>Greetings from Ireland. I am typing this Adventist World Bible lesson from the beautiful city of Dublin. Last evening, during the question-and-answer period at our evangelistic meeting, someone asked, “Pastor, although I am a Christian, I am desperately afraid when I think about the coming of Jesus. I really do not understand why. Can you please help me?”
Facing Our Fears
By Mark A. Finley
Greetings from Ireland. I am typing this Adventist World Bible lesson from the beautiful city of Dublin. Last evening, during the question-and-answer period at our evangelistic meeting, someone asked, “Pastor, although I am a Christian, I am desperately afraid when I think about the coming of Jesus. I really do not understand why. Can you please help me?”
There may be a few reasons individuals might be fearful when they think about the return of our Lord. They may feel that although they are Christians, they are unprepared for the coming of Jesus. They may feel too spiritually weak to pass through the coming crisis to which this world is headed. They are possibly concerned about some specific sin in their lives. The fundamental question is: How can I look forward to the coming of Jesus with joy and confidence? This month’s lesson will provide some answers.
1. What counsel did Jesus give to the church at Smyrna when it faced its time of trouble and violent persecution? What promise did our Lord give them? Read Revelation 2:10.
Historically the church at Smyrna was the second of the seven churches of Revelation. The believers in this church experienced terrible persecution from the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian, which lasted for 10 years, from A.D. 303 to 313. Jesus promised His people that it would not go on forever. As they looked forward in faith beyond their time of trial to an eternal “crown of life,” fear would give way to hope. Looking beyond what is to what will be encourages our hearts.
2. Although we are all fearful at times, how can we be free from the crippling fear that dominates our lives? Read 1 John 4:18, 19 for the hopeful answer.
Experiencing God’s love personally delivers us from the devastating fear that sometimes controls our lives. Believing God loves us and wants only our best makes all the difference. When we focus on our inadequacies and weaknesses, our hearts will be filled with fear. But when our focus is on Jesus and His love, our hearts will be filled with hope.
3. Why will some people be fearful when they consider the coming of Jesus? What is the alternative? Notice the contrast in these two texts: Luke 21:25-28 and Hebrews 12:1, 2.
4. What is Christ’s message of encouragement to each person who experiences fear in the light of Christ’s return? Read Isaiah 35:3, 4.
The reason we need not be filled with fear regarding Christ’s return is that He is coming to save us. The great longing of Jesus’ heart is to take us home so we can live with Him forever (John 14:1-3).
5. What alternative to worry and fear does Jesus give us? Read Matthew 6:33, 34 carefully and notice two things: First, what our Lord counsels us to do; and second, what Christ counsels us not to do.
6. Is there a healthy fear? Read the following texts and identify three things that a healthy “fear” accomplishes: Psalm 19:9; Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; Revelation 14:7.
To “fear God” is to take God seriously, to respect and honor Him. Fearing or respecting God is the beginning of all wisdom; it gives direction in our lives. This deep respect for God leads us to honor Him by taking His commands seriously and glorifying Him in our lives. Focusing our minds upon eternal realities, looking to Jesus, and resting in His love enables us to overcome crippling fear and rejoice in His grace.