The Atheist’s Psalm Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
The next person to consider is the FEARFUL PERSON.
They are afraid because they are suddenly confronted by God. They were in danger, and therefore, they were afraid. Their conscience condemned them for what they did, and filled them with fear. Many times, the proud and cruel bullies have been made to shake like a leaf when they realize that God punishes those who harm His people. You can be sure that God’s people cannot be attacked without provoking God to action. He will protect His people.
The fearful person when suddenly confronted by God will be convicted by God. Those who persecute God’s children shame God, because the Lord is their refuge. The ungodly mock the godly about the existence of God, and they malign God when they say, “God isn’t present within Christians and the Holy Spirit is only make-believe. Nevertheless, the very same God who the fool claims does not exist, is the refuge for those who put their trust in Him. On the judgment-day, it will add to the terror and confusion of sinners to see God receive His righteous saints, whom they have hated and mocked.
The problem with fear is that it always costs you something. Joseph of Arimathea, lived with fear since he was both a successful businessman and a secret disciple of Jesus. If he was found out, he would lose his standing in the community and his business would dry-up. He hid his faith because of fear, and it cost him dearly.
One thing that fear cost him was the opportunity for fellowship with Jesus. We don’t know for how long Joseph was a secret disciple, but his opportunity for fellowship with Jesus was lost forever. He missed seeing many miracles, hearing many lessons, and sharing many conversations with Jesus. He could have joined Peter and the others as they walked with Jesus. Let me ask, “Is fear keeping you from a closer walk with God?” If it is, there’s a cost that must be paid.
Joseph of Arimathea’s silence could have cost him the assurance of eternal life. There may be room for debate about whether or not a person can have eternal life and be a “secret disciple.” Regardless of what you and I believe about it, surely you will agree with me that a secret disciple can have no real assurance of salvation.
Fear brings only torment, guilt and self-accusation. Joseph must have been ashamed to face himself in the mirror when he considered his cowardly actions toward Christ. How could he have any confidence in his salvation, since that assurance comes with a bold confession of Jesus as Lord? That is what it says in Romans, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
Just saying that Jesus is Lord and believing in the fact of His resurrection is not sufficient for salvation. For with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness. Belief in the saving power of the risen Christ must come from the innermost part of man’s being. This is described as man’s heart. But more than that, with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Confession with the mouth is evidence of genuine faith in the heart. Frequently both our Lord and the Apostle Paul indicate the bringing together of faith and a confession. Confession with the mouth does not bring about the reality of belief in the heart, but it gives evidence of it.
There may be someone who wants to know what happened to Joseph of Arimathea; did he ever reveal that he was a follower of Jesus? I’ll let you make your own mind up about that. This is what Luke had to say in his gospel. “Then a man named Joseph, a member of the Jewish Supreme Court, from the city of Arimathea in Judea, went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He was a godly man who had been expecting the Messiah’s coming and had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other Jewish leaders.” So he took down Jesus’s body and wrapped it in a long linen cloth and laid it in a new, unused tomb hewn into the rock…”
I believe his actions revealed to everyone that he was a disciple of Jesus Christ. He was no longer a fearful person.
The last person is the FAITHFUL PERSON.
Of the twelve men Jesus made apostles, only one was faithful to the end; the apostle John. Why did John stand beneath the cross while the others hid in fear? If we know this we will know the secret of faithfulness.
Could it have been a sense of duty that compelled John to stand beneath the cross? I believe that we would all agree that it is such a sense of duty that helps us to be faithful in hard times. A sense of duty keeps a soldier in his place of danger when others might flee. It keeps a son or daughter faithfully attending to the needs of aging parents. But the real secret of faithfulness goes much deeper than a sense of duty. John gives us a clue to why he was there by the way he identified himself. He calls himself, the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” His presence at the cross was a response to that love. Jesus loved all of the apostles just as much as He loved John, but this man seemed to have a special capacity to receive that love. He had a special awareness of that love. He seemed to know better than the others that Jesus was bound to the cross by His love for them. If Jesus could die on a cross out of love, couldn’t John stand by the cross through the ordeal? Gratitude and love compelled him to do it. This is the secret of Christian faithfulness. It will keep us faithful in our service. It will keep us to remain faithful through all kinds of persecution. It will make survivors out of us. If we waver in our commitment, we need to be renewed by a fresh awareness of how much we are loved by Jesus.
I said I was going to ask a question when we were done. I want to know, “Of which group are you a member? Have you made your allegiance known?”
Today, the problem is not that there are too many atheists; it’s that people are living as if God did not exist.
The problem is that too many Christians are backsliders that have a broken relationship with the Lord. It’s still true today that when people deny the existence of God or live like He doesn’t exist the quality of life will suffer. When a society forgets God then its lifestyle becomes depraved, corrupt and sinful and its people are foolish, filthy and fearful. However, those who faithfully follow Christ are rewarded in this world and the next. Jesus is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. He has proven His love for us, by dying on a cross.
Let’s love Him back, and then let’s show our love for Him by living in a way that honors and glorifies Him.