In this sermon, entitled, “Have No Fear”, Pastor Neil talks how we can overcome fear, no matter what our circumstances, death does not have the last word. Here are some excerpts:
… [W]e are not to live in mortal fear of the coronavirus or anything else (such as cancer or other disease) that may threaten our lives. What Jesus wants you to understand is that death is not the worst thing that can possibly happen to you. Or to me. Desmond Tutu, the South African Anglican bishop who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his tireless efforts to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, said of his opponents in the fight against apartheid: “What is it that they can ultimately do? The most awful thing they can do is to kill me, and death is not the worst thing that could happen to a Christian.” (Quoted in Richard Schmidt, Glorious Companions: Five Centuries of Anglican Spirituality, 328.)
What is the worst thing that could happen to a Christian? The worst thing that could happen to anyone who professes to be a follower of Christ would be to renounce their faith, to reject the Savior, and, in turn, to be rejected by God on the day of judgment. But that will not happen to anyone who truly trusts in Jesus Christ and His saving work alone. That will not happen to anyone whose life is marked by His saving grace.
The worst thing that can happen to anyone is to die in a state of unbelief and rebellion against God. The worst thing that can happen to you or to anyone is to leave this world and go into eternity without a saving relationship with God, a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Please do not let that happen. Do not think that you have plenty of time to get right with God. Maybe you do. But none of us knows when the day of our death will come.
What I do know is that every day you live, every morning you wake up, brings you one day closer to your death. And if you wait until it’s too late to come to Jesus, it will be too late forever. Please do not let that happen. Come to Jesus in trusting faith today. Let Him make you new on the inside. Ask Him for the gift of faith to believe in Him, and for both the desire and the power of His Spirit at work in you to follow Him from now on. Will you do that right now? Right where you are? Will you let me, or someone in your family, or a Christian friend you trust, know of your decision by God’s grace to trust and follow Jesus?
For anyone who knows Jesus as Savior and Lord, who has been saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, death is the worst thing that can happen to you. But for Christians, death is just the prelude to life everlasting.
Listen to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler and subsequently imprisoned at one of the Nazi concentration camps. He was executed in April 1945, just a few days before the Allies liberated the concentration camp. As he was being taken away to be hanged, he said: “This is the end – for me, the beginning of life.”
Bonhoeffer knew – by faith – that the end of this mortal life is not the end. It is, in a beautiful, triumphant sense, just the beginning – the beginning of a life in the presence of God with which the very best of life on this earth cannot even begin to compare. How do we know this? “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), trusting in the Word of God and the God whose Word it is. We know it because Jesus rose again from the dead and promised that because He lives, we will live also (John 14:19).
What I want you to know today is that Jesus does not want you to fear death. He does not want any of us to fear death. Jesus wants you to trust Him with all your heart in life and in death. He does not want you to fear what the coronavirus or cancer or a heart attack or persecution or trouble or setbacks of any kind may bring.
What Jesus does advise, if I may put it this way, is that you and I “fear God without being afraid of Him” (Darrell Bock, Luke: The NIV Application Commentary, 339). You can fear God without being frightened of Him. You can treat Him with the honor and reverence and awe without living in fear of Him. The Bible says that for those who live in unbelief or who actively oppose God, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). But if you know and trust and love and follow Jesus, you need not fear God’s judgment. Hell is not your destination. You have the promise of a home in heaven.
… With such a loving Father, with such a gracious Savior, it is God’s will that you and I have no fear. God does not want you to live in fear. In life or in death.