Do Not Fear

By Pastor Teck Uy

Before Jesus came, the Israelites were living under the law – the Law of Moses. Under this law, every sin or transgression had to be dealt with severely. However, in his mercy, God prescribed a way out by instituting the sacrificial system. For sin to be atoned, the transgressor needed to offer some sacrifices to God. They had the burnt offering, sin offering, guilt offering, grain offering and the like. But while these offerings were available to the Israelites, they were not able to completely cleanse them from their sins because of their sinful nature. In his epistle, the apostle James emphasized this saying, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). Therefore, fear dominated the hearts of people then. Because all have sinned, no one can be assured of salvation through the law.

Because of the hopelessness of man living under the law, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from sin. The apostle John appropriately described this scenario when he said, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:17-18). Indeed, the salvation that the law cannot provide, God provided through his manifold grace that was in Christ Jesus. No wonder the angel’s message to the shepherd when he announced the birth of Jesus was, “Do not fear. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

This salvation that came through Jesus Christ is by grace. But what is grace? We often define grace as the unmerited favour of God. However, when it comes to our salvation, grace is defined as “the desire and the power to do God’s will.” This is lifted from the very words of the apostle Paul when he said, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:12-13). Since we are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have to let our faith work even as we live holy and blameless lives in this wicked and perverse generation. Our confidence in being able to work out our salvation is the Lord Jesus himself who is with us.
Jesus came not only to bring salvation to a perishing world but to reveal the Father. Because many, including some of the disciples, would like to see the Father before they put their trust in him, Jesus said “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father . . . Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? . . . Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves” (John 14:9-11). Jesus further explained, “No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father” (John 6:46). Even Moses who was considered a friend of God was not able to see the fullness of the glory of God. In his years of interacting with God, Moses was able to see only portion of God’s glory. When Moses asked to see the glory of God, God responded, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live. There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen” (Exodus 33:20-23). For now, it is enough that we have an idea of the image of God through what Jesus revealed, but a time will come when we shall see him face to face.

When Isaiah prophesied about the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, he said, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). The coming of Jesus is the good news that we are all waiting for. In the midst of this troubled world, we have God with us. And if God is with us, who can be against us? Therefore, this truth about God being with us should further strengthen our faith and allow us to look into the future with joy. This is the good news that the angel proclaimed hence, we should not fear. To those who do not believe this good news, the future will be bleak and full of uncertainties. But to us who believes, the future is bright and we can look forward to it with much expectations. Therefore, do not fear. Hallelujah!