This evening, we will approach our lesson in a different manner. As I told you in the welcome, I want you to think about the greatest fears that exist in our society. I want us to focus on the major, real fears, not the abstract concept of fear.

For just a few minutes, I want you to share with me and the assembly great fears that are common in our society. Hold up your hand, and for just a few minutes I will bring the microphone around and let people acknowledge fears that are in our society.

(Spend about ten minutes letting people in the audience identify common fears.)

Thank you! (Briefly summarize or make a statement about the kinds of fears shared.)

  1. The first thing we must understand about the fears that terrorize humanity is the immediate, direct bond that exists between fear and evil.
    1. The fear that terrorizes us exists because evil exists in our world and society.
      1. If it were possible to eliminate all evil, all influence of Satan in our world, the fear that terrorizes would cease to exist.
      2. Because it is not possible to eliminate all evil, all influence of Satan, the fear that terrorizes always exists.
    2. It is no accident that the Bible reveals that fear became a part of human existence at the same time that evil became a part of human existence.
      1. When Adam and Eve were seduced by Satan's temptation and rebelled against God, an immediate result was fear.
      2. Genesis 3:8-10 make this evident:
        1. Because of their surrender to evil, they experienced shame (a new experience!).
        2. In shame they tried to hide from God.
        3. With the shame came fear; they also tried to hide because they were afraid.
      3. Humanity can so completely surrender to evil that they destroy their ability to be ashamed; but they never destroy their fears.

  2. One of the benefits of building a close relationship with God is the destruction of the fear of terror.
    1. One of God's objectives in His people is to destroy the fear of terror.
      1. After Abraham rescued Lot from his captors, God spoke to Abraham to reassure him.
        1. God began with the words, "Abram, fear not" (Genesis 15:1).
        2. Though he lived as a nomad in a strange land filled with enemies, God did not want him to be afraid.
      2. When Isaac was struggling with the men of Gerar over water wells, God spoke to Isaac and said, "Do not fear for I am with you" (Genesis 26:24).
      3. When Daniel saw a terrifying vision that caused him to turn pale and tremble, God said, "Fear not, Daniel" (Daniel 10:12).
        1. God said that He had come to Daniel because of Daniel's desire to understand and because of his humility.
        2. Though Daniel was a captive with many enemies, God did not want him to be afraid.
      4. Though God revealed through Isaiah the terrible consequences that Israel would pay for their long history of evil, God also gave promises and reassurances to Israel.
        1. "Fear not, for I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10; 43:5).
        2. "Fear not, I will help" (Isaiah 41:13).
        3. "Fear not, for I have redeemed you" (Isaiah 43:1).
      5. When Paul was on a doomed ship caught in a terrible storm, the Lord spoke to Paul and said, "Fear not, Paul" (Acts 27:24).
    2. I hope that you will do some reading, studying, and thinking about the great servants of God revealed to us in scripture.
      1. They were great servants dedicated to God's purposes because of their faith in God, their love for God, and their awe and reverence of God.
      2. In the truest sense, they trusted God and depended on God.
      3. While they all had great reverence for God, they were not afraid of God, nor did they let circumstances cause them to live their lives in terror continually.
    3. To me one of the most insightful lessons about the fear of terror is found in one of Jesus' parables, the parable of the talents in Matthew 25.
      1. The servant who was entrusted with one silver talent, an enormous amount of money at that time, hid the silver because he was afraid.
      2. He returned to his master exactly what the master gave him with this explanation (Matthew 25:24,25):
        1. "I knew you were a hard man."
        2. "I knew you harvested what you did not plant."
        3. "I hid the silver because I was afraid."
        4. He was afraid because he did not know his master.
        5. In this parable, God is the master.
        6. Are we the servant who misunderstands God and are afraid?
    4. Let me share some summary thoughts.
      1. The poorer our relationship with God, the greater our fear.
      2. The better our relationship to God, the less fear we have.
      3. The greater the distance between us and God, the greater our fear.
      4. The closer we are to God, the less fear we have.
      5. Faith and love work together to destroy fear.
        1. That is true in human relationships.
        2. It is true in our relationship with God.

To each of His sons and daughters, God says, "Don't be afraid; I am with you."

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 25 April 1999

This sermon is also available in French.

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