Evangelism Through Fear?
by Fred Pruitt
(Originally published under another title, “A Prodigal Returns Part Two.” The other title emphasized these truths differently, but this new title puts these truths in a different light. Fear is such an issue with so many, I thought it good to republish with this different emphasis.)
From a friend:
Thank you so much Fred, there are many powerful truths to your way of seeing it! I agree with all of what you said, however, my biggest concern now is that I don’t seem to have the fire to want to witness because of my fear of man and what others think of me. Shouldn’t that desire be there, causing me to want to share his salvation to the world? I don’t have any trouble sharing if someone asks me a question regarding the Lord but that is so rare. My life doesn’t bear the fruit of the spirit, ( at least, not at my place of work) so as to draw others to me in order to witness. Jesus said if anyone is ashamed of me and my words that He would be ashamed of him when He comes into the Father’s glory. It scares me that the great command we were commissioned to do, I am failing him. Can we lose our salvation because of this?
I am really glad you wrote me. I am glad that you see a little bit of what I wrote you.
Now let me tell you what I think about your predicament you have written about, when you said you are afraid of being cast out if you aren’t out evangelizing.
Sometimes it takes an observer to point out to us something we are not seeing about ourselves. I don’t think you realize the bondage of fear you are writing from. This “fear” seems to be uppermost in your mind, and knowing fear as I do (since I’ve had quite a bit of experience with it myself), it tends to escalate and get worse, not better.
Where is this fear coming from? Do you think being so scared of losing your salvation as a motivation to “good works” is truly from the Lord? Is God that kind of Master? Do you think the Lord wants you out there working His work, cowering in fear yourself, doing it because of that fear, all while you are attempting to draw people into the grace of God? Can you see the contradiction here?
What life would you be inviting people into by witnessing to them? Would you not tend to spread the same fear that has so overtaken you? I’m speaking from personal experience, as I said above. For a time I lived overcome with fear. I could not break it; it seemed to rule everything, not just my “spiritual” life. And I asked myself the same question I’m asking you during my time with fear. I asked, “Why would I want to bring anybody else into this misery?”
My spiritual life, which really means the whole of my life, was stuck in fear from which I could not escape. I “tried” not to fear. Of course that didn’t work. I prayed, got people to pray for me, etc. Still it persisted.
I quoted scriptures, especially 1 Jn 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
There it is, in plain language. I would quote it, stand on it, and wait for a deliverance from fear. Still it persisted.
Now let me tell you, as “miserable” as I was during those days, I am thankful for them. Because it was not the Lord’s intent to leave me there! Instead, as I have come to know since then, it was the Lord’s intent that in my “walking in the valley of the shadow of death,” I would find the True Shepherd of my soul and spirit, no longer knowing an outer Jesus separate from us, but would find an “upholding” underneath me (when I had exhausted all my own strength and had no more strength left to go on), that I had not known was there.
You see, we all go through these negative times. For you it is fear. Others face different issues. It doesn’t really matter whose “fault” it is, whether something from without heaped onto us by circumstance, man or devil, or something inward in us that is “blocking” the fullness of our understanding for which we might blame ourselves. None of that matters. The Lord is not looking for someone to blame, or, if He was, He’d say, “Blame me, the buck stops here!”
What matters is what the Lord is doing, and His planned “end” (of this issue) for you is to build you up and show you not only Who He is, in you, but also who you are, in Him. It is glory you have yet to see, but you are at the brink and will soon see it.
This “evangelism” thing, and whether you have the proper urgency to “save souls,” etc., is not really the issue before you. Jesus plainly said, “Seek first the kingdom.” In other words, get that straight, and all the rest will fall into place.
And the answer is right there in 1 John, just before the “fear” passages:
“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 Jn 4:14-17).
The passages talking about fear come immediately after the above. The key to it all is the last phrase above. “Because as He is, so are WE in this world.” The phrase starts with “because.” It is saying that BECAUSE it is the truth that as He is, so are WE in this world, BECAUSE of that, we may have BOLDNESS in the day of judgment!!!
Why? How can we possibly have this “boldness” before the Living God??? Because we are not trusting in our own righteousness, or our own works, or any other thing about ourselves. If we place our trust in those things, we can only fear, because we cannot produce works of righteousness. You mentioned that you were not showing the “fruit of the Spirit” where you work. Do you realize it is not “your” fruit? It is the Spirit’s fruit, and, since it is His and not “yours,” it is His job to bear His own fruit. When we “try” to manifest the fruit of the Spirit, it comes out stunted and incomplete, because it is not ours to “act like.” Ours is to “be,” not to play-act. Man has his ideas as to what the “fruit of the Spirit” should look like, and we mostly go by that, and “try to act like that.” But God has different ways from us, and we learn to relax in Him and let Him manifest the fruit as He pleases.
Likewise, we are not accepted nor rejected by the Lord on the basis of our “works.” Those who come to Him give up their own righteousness, as non-existent, and trust only in God through Jesus Christ, and receive His imputed righteousness as our daily walk. We are righteous as He is righteous. Without Him I can do nothing! So said Jesus of the Father. If the Son of God/Son of Man could “do nothing of Himself,” what do you think we can do?
I was going for this in the first email I sent you, that you might see that, “because as He is, so are you in this world.” This is your and my central truth, and the central truth of all of us who are His. We are not just our separate human selves, trying to produce God’s life, which is an impossibility, but we are He in us, and He has said He works the works in us (1 Thes 5:24). We have His mind (1 Cor 2:16). He has made Himself one with you (1 Cor 6:17; Jn 17:11, 20-23). He has forgiven all your sins from the Eternal. He has made you accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:5). He says you are complete in Him (Col 2:10). He says you are beloved and many many more wonderful things. He says that when you are walking around in the world it is He walking around in the world in and AS you!
The whole key is here. And it is “enacted,” you might say, by our faith, or acceptance and agreement with, the truth God has told us. You have no ability to do anything except receive. God does the rest (and He even does that in us, since it says, “No man can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” The confession is in a very great sense, the proof of itself.)
Forget all that fear. That’s not the Lord. His intent is to lift you up, to say, “Friend, come up higher.”
What did David say in the dark valley?
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
Brother, this is you! This is your life in the Lord! Read it and believe it!
First things first! Find Him in you. Find the liberty of His grace, and be done with the bondage of fear, since it is no longer who you are. And the only way to “find” is through faith, which is not “mental belief” as much as it is simple agreement with the Lord, just as Abraham believed God, and God counted Abraham’s faith as true righteousness. And that is the righteousness you want, and that you ARE, because He is the righteousness within you.
You might say something like, “Lord, I cannot do anything about this fear. But I trust you, and I know now that you are one person with me, and the life I am now living in the world is you living it, in the world as me. I do not understand it but I accept it because You have said it.”
Or something like that. It makes your faith “concrete” to verbalize it – it gives it its solidity to speak from the mouth what God has shown you in your heart. (Rom 10:9,10).
Find your rest and peace there, and then the works will flow in ease and right loving desire, free from fear. But we can talk more about the “work” later. I think for right now, let God show you His rest.
In infinite love,