I've been doing a book study with a friend the past few weeks. We've been reading Ed Welch's Running Scared, which deals with fear and anxiety. We all have fears, don't we? Welch is quick to point out as the book opens that everyone has fears, and fears only become more frequent as we grow from childhood to adulthood. It's part of living in a fallen world. The thing is not to give into the fears, but trust God despite our fears. That, of course, is easier said than done at times.
This past week, we read about the most frequent command in Scripture: "Do not be afraid." I think looking through the entire bible for that phrase would be an excellent study.
Our fears want to be in control. They want to be the boss, as Welch says. Fears escalate. Fears cause us to run to someone. Think of children, who, when they fear, run to a comforting parent. But to whom do we run? We should run to God above all, because people are fallible, and deep down we know that. As Welch says, "Fear calls out for a person bigger than ourselves."
The doctrine of God's sovereignty ought to comfort us, because that is what tells us that God is bigger than we are. God is the one who is control, not us. He is in control of the salvation of men and women. There is nothing we can do to merit salvation. It's all of God. John 15:16 reminds us that God chose us; we did not choose him.
Having a big God is crucial in moments of fear and anxiety. If we believe that salvation is a relationship whereby we must bring something to the table in order to be forgiven, how big is our God? If Christ's sacrifice on the cross only rendered the world "savable," is not the logical conclusion that we must do something in order to complete that action? The idea that we must "do" something only contributes to fears that we already have.
I've been reading Hebrews this summer as I prepare to teach it. I noticed in chapters 9 and 10 the phrase "once for all" is used a few times. The writer of Hebrews points out that the Old Testament sacrifices were inferior to the sacrifice of Christ because they were only shadows. Christ is the mediator of a new and better covenant. He is a new and better sacrifice because he is the sacrifice.
When Christ sacrified himself, it was "once for all," (Heb. 9:26). If that transaction isn't complete until people place their faith in it, how can it be "once for all?" I'm just sorting through these things; I don't actually have any definitive answers. That phrase, that Christ rendered the world, "savable," is one I have heard, and I've always had pause to think about it. If Christ's work is not finished until we believe, then is it any wonder we feel anxiety and fear?
While we struggle with fear and anxiety, as we all do at some point in our lives, having a big God is crucial.