Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living One, and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades (Rev. 1:17c, 18; read vv. 1–20).

“Let the visiting minister tell us how to conquer our fears.” At one of our largest and most representative of colleges so responded a majority of the students to a questionnaire concerning what they wished to hear during special services twice daily for a week. Hence one of the sermons had to do with our Lord’s noblest saying on the subject, as it concerns three issues ever supreme. Today he bids us be—

I. Unafraid of Life. Think of its responsibilities. Often you ask yourself: “Can I make good?” Even Moses trembled before his mighty responsibilities. And Paul cried out: “Who is sufficient for these things?” Once when in a despondent frame a man attempted to snuff out the candle of life. After he was prevented, I asked him why he had attempted to end it all. He answered: “Because I was afraid to go on with life.”

People are afraid, for one thing, because they feel dependent: dependent upon God, and upon one another. Also, because they stand in the presence of vast mysteries, especially sin and sorrow. But Jesus comes to us who believe and says to us, one by one: “Do not be afraid of life. I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”

II. Unafraid of Death. Here our Lord reminds us: “I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore.” He is ever with his people now, especially when they come to die. With joy John Wesley declared: “Our people die well.” They were unafraid and triumphant. Week by week the pastors of our churches witness triumphs of faith over death. Hence they are able victoriously to exclaim with Paul: “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

III. Unafraid of Eternity. Here Christ says: “I have the keys of death and Hades.” That word “keys” shows his authority, his guidance, his control. Just as he has cared for his people in life and in death, so will he prepare for you in eternity. “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.”

Are you trusting in Christ as your personal Saviour? Do you gladly bow to him as your rightful Master? If your heart answers “Yes,” go your way without hesitation or fear. Your personal relation to Christ will determine your relation to life, death, and eternity. He is our Saviour, our promised and infallible Guide, even unto death, and throughout the vast beyond, forever. Well do we often sing: “He leadeth me.” As we sing it now, who wishes openly to confess him and follow him?

From Follow Thou Me (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1932).

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