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But The Fearful . . .

But The Fearful . . .

       Over the past twelve months or so, we have heard much more about fear, or things that induce fear, than perhaps in the last twelve years. The “fear mongers” in politics and medical field have been largely responsible for the fear that has been instilled in the hearts of people this past year, and into the present.   Fear mongering is: “the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue”. The reasons for such a tactic to be used are myriad. But when “boiled down”, all these reasons point to one spreading fear in order to be in control of others.  

       The phrase: “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself” was immortalized in the 1933 inaugural address of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Of course, at that time, there was a lot of fear in this country.   The country was in the Great Depression, and uncertainty was the order of the day.   Some speech writer came up with the phrase to allay the fears and uncertainty of the American people, which also carried the “thinly-veiled” message that the “fear” would go away, especially if the man delivering the speech was put in office to “make things right again”.

       As we live our lives, there are no doubt, many things which we fail to fully understand, and the lack of understanding spawns fear.   This is why God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided all we need to know about fear and how to overcome it in this life as we prepare for our existence beyond this one. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:  (2Peter 1:3)

       God has always “conveyed” His message to His people with words. God sometimes spoke directly, and at other times sent an angelic messenger to tell the earthly messenger what to say.   Therefore, words are important. This is because words have meaning. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that God now speaks to man through His Son through the medium of the New Testament.

     Words convey the thought(s) of the one conveying the message for the benefit, or in some cases, the detriment of others.  The Words of the Bible convey information, instruction, correction, as well as warnings needing to be heard and heeded.   In Revelation 21:6 we find a list of all will suffer the “second death”. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.  NOTICE that fearful heads up this list.

     But, what does it mean to be “fearful”?   In every case, a word must be examined in its context, and in many cases, it is helpful to know from what a certain word is translated.   For instance, the “fearful” of Revelation 21:6 is not the same word as is found in Hebrews 10:31, although in English, they are spelled and sound the same. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Here, it means “to have a dread”, but in Revelation 21:6 the Word “fear” is derived from a different Greek word and carries with it the meaning of being “timid, or faithless”. Neither of these is a good fear. Timidness and faithlessness both lead to a dread of an eternity of anguish.    

     After rebuking wind and waves we find Jesus’ question to the apostles elect in Mark 4:40. Immediately, in verse 41 we see their reaction, and see another meaning of fear; one we all should have in the presence of God and His Holy Word.  And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? They were in “awe” of the Christ and His magnificent power.

     Let us be clear. All are to be in “awe” of God and His Word. That Word and the plan it so excellently lays out, is given so none should have any reason to “dread” God, nor to be “timid or faithless”. Romans 10:17 clearly tells us where to go if/when we need more faith.   So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God The Spirit had Solomon convey this very thought in Ecclesiastes 12:13 which identifies the “whole duty” of man while on this earth. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

     Rather than dread or timidity, one that has the proper fear of God and His Word, will have the boldness to stand in the face of adversity; the lack of dread for what earthly foes might do or say, and have the dedication to warn every fellow man of the demise that awaits the “fearful” and wicked.

     Christ is the perfect example, and we read what others noticed about Him in John 7:26, while He was on earth. But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Why can we not see it through His Word?  

     Remember the Words of Jesus to the twelve in Matthew 10:28?   They apply to us as well. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. The only “fear” we should possess is the “awe” of God and His Word.   When this is the case in our lives through diligent study of God’s Word and application of it to our lives, we can see “love made perfect” as in 1John 4:17. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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