now is when you ask, “But what about all of the different translations we have today?”  Yes, there are many translations and interpretations of the Bible some with particular agendas.  So how can they all be without error if they do not say the same thing?  This is where faith comes into play.

God’s inspired Word was given to the authors of the original text and therefore this is completely inerrant Scripture.  Throughout the years, we’ve translated the text in all different manners and changed the way His Word is presented.  The truth is that the Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).  We’re naked and exposed before God on account of His Word.  No matter who translated it, God’s Word does not return void.  It will accomplish whatever purpose the Lord has for it (Isaiah 55:11).  We need to worry less about what man is doing and rely more on what God is doing.

He’s working in the hearts of people through His Word, regardless of what version they pick up to read.  What may seem like corrupted versions of the Bible can still be redeemed by the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who read it.  He will have His way.  No translator is going to thwart that.

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known