Fearless in Preaching God’s Disclosed Secrets
NOT without good reason did Jesus Christ command his apostles when sending them forth to preach: “Do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”—Matt. 10:28.*
That admonition implied that in going out to preach they would meet up with persecution. But why? Was not the message that they were to bring, “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near,” good news? It was indeed. It consisted of God’s secrets that Jesus disclosed in the darkness, as it were, and which they were to tell in the light; the good news he had whispered in their ears, so to speak, they were to preach from the house-tops.—Matt. 10:7, 27.
Why would anyone want to persecute them for bringing good news, and especially when they, at the same time, performed miracles of healing? Why? Because this good news was light, and some preferred darkness to light; because this good news was the truth that set men free, and there were those who profited from keeping others in bondage.—John 3:19; 8:32.
That Jesus had good reason to tell them not to fear those who could kill only the body his disciples learned, at the latest, when Jesus was taken into custody, and all of them abandoned him and fled. And later, when persecution came upon them, when the apostle James was put to death and the apostle Peter was imprisoned, these words no doubt came to their minds.—Matt. 26:56; Acts 12:1-3.
The counsel that Jesus gave back there about not fearing men applies with equal force to us today, for “all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.”—2 Tim. 3:12.
But why not fear men when they can take our lives? For one thing, because they are mortal. As Jehovah reminded his ancient witnesses: “Who are you that you should be afraid of a mortal man that will die? . . . And that you should forget Jehovah your Maker?” Yes, persecutors may be here today, but they are gone tomorrow, dead and buried. Where today are those bitter persecutors of Jehovah’s people, such as Hitler, Stalin and Trujillo?—Isa. 51:12, 13.
But the chief reason for not fearing man is, as Jesus pointed out, that man can kill only the body, not the soul, whereas God “can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” More important than this life is our hope of everlasting life in the future, which, if men kill us while we are faithfully serving Jehovah, is made available to us by a resurrection. Men cannot prevent God from resurrecting us in his due time.—1 Cor. 15:58.
There is, however, One whom we should fear, namely, Jehovah God. If we displease him by yielding to fear of man and prove unfaithful, we may live a few years longer now, but then when we die, that will be finis as far as we are concerned. By proving faithful, we are assured of a resurrection in God’s due time—Rev. 2:10.
So let all dedicated Christian ministers fear Jehovah God, imitating his greatest Preacher, Jesus Christ, who showed no fear. Fearlessly keep preaching God’s disclosed secrets, warning people to flee from Babylon the Great before it is too late, and telling them also of the blessings in store for such obedient ones in Jehovah’s new system of things.
For details see The Watchtower, December 15, 1964.