Fear and faith — complimentary or contradictory?

Len Kok
Pastor Len Kok.

In the world fear and faith are mutually exclusive as the one weakens the other, however, in Spirit fear and faith are connected and strengthen each other as God is Spirit, He is the All-and-All-in-All of our faith and we experience Him in fear and trembling.

When speaking about fear in the world, as opposed to in the Spirit, it is mostly destructive to our health and development, and also takes our focus off Jesus Christ undermining our rest, peace, and security, triggering anxiety.

According to Pastor Len Kok, who is also a practising psychologist, fear is sometimes there to protect us (like the fear of putting your hand in the fire) and sometimes it is there to our detriment, because there are debilitating, crippling fears.

He says fear normally enters people’s lives through trauma or bad past experiences.

“Even highly successful people are often motivated and driven by fear – the fear of failure and the fear of lack, for example.

“On the other end of the continuum we find faith; and usually where fear is found, in that area of one’s life there is a lack of faith,” says Kok.

Fear of death
He says all fear is birthed in the fear of death.

“Those who have not yet come into relationship with God by salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ, and received eternal life, live in fear of physical death.

“But the fear of physical death is only one kind of death.

“We can have a fear of: financial death, which is a huge stress in today’s world; death of a relationship; death of your career; or death of personhood, being humiliated.

“People don’t always see that everything is linked to a fear of death, which is far more wide ranging than physical death,” explains Kok.

However, we can turn fear around to build our faith, if every time we are fearful we hand our fears over to Jesus, for He has overcome all that is in the world, even death.

We can use our fears to grow our faith, if every time we fear we use it to remember to re-focus on Jesus by placing the fear, gratefully, at His feet, trusting that through Jesus we will overcome that which we feared.

Growing faith
In the handing over of our fear to Jesus our faith grows: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:4-5).

Unfortunately, our faith is often so frail, fragile and feeble that our focus, if you are anything like me, is all too seldom on our Lord. Yet, in remembering to re-focus and rely on Jesus to resolve our fears our faith will grow.

Conversely, it is when our focus is on ourselves, our circumstances and our problems in the world that we are open to our fears being magnified.

But all fear is not bad, for the Bible tells us that the ‘fear of God is the beginning of wisdom’ (Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10).

As Acts 17:11 Bible Studies puts it, “the fear of the Lord may be the beginning of wisdom, but the end is love”.

“Love is our hope, our goal, our sure destiny as believers. If we are obedient, we will get close to it while still in this world. In the meantime, we fear now, because none of us is yet without sin or perfect in love”.

In Matthew 10:28 Jesus told His disciples: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”.

Perfect love casts out fear
A disciple of Jesus need not fear anything but the Lord God Almighty and when we have come to a perfect wisdom of Him then we will be in a position to know experientially that: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” 1 John 4:18.

This is emphasised by AllAboutGOD.com: “The good news is that the fear of God is only the beginning of understanding. We’ve got to read the rest of the story! In fact, the great news is that the Love of God reflected through Jesus Christ in the New Testament scriptures has the power to cast out this fear and set us free”!

“How can we comprehend the utterly Great News of Jesus Christ if we don’t first appreciate the fear of God? Without total awe, wonder, terror, dread, reverence, and respect for a perfectly holy, righteous, and just Creator, can we truly appreciate what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did for us on Calvary’s cross?”

Kok says the problem is that many believers know Jesus as their Saviour, but not as the All Sufficient One in Whom every aspect of their being resides, for they were reborn through Him into His DNA as a child of God.

“In the areas that they don’t know Him they fall back onto being dependent on themselves (protecting themselves, providing for themselves) that produces stress and fear.

Encounters with God
“Ultimately, the more we get to know God for who He is and have encounters with Him, the more He will tell us who He is and who we are, and the more we will discover behind it all is His infinite love for us in every aspect of life.

“The more we are aware of that love the more fear is cast out of our life.

“The more we know God as our Father and his love for us, the more we relinquish self-control to Him, place our faith and trust in Him, and grow in His grace, which goes hand-in-hand with the absence of fear and the existence of the peace of God that surpasses all understanding,” says Kok.

So, while fear and faith are disconnected in our life in the world, fear and faith are intimately connected in our life in the Spirit and ultimately reconciled through the love of God.

However, as we are still in the world, almost like toddlers trying to stand-up and walk in the Spirit, it is faith in Jesus and the fear of God that will determine how we learn to progress from that hesitant tottering to running our race in freedom and in joy, together with — not against our brothers and sisters in Christ, to the finishing line of His perfect love.


  1. Colleen Foster

    Alf James, bless you for this article. I am fighting such a battle on so many fronts and though the Lord Himself taught me not to fear and I was able to do so, through constant repition of Scripture and praise in the past when I went through many severe chaĺlenges, I have been failing this time.I have been through extreme trauma in the past three years and have really struggled with the fear and faith issue. So thank you for writing this just for me!!

  2. Thank you Colleen,
    “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. (Philipians 4:6-7).
    We serve a wonderful, marvellous, glorious Father God, who loves us, who cares for us, in Whom we can rest, be restored and reassured in worship, fellowship and prayer – we are blessed – thanks again Colleen.