By Al Sandlin
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). This adjective comes from a Greek word deilos which means “cowardly; timid.” Lack of faith is the basis for this transgression as it is cited in Revelation 21:8.
In Matthew 8:26 this word also appears. The disciples along with Jesus had entered a ship to cross the Sea of Galilee. During that journey a tremendous storm arose and the waves were so severe as to cover the ship. This caused no small degree of anxiety among the disciples but Jesus was asleep during it all. They aroused him with a message of doom: “Lord, save us: we perish.” Jesus’ response included our word under consideration. “Why are ye fearful, 0 ye of little faith?”
Just why, do you suppose, will the fearful not be allowed in heaven? Why would a loving Heavenly Father refuse the timid and the cowardly person an eternal home in heaven? For the precise reason that Jesus berated his beloved apostles’ lack of faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). With Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Saviour of mankind, in the ship with his disciples, they doubted their own safety and security. But on the other hand, Jesus was sound asleep, not concerned for he knew that the Father would care for him. Jesus set the example for our faith. Our faith in God must be so thorough and so grounded that it raises our confidence and trust in the Father above the level of the cowardly and timid. Whether physical or spiritual storms, our faith must be such that total and complete trust in God clothes our character. God demands that kind of faith. If we are Christians and abide in Christ, we must indeed follow in the footprints of Jesus. 1 John 2:6 says it this way, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” We must aspire to have the faith of Jesus. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me … ” Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” 1 Peter 2:21 says, “For hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”
The fearful, the timid, the cowardly, put their faith only in that which they can see. Paul says to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We must not, we cannot, be fainthearted and mousy with the gospel he has given us. It is powerful, it is reasonable, it is the only way to save souls. Paul intended to encourage the young preacher Timothy to be bold in the gospel. Not only has God given us a gospel filled with power, but his love is ours. We are the objects of his love. Just as husbands and wives reassure each other of their love regularly, God does so with us daily. First of all, he gave us his Son as a propitiation for our sins. Then, daily he gives us sustenance. Daily he blesses us with sunshine, rain, food, clothing, shelter, brethren, and on and on the list goes. We have no basis for being wimpish in our faith. We have every reason to put our complete trust in him to the extent that we are confident that he will not leave us or forsake us.
Deiliao (to be fearful) appears in John 14:27. Just prior to his trial and crucifixion, Jesus said to his closest friends upon the earth, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” In the tenderest of moments, if it were possible, Jesus would have wrapped his loving arms around this dozen men to let them know that there was nothing to fear. In spite of what they were about to see their Master undergo, there was still no reason to be shy, timid, or fainthearted. Jesus is telling them these things in advance so that they might believe (John 14:29). May our prayer be according to the apostles in Luke 17:5, “Lord, Increase our faith.” The Psalmist spoke words of comfort concerning fearfulness in Psalm 27:1-3, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.”
Confidence is the perfect antidote for timidity and shyness. God has always intended that his messengers go forth with confidence. Luke says of Paul in Acts 28:31, “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”
May God increase our faith and give us the confidence and conviction to meet Satan head on with the gospel. “Lord, increase our faith.”
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 21, p. 24-25
November 2, 1995