Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
August 7, 2016
Central Passage
John 7:10-13
Description

FEAR OF FAILURE

          “…after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.  Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, ‘Where is he?’  Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him.  Some said, ‘He is a good man.’  Others replied, ‘No, he deceives the people.’  But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders” (John 7:10-13).

          Our life should be a living witness…but no one has fully completed their witness until they open their mouth and speak.  You can say, “I’ll just let the way I live my life speak for me”…but you’ll need to open your mouth to share the actual words of the gospel.  Romans 10:14 questions, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

          What is the greatest problem you face in personally witnessing to someone?  That question was posed in a survey to people attending a training session for a Billy Graham Crusade…and the results of that survey were…to say the least…interesting.

          Nine percent said they were too busy to remember to witness…28 percent felt they lacked any real information to share…12 percent said they felt their own lives were not demonstrating the gospel as they should…but the largest group…51 percent…said they feared how the person they were speaking to would react to the gospel.

          Fear is the reason why the numerical growth of the church has practically been stopped in its tracks by people who claim to be Christians.  In today’s intensely politically correct world…people fear they will be labeled a fanatic if they suggest that belief in Jesus is the only way that a person can be saved from eternal hell and damnation.

          These folks I’m speaking of don’t just fear rejection if they mention Jesus…they’re actually embarrassed to mention His name to other people.  Paul must have dealt with this attitude…which caused him to write, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

          No, the fear of being Christian…which requires being different than the world around you…is not some new phenomenon.  That fear has been present ever since Jesus made it clear just who He is.  So we know from Scripture that if you’re ashamed of Jesus…you’re ashamed of God and His Holy Spirit…because they’re one in the same.

          In Romans 9:33, Paul spoke these words from God that are recorded in Isaiah 28:16, which says: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

          God refers to His Son as a stone and rock, which speaks of strength.  And since a Christian is to emulate Jesus…he or she is to exhibit that same kind of strength.  Unfortunately, most people who claim to be Christian are more like sifting sand blown about by the wind than they are like a rock or stone.

          Since the first century A.D. most people have refused to acknowledge a personal relationship with Jesus for fear of how they will be perceived.  In today’s America witnessing about the saving grace of God…which is found only in Jesus will get you labeled as a fanatic or stupid…and in many other parts of the world it will get you killed.

          There has always been a reluctance to speak out about who Jesus is…because there are consequences to acknowledging His deity.  When it came to acknowledging Jesus…first century Jews were more afraid of their religious leaders as they were of the country Roman occupiers.

          Shamefully, 21st century Americans are just as fearful of acknowledging Him…because they’ve become captives of a liberal ideology that’s just a few degrees short of communism.  They’ve given up their First Amendment rights for a seat at the table of a political correctness that protects every satanic perversion while trashing everything Christian.

          The Great Commission has always been the number one priority of every truly Christian church…but the number of churches committed to being truly Christian is declining…which has led to the inevitable decline of people who are willing to witness about Jesus.  So faith in Satan is being lifted up…and faith in Jesus is being held down…and it’s being held down by the very people He commissioned to lift Him up.

          Because people fear being ostracized by this perverse and sinful society in which we all live…they take a sissified approach to presenting anything Christian…and they especially take a sissified approach to witnessing about the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

          Given all that…Peter didn’t initially show a lot of courage about his relationship with Jesus.  But he provided a lesson for us all by turning his initial failure into triumph.

          When Jesus was taken prisoner…he followed the procession as far as the house of the high priest.  When a young woman tried to point him out as a follower of Jesus…Peter denied the relationship three times and added some curse words for emphasis.

          But in the fourth chapter of Acts we find Peter speaking boldly about Jesus to many of the people responsible for the crucifixion, sayingSalvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

          So why the difference?  Why in one case did this man cower…and in another speak boldly about the Lord?  The answer is found in the second chapter of Acts…where Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit made the difference.

          An explanation of the change in Peter isn’t complicated…nor is it complicated for the Christian who witnesses and the Christian who doesn’t.  When you’re saved…the Holy Spirit lives or dwells within you.  But when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit it means that He controls you.

          In other words…the Holy Spirit can dwell within you without controlling you.  But when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit…He controls you.  That’s when you become fearless in proclaiming the gospel…and that’s when people start listening to you.  Until you’re filled with the Spirit…well, you might as well be trying to cut down a tree with the handle of an axe.

          You need a sharp cutting edge to chop down a tree…and you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to chop through all the barriers of fear that Satan has set up to stop you from witnessing.  When you’re filled with the Spirit…He is controlling you…and people will listen because He convicts them…something you can’t do.  It’s really somewhat amazing as to how little we have to do to bring a person into the presence of Christ.

          If you want to be filled with the Spirit…it’s not complicated.  It can be done in four easy to understand steps.

          The first step is self-examination.  This takes some serious time…and it requires intense daily prayer…and intense daily Bible study.  It’s important to immerse yourself in prayer and in the Word of God.

          The second step is confession…or cleansing of self with the blood of Christ.  In 1 John 1:9, we’re told that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  This is a call to be specific about our sins…naming them one by one.

          The third step is repentance…and genuine repentance is more than simply saying that you’re sorry for your sins against God.  It’s a state of mind.  It’s seeking to have the mind of Christ and giving proof of it.  God won’t use a dirty vessel.  He doesn’t put His powerful hand into a dirty glove to do His work.

          The fourth step is asking God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.  In Luke 11:13, Jesus said, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy spirit to those who ask him.”

          This is the crux of the matter: fear will flee from you when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit.

          If you’re fearful…no matter what you’re fearful of…you’re to pray earnestly about that fear.  The author of Psalm 34:4 wrote: “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

          We are to pray according to God’s will…and sometimes we’re not sure if it’s His will…so we’re to say, “Only if it’s your will, Lord.”  But there are some things that we know that are definitely God’s will.  For example, we know that He wants the people we come in contact with saved.  We know that He wants us to use Christ-like wisdom in reaching out to them…and we know He wants us to overcome our fear of witnessing about Jesus.

          And we’re to claim God’s presence as we go out witnessing.  In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus said, “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

          Claim that promise.  And know that you’re not alone.  He’s never more with you than when you make His last command your first concern.  We’re not with Him in heaven right now because He entrusted us with a specific purpose…that of bringing others into His presence and giving them the same opportunity that He gave us.

          God has planted you in a specific place for a specific purpose.  He didn’t call you to be a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief…or for that matter a retiree.  But He did call you to be a soul-winner.  That calling is as obvious as the nose on your face.

          And He called you to reach out to a circle of people that no one else can reach.  Plain and simple…you’re the only one with the DNA that they trust.  So don’t be afraid of making a mistake in trying to bring someone to Jesus.  The biggest mistake you can make is not to try…or to say nothing.

          God uses your witness…even if you make a mistake.  He blesses the obedience of trying.  Remember, witnessing is not about you.  You don’t have the power to save anyone…but you can be God’s instrument of grace.  Just open your mouth and the Holy Spirit will fill it.

          John 1:45-49 provides a good example of what I’m talking about.  “Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’  ‘Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.  ‘Come and see,’ said Philip.  When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘He truly is an Israelite in whom there is not deceit.’  ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’  Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel’.”

          There are five Scriptural things that everyone should know…especially those who are presenting Jesus to others.

          The first thing a person should know is that God loves all people.  John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

          The second thing a person should know is that all people are sinners.  Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

          The third thing a person should know is that sin must be paid for.  Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

          The fourth thing a person should know is that Jesus paid for our sins.  Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

          The fifth thing a person should know is that you must trust Jesus as your Savior.  Romans 10:13 tells us, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

          If you want to add a sixth thing…make it an apology for not sharing the Gospel earlier with the person you’re talking to.

Contact Us
The Church on Thistle Ridge
Bible Search