Do Not be Afraid
March 9, 1880
C. H. SPURGEON
This updated and revised manuscript is copyrighted © 2001 by
Tony Capoccia. All rights reserved. This file may be freely copied, printed out,
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Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY
NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society,
used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
A copy of this sermon, Preached by Tony Capoccia, is available
on Audio Tape Cassette or Audio CD at
“Do not be afraid.” [Revelation 1:17]
“Do not be afraid” is a plant which grows very plentifully in God’s garden. If you look through the lily beds of Scripture you will continually find, next to other flowers, the sweet “Do not be afraids” peering out from doctrines and teachings, even as violets look up from their hiding places among the green leaves. “Do not be afraids” bloomed in the past, at the feet of Abraham, when he returned from fighting with the kings. Melchizedek blessed him, and the Lord comforted him. The patriarch might have been half afraid that he would always lead a troubled life, now that he had drawn the sword; but the Lord came to him in a vision, and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” If he had to undergo a soldier’s work, he should have a soldier’s shield, and a soldier’s pay, and both would be very great, for he would find them both in God. After you have been fighting battles for Christ you may feel tired and worried, and then your great Melchizedek will refresh you with bread and wine, and whisper in your ear, “Do not be afraid.”
“Do not be afraid” was spoken to Isaac when he had dug wells, and the Philistines fought over them, and he, like the meek soul that he was, gave them up one by one to avoid a conflict. Finally, he settled down at Beersheba, and there the Lord appeared to him, and said, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you, and will bless you.” He was a feeble man, and therefore the Lord dealt tenderly with him. If any of you are meek and quiet spirits, and are prone to shake with fear, may the Lord often give you a blessed “Do not be afraid” to wear in your hearts, that its fragrance may comfort you. Then there was Jacob. You know how troubled his life was, but when he heard that his beloved son, whom he thought was dead, was actually alive in Egypt, and was robed with glory, and that he had sent for him to go down to see him, he was afraid to go until the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid to go down into Egypt,” and gave him this encouraging promise, “I will go down with you into Egypt.” If any of you are making a great change in life and moving, perhaps, to the very ends of the earth, “Do not be afraid to go down into Egypt.” Should God command you to go to the most distant edge of the green earth, to places and rivers unknown, yet if he commands you to go, “Do not be afraid” to go, for certainly he will be with you.
The Israelites at the Red Sea were afraid of Pharaoh, and then the Lord said to them, “Do not be afraid, stand still and see the salvation of God.” If you are brought to a crossroad tonight, and do not know what to do, take the advice of Holy Scripture, and “Do not be afraid;” but “stand still and see the salvation of God.”
As we observe the Scriptures we perceive that “Do not be afraids” are scattered throughout the Bible as the stars are sprinkled over the entire sky, and when we come to Isaiah we find constellations of them. When I was a boy, I studied Dr. Watts’s book on the principles of Christianity, and I am glad I did. One of the questions that it asked was, “Who was Isaiah?” And the answer was, “He was that prophet who spoke more of Jesus Christ than all the rest.” And it is for that very reason-that he spoke more of Jesus Christ than all the rest-that he is the richest in comfort to the people of God, and he continually says, “Do not be afraid.” Here are a few of his cures for the fever of fear: “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, Do not be afraid.” “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” “Do not be afraid, I will help you.” “Do not be afraid, I have redeemed you.” “"Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated”; and so on. So abundant are these “Do not be afraids” that they grow like the daisies, and other sweet flowers of the meadows, among which the little children in the springtime delight themselves. As to gathering them all up, no one would attempt the task. The field that is fullest of these beautiful flowers is that which Isaiah has given us; go there and pluck them for yourselves.
Now I gather from the great quantity of “Do not be afraids,” even in the Old Testament, that the Lord does not wish his people to be afraid, that he is glad to see his people full of courage, and especially that he does not want them to be afraid of him. He would have his children treat him with confidence. Slavish fear may be thought to be friendly to the Old Testament, and yet it is not so, for there the Lord cries to his chosen ones, “Do not be afraid.”
When we come into the New Testament, there we see God becoming more familiar with men than ever before; not descending upon the earth with ten thousand flaming chariots, setting the mountain ablaze, but coming down to Bethlehem as an infant, with angels chanting the joyful song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” The spirit of the New Testament is drawing near to God: ceasing to tremble and beginning to trust, ceasing to be the slave and learning to be the child. Though in the precise form of it the words of my text were not very often spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ, yet his whole life was one long proclamation of “Do not be afraid.” I think I will give you tonight most of the instances in which our Lord himself expressly said, “Do not be afraid,” and each one I will give to you, will either come from the lips of Christ, or else from Christ’s own angel, sent to comfort one of his servants, I pray that it may come fresh from God to every tried and troubled believer, and that all of us together may receive for our different fears this exact same comfort from the mouth of the Eternal, “Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid.’”
I. Our first text that we will look for, if you have your Bibles with you. I hope you all have them, for I love to hear the rustling of Bible-pages. Turn to the Book of Revelation, the first chapter, and the seventeenth verse, and there you will read that John saw the Savior in his glorious splendor, and he said,
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.’”
Our first “Do not be afraid” DEALS WITH THE FEAR CAUSED BY THE OUR SAVIOR’S MAJESTY.
You that know him hold him in deepest reverence, even as John did when at the sight of his divine Lord he fell at his feet as though dead. Did you ever think of Jesus as divine, and try to form some idea of his grandeur, his triumph, and his exaltation above all thrones and powers and rulers and authorities? As your soul has extolled him, and your mind has been expanded with elevated thoughts of the all-glorious Son of God, has it not occurred to you to say within yourself, “How dare I think that he is my Beloved, and that I am his? Could such majesty meet such misery? Could such glory bring itself into union with my insignificance?” I know you must have experienced that feeling; and yet you must not yield to it, for our Lord Jesus, although he loves to see your holy awe, would not have that reverence freeze into a chill reserve or a slavish trembling. No, though he is divine, he invites you to approach him without fear. Great as he is, you may dare to be open with him.
“Let us be simple with him then
Not backward, stiff, or cold,
As though our Bethlehem could be
What Sinai was of old.”
Let your Lord be glorious to you, but still let him be near you. Exalt him on his throne, but remember that you sit there with him. However glorious he may be, he has desired that you may behold his glory, and be with him where he is. To you he has given the gift to be an overcomer, and to sit on his throne even as he has overcome, and has sat down with the Father on his throne.
If you have studied the matchless purity of his character with adoring admiration, you must have been amazed at the absolute perfection of his manhood, and the glory of his moral and spiritual character. At such times, if you have had a true sense of your own position, you have been ready to sink into the dust, and you have cried out, “Will he wash my feet? Will he give himself for me? Can it be that he could have loved one so stained and polluted, so despicable and so dirty, so completely unworthy even to live, much less to be loved by such an absolute lovely one?” But I pray that you always remember, when you think of his perfection, that he has perfection of mercy as well as of holiness, and perfection of love to sinners as well as perfection of hatred of sin; and that, guilty as you are, you must never doubt his affection, for he has pledged himself to you in his heart’s blood, and proved his love by his death. Albeit that you are conscious of being less than nothing and vain, and know that Jesus is absolute perfection, yet do not regard him with nervous fear, but draw near to him as confidently as a child to its parent, or a wife to her husband. It is one of Satan’s temptations to make us afraid of Christ. Let us not be ignorant of his schemes.
Why should you be afraid of Jesus when he tells you not to be? Why dread the Lamb of God? He says, “Do not be afraid.” It is not the preacher who cries out “Do not be afraid,” but it is Jesus himself who whispers to his poor servant, fallen as though dead at his feet, “Do not be afraid: Do not be afraid.” It would be disobedience, then, to be afraid. When those lips, which are like lilies, dropping their sweet-smelling perfume, say to me, “My child, do not be afraid,” how can I be afraid? Remember, dear friend, your safety lies, in trusting Jesus, and not in being afraid of him. There was never a soul yet saved by being afraid of Christ: there was never a reckless son that found forgiveness by being afraid of his Father. This kind of fear needs casting out, for it brings torment. Jesus, our Lord, is great and good, but he has chosen to become the Savior of sinners, and we need not fear to approach him, for “this man welcomes sinners.” A host that entertains at his table the poorest of the poor and the lowest of the low, and welcomes them, is not one to be feared. Remember that if you are honestly afraid of Jesus, you should then be afraid of grieving him by being afraid of him. When the physician sees the patient shrinking from his scalpel he is not surprised, but when Jesus sees you shrinking from that hand which does not wound, but cures by its own wound, he looks with eyes of sorrow on such fear. Why back away from him? The little children ran into his arms. Why shrink from him? Nothing cuts him to the quick more than the unkind, ungenerous thought that he is unwilling to receive the guilty. If he meant to keep you at a distance he never would have come down from heaven; his coming here cannot mean anything else than that he loves those who are perishing: therefore do not grieve him by being afraid of him. Remember that his truthfulness forbids the rejection of any that ever come to him, since he has pledged his word that he will in no way cast them out. Therefore, you need not be afraid that you of all people cannot come.
I received a letter just this week, in which one poor soul says, “I believe that I am the worst person that has ever lived: though not in outward appearance, yet in my heart. I believe that all other people are more sincere than I am, or have some one point in which they are better than I am, but I am the worst of all, and I fear that Jesus will never look on me.” Downcast soul, there is no true ground for such a suspicion. If you had a demon in you, you can still come to Christ; and if there were a legion of demons in you-and I do not quite know how many made up a legion; but if there were so many that you could not count them-yet you could come with all the demons in hell in you and he still would not frown on you, but he would cast the demons out of you. Oh, do not be afraid to come to him whose wounds invite you. The blessed Savior who welcomes sinners does not love the thought that you should stay away because of fear.
I know what some of you are doing: you are trying to get to heaven in a roundabout way. The late Emperor of Russia, when the railway was to be built between Moscow and St. Petersburg, employed a great number of engineers in making plans. He looked over many of their maps, and finally, like the practical man that he was, he said, “Here, bring me a ruler.” They brought him a ruler: he took a pencil, and drawing a straight line he said, “That is the way to engineer it: we want no other plan than one straight line.”
There are a great many ways of engineering souls to heaven; but the only one that is worth considering is this: Immediately draw a straight line to Christ. Did I hear someone say, “I would like to talk to Mr. So and so first.” By all means talk to him, but do not stop at that, nor stop for that. Go to Christ first. “Oh, but I would like to talk with a good woman-a dear Christian lady.” I recommend you to go to Jesus Christ first, and see the lady afterwards. It is acceptable to have an enquiry-room, and I have nothing bad to say against it, but the best enquiry-room in the world is your own bedroom. Go and enquire of Christ right away. We may make our Christian workers and leaders into little priests if we are not careful of what we are doing. There must be nobody between a soul and Christ. Blind souls will never get their eyes opened by all the kind hands of all the good people in this church or in all of London. Christ’s hands can give sight, and only his; and you may come to Christ tonight. “Which way?” you say. By no movement of your body, but by a motion of your mind. Turn your thoughts towards him, your desires towards him, your trust towards him. Look to Christ and live. May the Holy Spirit lead you to trust him now, and he will save you.
Thus I have tried to briefly set forth the fear which arises from the majesty of the divine person of Christ, for which he prescribes this cure: “Do not be afraid, I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” Do not be afraid of Jesus because of his glory, nor stand back because of your wickedness. You desperately need a Mediator between your soul and God; but you do not need a mediator between your souls and Christ. You may come to him directly, just as you are.
“Come needy, and guilty, come vile and bare;
You can’t come too filthy, come just as you are.”
Draw a straight line-remember that, a straight line from your lost condition to Christ, and let your resolve be: I, being lost, trust Jesus to save me, and I am saved.
II. The second “Do not be afraid” is equally precious. Turn to Luke, the eighth chapter and the fiftieth verse, and there you will find that Jairus, the synagogue ruler, had a little daughter, who had just died, and someone said to him, “‘Don’t bother the teacher any more.’ Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’”
THIS “Do not be afraid” DEALS WITH THE FEAR ARISING OUT OF THE HOPELESSNESS OF A DESPERATE SITUATION, LIKE THE CASE IN POINT.
The little girl was actually dead; and yet Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.” Here is comfort for others. Dear friend, if you have been praying for a long time about anyone who is near and dear to you, and you have been longing for that person’s salvation, and your prayer has not been answered, and that person has even gone from bad to worse, I don’t want you to give up praying. “Oh, but,” you say, “I am getting very discouraged, for they are plunging deeper into sin.” Well, there is cause for fear, but not while Jesus lives, for he can reach any soul so long as it remains this side of the gates of death. Jesus can still save a person as long as they are not in hell. Continue to pray, and do not be afraid. No case is absolutely hopeless as long as Jesus lives. Love will still prevail.
Sometimes, we hear of some amazing examples where prayer is answered at the very end of life.
I have read of a woman who prayed a long time for her unsaved husband. She used to attend a certain church in the north of England, but her husband never went with her. He was a drinking, swearing man, and her heart ached greatly over him. She never ceased to pray, and yet she never saw any results. She always went to the church alone, with one exception, that her dog always went with her, and this faithful animal would curl himself up under her seat, and lie quiet during the service. When she died, her husband was still unsaved, but the little dog still went to the church. His master (the unsaved husband) wondered what the faithful animal did at the church service. Finally, curiosity made him follow the little doggie. The dog led him down the aisle to his dear old mistress’s seat. The man sat on that seat, and the dog curled himself up as usual. God guided the minister that day; the word came with power, and that man wept till he found the Savior. Never give up on your husbands, good women, for the Lord may even use a dog to bring them to Christ when you are dead and gone. Never give up praying, hoping, and expecting. Do not be afraid; only believe, and you will have your heart’s desire. Pray for them as long as there is breath in your body and theirs. There is no use praying for them when they are dead, but as long as they are still alive, then never cease to plead with God on their account. Persons have been converted to God under very extraordinary circumstances.
And another example, there were these two dishonest fellows that thought they would rob the house of a godly man, a minister of the Word, who was accustomed on Sunday evenings to gather the poor people of his congregation together in his parlor and preach the gospel to them. The
thieves thought that if they could get into the minister’s house with the poor people during this special evening meeting, then they could hide themselves so they could rob the house easily during the night; and so they hid themselves in the room right next to the one that the Word of God was being preached. But they never robbed that house, for through the godly preacher’s sermon, which they heard through the wall, the Lord Jesus Christ stole their hearts, and they confessed their sin, and became followers of the Savior.
You do not know how far the arrows of the conquering Savior may fly. Never despair. Jesus Christ comforts you in reference to the souls of those for whom you are anxious, by saying, “Don't be afraid; just believe, and they will be healed.” Struggle for them, pray for them, and believe that Jesus Christ can save them.
Also, let this same truth be fully believed and applied to yourselves. O my dear listener, you may think you are too far gone for salvation, but you are not. You may imagine that your case is completely hopeless; but you are just the kind of person that Jesus Christ saves. If he never saved odd people he never would have saved me, for many men judge me to be a very odd person. If you are another strange person, then come along with me, and let us trust in him. If you are the one person that is a little over the line of mercy, you are the very person that Jesus Christ chooses to bless, for he loves to save extraordinary sinners. He is a very extraordinary Savior; there never was another like him, and when he meets a sinner that is extraordinary, he often takes him, and makes him one of his captains, as he did Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the apostle. I pray that you will “not be afraid” on account of the greatness of your sin. Be humbled on account of it, but do not despair about it. Are you old in your sins? Are you deeply ingrained in your sins by practicing them for a long time? Still do not doubt the Redeemer’s power. If your salvation rested on yourself you would have reason to despair, but the Father has provided help through One that is mighty, yes, the One and Only Son of God, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth, and he is able to save completely those who come to God through him. O poor condemned sinner, look up and hope. O you who have heard the clang of the iron gate, you who are shut up in despair, have hope, have brave hope, for Jesus says to you, “Do not be afraid; just believe, and you will be healed.” God grant that this gracious “Do not be afraid” may be a comfort to someone that is here seeking consolation.
III. Our third “Do not be afraid” is taken from the Book of Luke, the fifth chapter, beginning at the seventh verse:
“They came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’”
THIS “Do not be afraid” DEALS WITH THE FEAR WHICH ARISES OUT OF THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST’S GOODNESS.
If the Lord has made any one of you successful in his service, if you have experienced the same success as I have, then your success humbles you before his throne. There was a time when everybody was abusing me, but then I rejoiced and gloried in God: I experienced happy days when my name was rejected as evil. But when the Lord, in his great mercy, gave me souls for my efforts, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and began to build up the church I pastored, I subsequently became subject to such a depression in my spirit that I can scarcely tell you how crushed I felt under the weight of divine mercy. I am not surprised, if godly preachers, after seeing their churches full of people seeking the truth, say to themselves, “Lord, why have you been pleased to use me and to favor me?” If any of you are blessed in your work, as I trust you may be, you may also be made to feel the mysterious depression which takes the place of self-exaltation in those who know that every good gift comes only from God.
Fear because of the Lord’s great goodness also comes in another form: a person says, “I believe that I am saved because I have trusted in Christ, and I see things in His Word that I have never seen before. And yet can it be? It is too good to be true.” Now, look, if it were not supremely good it would not be true. It is because it is so unbelievably good that it is true. As one person said of God’s mercy, when his friend was astonished at it, “I am astonished too; but still it is just like him.” You know, it is just the way God does it, blessing a poor sinner beyond all that he can ask or think. That’s how God does it, he astonishes us with his grace! When the Lord sends his mercy it never rains, but it pours, he floods the desert. He not only gives enough to moisten it, but enough to drench even the ruts. He makes the wilderness a standing pool of water, and the thirsty land springs of water. Do not, therefore, doubt the genuineness of his mercy because of its greatness.
But some fearful Christians say, “This is a great work which God is doing here, but it is too great to last.” Yes, I have heard that too, and the gathering of many people to hear the gospel has been sneered at as a “temporary wonder.” This is sad! our unbelief has said, “It cannot last”; and yet it has lasted. In my mind, the path of faith is very much like that of a man walking on a tightrope, high up in the air, and you always seem half afraid that he will fall; yet if the Lord placed us on a spider’s web as high as the Alps he would not let us slip. The walk of faith is like going up an invisible staircase. When you have climbed and climbed, you sometimes cannot see one single step before you. Each step seems to be on the air, and yet when you put your foot down it is solid granite firmer than the earth itself. There are times when Satan whispers, “God will leave you. God will forsake you. He has done all this for you, and yet he will abandon you.” Ah, but he never will, for his faithfulness never fails.
We must not be like the man from the country, who, when he had to cross the river, said that he would wait till the stream ran dry, for it could not possibly run by that fast forever, but must eventually run out of water! We have been afraid that we would live until the river of God’s mercy ran dry; but it never has, and it never will. Some Christians say when a great number of sinners are converted, “Oh, well, you see, because there are so many, they cannot all be genuine salvations.” That is exactly why I think the work must be real. When I see a little small number of salvations every now and then, I am far more inclined to say, “Well, I don’t know. It may be of God, but it is not a very great affair, and he generally does great things when his Spirit is poured out.” But when I see God calling three thousand sinners to salvation in one day, I say, “This is the finger of God. I am sure of it.” Now, I would be the last to despise the day of small things, but I must also speak up for the day of great things. I have noticed that those who are added to the church at times of revival are people that produce saving fruit quite as well as others, and I think even better than others. That is my experience; because at times we are apt to say, “there are so few coming to Christ; we must not be so strict in examining them;” but when there is a great number we feel that we can afford to be particular, and we are naturally more strict. I do not justify this, but I am sure that the tendency exists. I believe in a great work; and when I see our Lord filling the net, I think I hear him saying to me, “Do not be afraid because the fish are causing the boat to begin to sink. Don’t be afraid. You will get many more than these. Let your net down again.”
Let us not doubt because it seems too wonderful that God would bless us to such a great extent. It is wonderful, but let us not doubt it. Can the Lord use such poor inferior creatures as we are? He does use us. Don’t ask how he can do it if he does it. He is a God of sovereignty, and he uses whom he wishes, and if he blesses you, give him the glory for it: but do not let the greatness of his grace cause you to mistrust him. You have seen a painter with his palette on his finger, and he has ugly little daubs of paint on the palette. What can he do with those spots? Go in and look at his picture. What splendid painting! What lights! What shades! Where are those daubs of paint? They have been used up on the picture. What! Did he make that picture out of those ugly spots of paint? Yes, that picture was made out of those little daubs of color! That’s the way it is with painters. Jesus does the same with us, but in even a wiser way. He takes us, poor smudges of paint, and he makes the blessed pictures of his grace out of us; for it is neither the brush he uses, nor the paint he uses, but it is the skill of his own hand which does it all, and we must praise his name for it. Now, poor worker, do not be afraid. The great Artist will take you in hand, and make something of you. I forget how much can be made out of a penny’s worth of iron, but I do know that there are methods by which a penny’s worth of iron can be so molded, and fashioned, that it can become worth a hundred times what it was before it came from the manufacturer’s hand. Who can tell, what the Lord can make from such poor creatures as us? He says, “Do not be afraid”; and I pray that you will not be fearful. You who make up this church, do not be afraid because the Lord fills this great building. Summon your partners that are in the other boats to come and help you. Help others around you to fill their boats, and may God send you a long and continued revival of religion. Do not let the old folks get frightened at the Lord’s glorious working: believe in it and rejoice! Why, if the Lord were to convert three thousand in one day in any place, there are many Christians who would say, “I do not believe in it, for I never saw anything like it before.” Many churches would say, “We do not think that we ought to take them in just yet.” At Pentecost they baptized the 3,000 converts the very same day. You see, the church was ready to baptize them: we have no church in England that would do that, and we have no Christian people who would approve of it if it were done, rather they would as a whole murmur that it was reckless enthusiasm, and foolishness. “We say that, “We believe in the Holy Spirit,” but do we truly believe in him? God grant that we will.
IV. But now a fourth “Do not be afraid,” which we find in the tenth chapter of Matthew, the twenty-eighth verse. I will not turn to it, but I will just tell you what it says, because there are many of you here who need its comfort.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
THIS “Do not be afraid” REMOVES THE FEAR ARISING OUT OF SEVERE PERSECUTION.
Around here, when a working man is converted to Jesus Christ, his friends and his neighbors soon find it out, and I am sorry to say that workingmen, as a rule, do not treat Christian men fairly. They used to say in America, in the days of slavery, “It is a free country; every man may whip his own slave,” and so it is here: it is a free country, every man may swear at his fellow-workman for worshipping God. It is a wicked thing that men would harass their fellowmen for being godly. If you have a right to swear, I have a right to sing psalms; and if you have a right to stay in bed on Sunday mornings, I have a right to go to church and worship God, and I also have a right to go in and out of the workplace without being called names because I live in the fear of God. But the right is not always recognized. Some have to run the gauntlet from morning to night because they serve the Lord.
Now, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, do not be afraid, though you are nothing but poor sheep, and you are sent out into the midst of wolves. Doesn’t the words of our Lord seem perfect for our age when he said, “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves.” Just think with me for a minute-how many actual wolves (the real animal) are there in the world now? They have been eating the sheep ever since they had a chance; but are there more wolves or more sheep alive today? Why, the wolves get fewer and fewer every day, till when a wolf comes down into the inhabited lands in France we have it reported in the newspaper, and we do not have one wild wolf in this country, though they used to abound here. The fact is, the sheep have driven out the wolves. It looked as if they would eat up all the sheep, but the sheep have exterminated them. So it will be in the end with defenseless believers and raging persecutors; patient weakness will overcome passionate strength. Only be patient. You have an anvil in the shop: and you know how hard the hammer comes down on it. What does the anvil do? Why, it simply bears it. You never saw the anvil get up and fight with the hammer. Never. It stands still and takes the blows. Down comes the hammer, but now listen. How many hammers have been worn out to one anvil? Where it has stood for years, the old block of iron remains, ready to bear more strokes. The hammers will break, but not the anvil. Be anvils, brothers and sisters, be anvils. Be sheep, for heavenly submission will win the victory, and patient non-resistance will prove to be the conqueror.
I pray, do not be so afraid as to conceal your testimony. Tell others what Jesus Christ has done for you, and the more they blaspheme and persecute you, then be all the more determined, by God’s grace, that they will not be able to find fault in your character, and that they will know that you are a Christian. Climb up the mast and nail the colors to it. Drive another nail tonight. Fix the colors to the masthead. Say, “By God’s grace, never will I be ashamed of being a Christian. I might be ashamed if I were a drunkard. I might be ashamed if I were a blasphemer; but I will never be ashamed that I am a follower of the crucified Son of God.”
Oh, you that are poor men and women, who have for the most part to bear the brunt of the world’s assaults, God grant that you may not fear. Do not fall into doubt about your religion either. Do not be so afraid as to fall into questioning and unbelief. True religion never was in the majority, and never will be for many more years to come. You may rest assured that if we were to poll the world for any opinion, and if that opinion should be decided by a majority, it would be inevitably be wrong. Now and then in one country right prevails, but all the world over the seed of the serpent outnumber the seed of the woman. Blessed is he who can stand in a minority of one with God; for a minority of one for God is in the judgment of truth a majority. Count God with you, and you have more with you than all they that are against you.
V. I must not keep you much longer; therefore I want to say another word which I would like all of you to hear. This is the fifth “Do not be afraid.” You will find it in Luke, chapter twelve, verse thirty-two. Christ preaching to his disciples said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
THIS “Do not be afraid” PREVENTS THE FEAR OF WORLDLY CONCERNS.
Now, I know that this is a time in which many of God’s people are very tried, and they tremble when they think about trying to meet the basic needs of their families. Listen to this; did you escape from poverty by being frightened about it? Did your fears ever make you any richer? Haven’t you found it to be vain to rise early and to stay up late, and toiling for food to eat when you have had no faith in God? Haven’t you learned that? And don’t you know that if you are a child of God he will certainly give you your food and clothing? Ah, I hear a heavy sigh coming from someone, “It has been a hard winter.” It is true, my friend, it has been a hard winter. I dare say that the birds have found it so, and yet early this Sunday morning, I noticed when I opened my window that they were singing very sweetly; they broke forth in a chorus of harmonious song. You know what the little bird sings when he sits on a bare branch with the snow all around him? He chirps out:
“Mortals, cease from toil and sorrow,
God provides for tomorrow.”
Learn the sparrow’s song, and try, if you can, to catch the spirit of the bird which has no barn or storeroom, and yet is fed. There is this to comfort you: “Your heavenly Father knows everything that you need.” He understands your needs. Is it not enough for a child that his father knows his needs? Rest in that, and be truly confident that you will be fed. You will not have much in this world, perhaps; but you will have the kingdom. Be happy about that. Your inheritance is yet to come; you will have the kingdom. Even now you have a legal interest in eternal glory, and this also involves present supplies: he who promises the end will provide for the way. Some of the Lord’s best people are those that have to suffer the most, but it is because they glorify him the most here by their suffering. I think the angels in heaven must almost envy a child of God who has the power and the privilege to suffer for Christ’s sake; for without a doubt angels render perfect service to the heavenly King, yet not by suffering. Theirs is active and not passive obedience to the will of God. I think they will gather around some of you in heaven, and say, “You lived down in London. What sort of a place did you live in? A small dark room? You were very poor: you were out of work: and did you still trust God?” The angels will be pleased as you tell them, “Oh yes, despite our very poor condition, we went to the heavenly Father, and we said, ‘Though you slay us, yet will we hope in you.”’ That is the greatest thing that a person could ever say; at least, I think it is. Nobody ever uttered a majestic sentence than that, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” The expression is sublime! When Job had lost everything, after being immensely rich, he sat among the ashes, and scraped his sores, and he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.” He was reduced to the most miserable condition, and yet he added, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” You cherubim and seraphim, in all your songs no stanza excels that heroic verse. Angels cannot rise to such a height of sublime devotion to the Invisible One as Job did when in his misery he glorified his God with abiding confidence. Oh, you that are brought very low, you have great opportunities for honoring God if you will only trust him. “Do not be afraid.” “Do not fear.”
“Do not be afraid the loss of outward good,
He will for his provide,
Give them supplies of daily food,
And all they want beside.”
And he will give you spiritual food too. When God saves his people he gives them spiritual food to live on until they get to heaven. God does not treat us like the Duke of Alva did to a city which had surrendered to him. He agreed to give the inhabitants their lives, but when they complained that they were dying of hunger he maliciously replied, “I granted you your lives, but I did not promise you food.” Our God does not talk like that. He includes in the promise of salvation all that goes with it; and you will have all you really need between here and heaven, therefore do not be afraid.
VI. Lastly, time fails me: but I want to close with that word in the twenty-seventh chapter of Acts, the twenty-fourth verse, where the Lord sent his angel to his servant Paul in the time of shipwreck, and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.”
So I pray to God that all threats in the future-all imminent evils and dangers which surround you now-may not cause you to fear, for the Lord will not allow a single hair of your head to perish, but he that has made you will sustain you, and make you more than conquerors.
Tested and tried people of God, rest in the Lord, and your confidence will be your strength. Many of you have often heard the true story of the young boy, on board a ship in the time of a great storm, who was the only person that was not afraid. When they asked him why he was not afraid, he said “Because my father is at the helm. Because my father is at the helm” We, as children of the Living God, have even a better reason for casting away all fear, for not only is our Father at the helm but our Father is everywhere, holding the winds and the waves in the hollow of his hand. No trouble can happen to you or to me but what he ordains or permits. No trial can come that he cannot restrain and overrule. No evil can happen except what will work for the good to them that love God. Therefore do not be afraid. Even if the howling storm rages, and the ship creaks and groans as she labors among the waves, and you think that nothing but destruction awaits you, do not be afraid! Do not let fear linger for a single moment in the presence of the eternal Christ who says, “It is I, do not be afraid.”
May God grant that his own “Do not be afraids” may enter the heart of every
one of you tonight in some form or another; and to his name be glory, world
without end. Amen.
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