February 09, 2023

If I’m Fearful, Does That Mean I Don’t Believe in God?

Nathan W. Bingham & Steven Lawson
If I’m Fearful, Does That Mean I Don’t Believe in God?

At one time or another, we’ve all experienced fear. How should Christians respond when we become afraid? Today, Steven Lawson exhorts us to keep our eyes fixed on our sovereign Lord amid the storms of life.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: We’re joined today by Dr. Steven Lawson, the founder of OnePassion Ministries. He’s also a Ligonier teaching fellow. Dr. Lawson, if we experience fear in our lives, does that mean we’re not saved?

DR. STEVEN LAWSON: That’s a great question. And to be a believer in God really means that you’re a believer in Jesus Christ and that you know God and that you know Christ. And so, the question is, Can a true believer in Jesus Christ ever be fearful? And the answer, of course, is yes.

I think of Peter, for example, with the storm that night on the Sea of Galilee, and the disciples were terrified. And Jesus came walking on water to them, and Peter said, “Lord, let me come to You.” And Jesus said, “Then get out of the boat and come.” And Peter started walking on water. That’s pretty good. But he began to look at the waves that were crashing all around him, and as he took his eyes off of Christ and onto the waves, he began to sink. And he just cried out one of the greatest short prayers that’s ever been prayed, “Save me.” And the Lord raised him up, and the next second, they’re back in the boat.

Peter was a true follower of Christ. Peter had left his nets behind. He had denied himself and taken up a cross and was a follower of Christ. Peter was the lead disciple and would become the lead Apostle, and yet he became fearful. And that tells us that a true Christian can become fearful, and the reason is because we take our eyes off of the Lord. Our eyes are off of His sovereignty and His authority and His power and His wisdom, even in using the storms of life for greater purposes. And when we take our eyes off of the Lord, then we begin to sink. The Lord’s never going to let us drown. The Lord was right there for Peter and lifted him up. And so, can a believer in Jesus Christ, a true believer in the one true God, can he ever become fearful? And the answer is, of course.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, and he had to tell them: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6–7). The mere fact that he has to say to them, “Be anxious for nothing,” clearly indicates that they could be—and were—anxious about certain things, and that they needed to learn how to commit it to the Lord in prayer. And if they would bring it to the Lord in prayer and, in essence, transfer that burden from their own shoulders into the Lord’s hands, then the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, would fill and flood their heart.

So, just those two verses alone, and there are countless other verses to which we could turn that teach us the very same thing, that a believer in Christ and in God can become fearful. In fact, I would say, at some point and at multiple points, every believer has become fearful, but the Lord upholds us, and the Lord reassures us, and the Lord brings His peace to our troubled hearts when we bring it to Him in prayer.