Letters to Malcolm (Fear and Anxiety)

Date: 3/8/2009
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Topic: Anxiety
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Dear Malcolm,
Do you feel that you are in a dangerous context or is there any armed conflict around? I don't have a sense of what it’s like there, though I do see your assault rifle in the photo! ¶ I have been dealing with anxieties and counseling others about anxiety and fear. On fear, the Lord has given me an insight recently. Basically, “in Christ” and in conscious fellowship with Him, Christians have no true reason to fear death, or even a painful one - torture, burning, disease, affliction, "dark providences" - etc. God is in control of all these things and uses them to make us more like Jesus (Rom. 8:28-29). However, the devil though now disarmed - E.g., no assault rifles in their photos, since the cross (Col. 2) - is still able to say, "BOO!" (as in Boo! Be scared). The Darkness can still say: “Be afraid, fear, have anxiety, worry about the painful death that [we demonic hoard] can put you through, worry about the loss if we kill you or your family members...” In so many ways all of us hear each of these "BOOs!" and are tempted by them to actually believe the lie and to disbelieve that the Cross/Resurrection changed the standing of the powers of Darkness, especially their "legal right" to men's souls, to harm them, kill them, etc. Here's the Greek of three verses you can work on translating:

(Rev. 1:18: “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.)

(2 Tim. 1:10: “...our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”)

(Heb. 2:14: “He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”)

¶ But for believers - What actually happens at a "premature" death is what God actually does to all Christians throughout a life of faithful, grace-dependent “normal” life (Heb. 12:11-14).

Hebrews 12:11-14 NASB - All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 12:12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 12:13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

We must lose ourselves to find our selves (Mark 8:35).

Mark 8:34-37 NASB - And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 8:35 “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. 8:36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 8:37 “For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

God either says to His children - “Stay there and give a pint of blood each day by loving your wife, spanking your children, forgiving someone, using your gifts . . . . give a pint of blood each day;” or He gives us an “immediate” out, the Beast will cut off your head (St. Paul)/crucify you (St. Peter) or unbelieving Israel will crush you with stones (St. Stephen in Acts 7:58).

¶ Now, any faithful Christian who understands these verses and sees the choice of the “long-martyrdom” or “short-martyrdom” - looks very differently on the possibility of the “short-martyrdom.” And all slain martyrs will be resurrected in bodies (embodied) and immediately at death, they reign with Christ (Rev. 20). 

Revelation 20:3-4 NASB - 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

¶ Therefore, anxieties and worries about what we will lose or about a future pain (which may not actually happen anyway) are just a kind of unbelief, very understandable, but just a subtle denial of the reality of the Resurrection. “Do not be afraid...behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” So, Mac, be bold and strong for the Lord is with you. Be fearless in discharging your duty. Remember Heidelberg Catechism Q. 1.

1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?

A. That I am not my own,[1] but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death,[2] to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.[3] He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.[5] He also preserves me in such a way[6] that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall fr
Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more