Robert Jeffress - Fearless Faith
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress. And welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Scientists contend that humans develop the emotion of fear purely out of necessity. Fear was designed to keep us safe from predators and other dangers, but scripture reveals a much more sinister reality. The Bible is full of stories of people who acted out of fear and suffered the consequences, which is why the writer of Hebrews so adamantly urged his readers to develop a faith that is unshakeable. My message is titled: "Fearless Faith", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
I remember reading a study once by Dr. Walter Cavert. And he said that 92% of the things that you and I worry about end up never happening. Isn't that an interesting thing? 92% of the things we tend to worry about never come to pass. Which I guess proves the adage, it doesn't pay to worry. But the flip side of that is, it does cost. It cost a lot to worry. Somebody has said fear doesn't empty tomorrow of its troubles but it does empty today of its strength. There are many downsides to worry, to fear but perhaps the greatest downside is this: fear always leads us to make bad decisions. In fact, if you look back over some of the worst mistakes you have ever made, the worst decisions, I bet you can trace many if not all of them to fear. Proverbs 29:25 says, "Fear is like a trap that ensnares us".
I remember reading in a book by Christian financial consultant, Ron Blue. He told the story of one of his clients who was a Christian but who had heard all of these reports and read books about the coming economic earthquake and how the world's economy was going to be destroyed. And this client was so fearful of that that he decided to sell all of his stocks and invest in silver. Over the next years that client watched the stock market quadruple in value while silver did absolutely nothing. It was a bad decision motivated by fear.
Lots of people make bad decisions based on fear. Some single adults are fearful of being single the rest of their lives. So they make a wrong decision about a life partner. Some people are fearful about death. They make wrong decisions about health treatment or lack of health treatment. There are some people, teenagers who are fearful of missing out, being left out of the crowd, so they make bad decisions related to substance abuse and immorality.
Fear always leads to wrong decisions. And that was true of the Hebrew Christians to whom this letter to the Hebrews is written. They were brand new Christians. They had come out of Judaism and now they were fearful of the persecution they were getting ready to experience. They were fearful of being ostracized by their family and friends for embracing Christianity. And they were on the brink of making a disastrous decision. And that was the decision to give up their Christian faith and go back into Judaism. And so the writer writes this letter to warn them of the consequences of making that kind of disastrous decision. What's the antidote to fear that leads to wrong decisions? In a word, it's faith. And that's what the 11th chapter of Hebrews is all about, about what real faith is and what real faith does.
Remember our definition of faith, faith is believing that God will do what he has promised to do and acting accordingly. And throughout the book of Hebrews 11 we see different aspects of that kind of faith, a faith that sanctifies, a faith that saves, a faith that submits, a faith that surrenders. And today we're going to look at another aspect of faith: a faith that is unshakeable. Specifically, we're going to look at how faith helps you conquer the four most common fears in life. The four fears that will keep you from experiencing God's best in your life.
If you have your Bible turn to Hebrews 11 as we talk about developing a fearless faith. Remember I said last time Abraham was to the Jewish people what George Washington is to us. He was the father of the nation. Well, if that's true then Moses is probably like Abraham Lincoln is to us today. Moses was the great law giver and it is the character Moses that the writer uses to illustrate how faith can help you conquer four specific fears in life. First of all, the fear of loss, what reasons some of you may be struggling right now in your commitment to God, struggling and whether or not you're going to go all in in serving God with all of your heart.
Is you're fearful that if you make that kind of radical commitment, you're going to have to give up something important to you. You're going to lose out on some benefit and that's what's causing you to shrink back and your commitment to God. But you know, Moses faced that as well. Let's see how faith helped him overcome the fear of loss. The story begins in verse 23: by faith Moses, when he was born was hidden for three months by his parents because they saw he was a beautiful child and they were not afraid of the king's edict. We don't know much about Moses first 40 years of living. We have this verse. We also have acts 7:21-22 that says, "After Moses had been set outside, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians and he was a man of power and words and deeds".
In Hebrews 11:24-25, "By faith Moses, when he had grown up refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin". By this time, it is evident, Moses knew his life purpose was to be the deliverer of the Israelites. And one day he goes out to one of the work sites and he sees an Egyptian mistreating one of the Hebrew slaves. And Moses is so infuriated that he kills the Egyptian, hides him in the sand, thinking nobody noticed.
Now let me be clear what Moses did was wrong but he did have the right motive. On that day he made a choice. He said, I would rather identify with God's people who are suffering than continue to enjoy the privilege of being Pharaoh's grandson. And that's why it says he chose to endure the ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. What's the antidote to the fear of loss? It is a faith in the promises of God. Look at verse 26, "For Moses, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt for he was looking to the reward". Circle that word "Considering," he did the mental arithmetic in his mind before he made this choice. And he decided I would rather give up present pleasure in order to receive future benefits. Yes, being in Pharaoh's household there's a lot of fleshly pleasures to that. There a lot of material gain to be an heir to Pharaoh but all of that is passing fleeting compared to the eternal promises of God.
And that's the same for you and me. God doesn't always reward our obedience immediate but he always rewards it ultimately. And the only way to conquer the fear of loss in your life is to focus on the promises of God. Faith allowed Moses to conquer the fear of loss. It also allowed him to conquer the fear of other people. The fear of other people will also prevent you from experiencing God's best in your life. Look at verse 27, "By faith he, that is Moses, left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king for he endured as seeing him, that is God, who is unseen". Contrary to popular belief as I read the biography of Moses I do not think he was a particularly courageous individual. You see that in Exodus 4 when he's out in the desert and God speaks to him through the burning bush and says, now I want you to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go. And Moses basically said you're talking to the wrong person God, I'm not the guy for that assignment.
Remember Exodus 4:10, "For I am literally heavy of mouth and tongue". I think that's a reference to stuttering. I think Moses had a stuttering problem. He was a fearful individual. Nevertheless, when he was certain, God had spoken, he wasn't about to allow his fear of other people to prevent him from experiencing God's blessing. Had Moses allowed the fear of other people to dissuade him he never would have left Egypt. If he had allowed the fear of the people that labor would start complaining when he was leading them in the wilderness he would have gone back to Egypt but Moses has heard God speak and that's all that he needed to hear. By the way, the same is true for you and me. What is it that is keeping you from obeying God? Is there somebody you're afraid of? What's the antidote to the fear of other people? What will conquer that fear in your life? It is faith in God's power, faith in God's power.
Whenever I'm tempted to be afraid of other people and what they might do to me, I always think about Jesus' words in Matthew 10:28, when he said, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. Instead fear the one who is able to destroy both your body and your soul". The key, the antidote to conquering fear of people is a faith in God's power. There's a third fear that Moses learned to conquer through faith, and it's the fear of death. And it's referred to in Hebrews 11:28, "By faith he, Moses, kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood so that he, that is God who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them".
Exodus 12 is a story of how God saved the worst plague for the last that would come to Egypt to turn Pharaoh's heart to allow the people to leave Egypt. God said I'm going to send the death angel throughout Egypt and I'm going to kill the first born of every house. That was by the way, a promise made not just to the Egyptians but to the Israelites. I'm going to kill the firstborn of every house. But there's one way to escape my judgment, he said. If you will take an innocent lamb and you will take the blood of that lamb and place it on the doorpost of your own home, when I see the blood of that lamb I will pass over you in judgment. And I'm sure there are those who argued with Moses when he relayed the instruction. Moses, that can't be enough. Just the blood of a lamb? Don't we need to make a sacrifice? Don't we need to make some oath or commitment to God? Don't we learn, need to learn to be better to one another and kinder to the Egyptian? Surely there's something else that we have to do. Moses said, no, the only instruction is take the blood of the lamb and put it on the doorpost. And when I will see the blood I will pass over you in judgment.
That's where we get Passover from. That was the first Passover, God passing over the people in judgment. And of course, all of that was a foreshadowing of what would happen 1300 years later when Jesus Christ the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the earth offers us the way to be passed over in judgment. You see ladies and gentlemen, every one of us deserves to die. Maybe you're fearful of death. Maybe you wonder what awaits me on the other side of the grave if anything. How can I know for sure I'm going to be welcomed into God's presence instead of sent to hell that I deserve forever and ever. There are not many ways to escape that judgment, there's only one way. It is by believing and trusting in Jesus, the Lamb of God who died for the sins of the world. Believing that in some inexplicable way, when he died on that cross, he endured the punishment that you and I deserve for our sins. And the Bible says the instant that you put your faith in Jesus Christ, God no longer sees your sin, he sees the blood of his son and he passes over you in judgment.
Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus". Today, if you're fearful of death and want to know how to escape eternal punishment there is only one antidote to that fear of death and it is a faith in God's provision. The only provision for your sin, Jesus Christ, our Lord. There's some people who would say, pastor, I'm not nearly as afraid of dying as I am of living through some terrible problem, through some trial in life whether it be an illness, whether it be a bankruptcy, whether it be a divorce, I'm fearful of the trials of this life not what happens in the next life. And that was true of these Hebrew Christians who were beginning to experience persecution for their faith.
As we'll see, next time, verse 37 says, "Some in the past were being sawn in two, others stoned, other tortured, even worse watching their families tortured". And they said, God, we don't want to do that. What's the antidote to the fear of trials? It is a faith in God's protection. And you see that illustrated in verse 29, "By faith they, talking about the Israelites, passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land: and the Egyptians when they attempted it were drowned". After that 10th and final plague of killing of the first born, that was enough for Pharaoh. He said, get out of here, scram as quickly as possible. I don't want you Hebrews around here anymore. And so they packed up quickly and off they went toward the Promised Land. But then they came to the Red Sea. The obstacle between them and their future. And they had one of two choices. They could go forward into the Red Sea and drown or they could stay where they are and face Pharaoh's army, not much of a choice but God said go forward.
And you know what the miracle was, God parted that Red Sea. He held the great walls of water on either side at bay through the mighty winds and the Israelites went forward in faith believing that God would protect them. Just think, just think of the faith that took to take that first step. That second step, that third step. Remember these Israelites had not seen the 10 commandments movie yet. They didn't know how this was going to turn out. They just took God at his word and they moved forward and God supernaturally protected them. You know, the same is true for you and me. God didn't tell those Israelites, now here you faced those tremendous trial ahead of you, the Red Sea. I'm going to take you around the Red Sea. Nor did he say I'm going to build a bridge so you can pass over the Red Sea. Instead, verse 28 says, "I will lead you through the Red Sea".
And God says the same thing to you and me. Listen to me if you don't remember anything else I say this morning God has not promised to exempt you from problems in this world. God doesn't have a special blessing for Christian that says because you're a Christian, you don't ever have to worry about sickness or financial difficulty, or children who rebel against you or divorce, you're supernaturally protected from those things. No, Christians experienced the same problems as everybody else does in this world. There is no exemption from problems when you become a Christian nor does God promise to always deliver you out of a problem. He does sometimes. There are miracles but miracles wouldn't be miracles if they happened all the time, you'd call miracles, normals. But they're called miracles because they're rare, the exception.
Most of the time God does not deliver you out of your problem. He doesn't say I'm going to exempt you from problems, I'm going to deliver you out of problems. But what he does promise is this. I will walk with you through your problem. I will be with you through the problem. Isn't that what Isaiah 43:2 says, "When you pass through the water, not around the water. When you pass through the water I will be with you. And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched nor will the flame burn you".
Lemme ask you again this morning. What is it that's keeping you from experiencing God's blessing in your life? What's keeping you from going all in in your commitment to Jesus Christ? Is it the fear of loss? Have faith in God's promises to you. Is it a fear of other people? Have faith in God's power to overcome those people. Is it the fear of death? Have faith in God's one and only provision for your salvation and your eternity. Is it a fear of trials? Have faith in God's power and protection to sustain you through that trial?
It said that whenever the great commander, general Napoleon would get ready for a major battle. The night before the battle, he had this ritual of where he would stand alone in his tent. And one by one, his top generals would come into the tent with Napoleon and without saying a word they would shake his hand, look straight into his eyes and then leave the tent ready to die for the general that they loved. Why? Because they knew their general. It's the same thing for us, ultimately, the antidote to fear in our life is knowing our God. Daniel said it this way in Daniel 11:32, "The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action".