What Are We Afraid Of?

 

Reading – Acts 4:23-31.

Beginning in Acts 3 through the first half of chapter 4 our passage deals with the healing of the lame man at the gate of the temple and the corresponding response of the Jewish leaders. They believed that by getting rid of Jesus of Nazareth they had put behind them all the fuss that was involved in the popular movement surrounding Him. Obviously, that was not the case. In an effort to minimize the excitement over the healing of the man born lame they arrested Peter and John. (But not before 5,000 people were saved, verse 4. The Jewish leaders then did their best to strike fear into them. They forbid and threatened them concerning ever preaching or teaching again in “the name of Jesus,” verses 18 and 21.
What did Peter, John and the church at Jerusalem do? They dug a whole and crawled into it. No, they held a praise and prayer meeting, verses 23-31. Their opening words to God are tremendous in verse 24, “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.”
The following verses lay out how the world and its political and religious leaders have lined up against God and His Son, Jesus, verses 26, 27. In verse 29 they seek to draw God’s attention to the “threatenings” of the Jewish leaders but rather than ask that the threats be removed they request boldness to proclaim Christ in spite of those threats. The record of the book of Acts bears out that this church endured great persecution and yet they found the courage to overcome FEAR and to preach Christ in the midst of it all.
It is amazing how fear works in people’ lives. Christians are not immune to the effects of fear. Fear can garner a great deal of power in and over our lives. It can compel us to do things that are irresponsible and keep us from doing what is right.
Here is an interesting side note: one counselor who works with pastors writes that their number one motivating factor in their lives is fear of failure. In light of the fact that we are to do all for the glory of God, that is a very critical issue for those in ministry to deal with.

FEAR IS THE NUMBER ONE REASON PEOPLE DO NOT SHARE THEIR FAITH IN CHRIST.

We can give it a fancy name and minimize it by making it into some sort of phobia but the bottom line is, believers are afraid of the reaction of people if they share their faith with them.
The devil does a great job of convincing us that no one wants to hear about Jesus and if you speak up for Him you will suffer reproach for it. Christians fear that they will lose friends, will be laughed at, may be looked over for promotion or being lumped in with extremists. I don’t want to be trite but, even if that does happen, so what? Can we not have the same boldness that these early believers had? Do we not have the same Holy Spirit? Do we not serve the same Lord who is God?

THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CONQUERS FEAR. Vs. 31.

Remember what happens here. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit of God there should not be a fear to speak of the things of God.
“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”

FEAR IS NOT FROM GOD.

Sad truth is, fear is gripping our society. Fear of failure; fear of terrorism, fear of man, fear of the devil; fear of the future, fear of anything and everything is plaguing us. But, remember Paul’s words to Timothy:

(2 Timothy 1:7) “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

We must not give in to a spirit of fearfulness. That is not from God. He gives power, He gives love and He gives us a sound mind. Those words refer to the power or authority that is ours as the people of God. It refers to the love of God that dwells in us. And it refers to approaching this world with sanity.
I am more and more convinced that this world is insane. It is not a matter of who is nuts but how nuts are they. How nuts, just how crazy are we? I have a preacher friend that says, “we are all crazy, it just a matter of degree.”
We must not let the world push us into a corner. We must stand for truth, that which is “sound” in wisdom, with the love of God, as His bold army.

“FEAR NOT” IS A COMMON COMMAND FROM THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

Thirteen times in the New Testament someone is told to “fear not.”
Four times in the book of Joshua we read the words “be strong and of good courage.”
How should we approach this world? How should we view the warfare that we have been called upon to wage against this world consumed with wickedness?
COURAGEOUSLY, BRAVELY, BOLDLY, AND WITHOUT FEAR.
In preparation for this message I read a very good quote, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing the very thing that you fear.”

GOD DOES NOT LOOK FAVORABLY ON THE FEARFUL. Revelation 21:8.

“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.”
It is surprising on the surface to find that the fearful are lumped in with the rest of this deplorable crowd that will be consigned to the “lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” That is talking about hell folks. This word from the Greek language of the Bible writers describes at best those who are timid but in general it is used to describe the cowardly. We find the fearful (cowardly) along with the unbelieving.
Who are these ones? It is not talking about precious believers that struggle with fear at times. We have all been there. Most likely these fearful and unbelieving are those who have had opportunity to place their trust in Jesus Christ  to deliver them from the horrible wrath to come, maybe have even made a profession of faith, but the fear of man, fear of reprisal, fear of whatever makes them cave and turn away from Jesus. These ones will find their place in hell along with the rest of this wicked gang.
God is not a god of fear, but of “power, love and of a sound mind.” It is the cowardly, the fearful that will fear and heed the crowd, the words and faces of men about them will turn them from Christ rather than receive Him in saving faith. Beloved saving faith in Jesus Christ, provides the true believer with the courage to boldly share their wonderful Savior.

CONCLUSION: It is a characteristic of the Spirit-filled person to be bold for Jesus Christ.
Notice, that Jerusalem church did not pray “Lord bring lost people to us.” No, verse 29, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.”
Their prayer was “Lord don’t let us crumble under the threats of the world. In spite of the threats make us bold.”
The Lord’s instruction through a parable was: (Luke 14:23) “And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”
Dear ones, my prayer is that we would renounce our passivity and become graciously aggressive in our Christian life. The world is perishing, what are we doing about it?
Dear friend, if you are yet without the confidence of where you will spend eternity I commend Jesus to you. Right now, this very moment, bow your heart before God and ask Him to forgive you of your sin. Turn from your sinful behavior and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.

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