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Fear Not

By Rev. David Blunt

This Editorial was published in the Presbyterian Standard, Issue No. 17, January-March 2000.

I T is a word that must come often to the Lord's people during their sojourn in this world. It comes when they grow faint, discouraged or anxious. When they hear it their drooping spirits revive, their troubled breast is soothed and purpose returns to their step. It is a word full of love, grace and tenderness. Though it be spoken at times in a mere whisper it has omnipotence behind it. God says to His precious children in their every time of need: "Fear not."


Fear, carnal fear, is a foreigner in this world: it was not found here in the beginning of things. It came in with the serpent and sin. What need had our parents in paradise to fear? They lacked for nothing. Their souls were at peace. They enjoyed a blessedness in their communion with God which we can only begin to imagine. Reverence towards the Most High was the only sort of fear they knew: a good and healthy fear to have.

When the forbidden fruit was taken and eaten the change in their state was profound. An unholy fear came over them: the same voice of the Lord which had delighted them now filled their souls with dread (Gen. 3:8). A dread so great that they sought to hide themselves from His gaze. Their newly-discovered nakedness of body bore testimony to the stripping away of original righteousness from their souls, leaving them exposed in their sin to the wrath of God. Their prospect was hell; hope of heaven was gone.


This is the legacy which Adam left to his posterity: an estate of sin and misery. The proven charge against mankind is that "they are all under sin" (Rom. 3:9). The evidence is conclusive that "there is no fear of God before their eyes" (v.18).

No man is completely unaware of his true state before God. At some point in our experience we all know pricks of conscience, a sense of horror, fear of judgments in this world and damnation in the next. Cain, arrested by the Lord after his brother's murder, could only lament, "My punishment is greater than I can bear" (Gen. 4:13). King Belshazzar saw the handwriting of judgment on the palace wall and "[his] countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another" (Dan. 5:6). Judas hanged himself in remorse (Matt. 27:3-6). Felix trembled (Acts 24:25). These tears and fears were no part of salvation but a foretaste of that worm which dieth not, and of that fire which cannot be quenched.


Religion, more than anything else in this world, puts souls to sleep. Even the religion of the Bible, without the power of the Spirit of God accompanying it, will not wake men from their natural slumber. Let no-one think though that he can forever smother his conscience by attention to duties. Listen to the prophet: "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isa. 33:14). A man may go to hell, even to the deepest hell, from the borders of heaven. We long for those self-deceived souls at ease in Zion to be made anxious. Is your godliness more than form? is your faith more than notion and your repentance more than regret?


Clever and learned men may miss salvation but wise men never do. The Holy Scriptures with the blessing of the Lord upon them are able to impart light to the eyes of the mind. The first rays which dawn upon our souls are those tremendous truths concerning the God with whom we have to do. By nature we are as spiritually ignorant as Pharaoh, who asked, "Who is the Lord?" (Exod. 5:2); and as those wicked men who say, "What is the Almighty?" (Job 21:15). By grace we come to know Jehovah in all the glory of His attributes. And there is no truth we need to learn more than His holiness – His pure, beautiful, incomparable holiness. Have you acquainted yourself with Him? Remember: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding" (Prov. 9:10). Do you truly fear the Lord?


If faith is to know Christ (John 17:3then assurance is to know that we know Christ (1 John 5:13). What struggles believers may have before they make their calling and election sure to themselves! They are burdened in case they be found at the last to be hypocrites, castaways, reprobates. In His own time the Lord says to them: "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee" (Isa. 43:1). They hear it in the preaching, when the marks of grace are spoken of; they know it at the throne of grace, when the Spirit of adoption enables them to cry with feeling, "Abba, Father" (Rom. 8:15, 16).

When Christians have a good hope regarding the world to come they are able to bear with much in this world: hardships, sicknesses, persecutions for Jesus' sake. Redeemed from sin by Christ and delivered from Satan, death and hell, there is nothing to be feared from these. An interest in the cross of Christ is an antidote against the fear of any enemy. "I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine." With such a claim upon us no danger can really threaten us. We are called to glory and all things are working together for our good. We are as safe as the saints in heaven.


Another word which comes to Zion's travellers is: "Fear not; I will help thee" (Isa. 41:13). The church in her march towards the heavenly city is like Gideon and his three hundred men: "faint, yet pursuing" (Judg. 8:4). These were the best troops in Israel, carefully selected, eager for battle. Victory was promised but it would not be without much effort.

The church has been chosen by the Lord Himself and has found grace in His sight. The fight of faith often makes her weary but she is sustained by the bread of life and finds strength for the conflict. The Lord holds her right hand and she is secure. As she leans upon her beloved she makes progress. Enemies are overcome, one by one, even princes. He leads her onward and upward. When the Jordan of death is crossed the final victory is gained. The grace of God was her help from beginning to end.


The unconverted man is full of self-confidence and so never calls upon God. Even the church at times may say foolishly of herself, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing" (Rev. 2:17). But the thing the true believer most fears is simply being left to himself.

He may be conscious of particular sins, habitual sins. He knows that he often grieves the blessed Holy Spirit. Mountains of provocations may be built up between the erring Christian and his heavenly Father. They begin to seem permanent, insurmountable. "Have I committed the unpardonable sin?" he may even begin to fear. Or perhaps a believer is not aware of great transgression and guilt but nonetheless cannot find the Lord, though he seeks after Him. His soul is greatly cast down. He cries night and day but is not heard. He moans: "Lord, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?" (Psa. 88:14).

There is only one remedy. The abandoned child of God must hear: "Fear not: for I am with thee" (Isa. 43:5). He does not demand or wish an explanation of every twist and turn of his providence here, or even to be spared his severest trials – but he does need to see his Father's face.


No word is more full of comfort for the saints than that spoken by the glorified Christ: "Fear not; I am the first and the last" (Rev. 1:17). All the fulness of the Godhead is here, pledged to them in the work of their salvation, from predestination to consummation. We shall often falter, but He cannot fail.