Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, has revealed why the phrase "Fear not" is one of the most important messages God gives his people in the Bible.
In a recent devotional, Warren explained that the Bible includes staggering 365 messages through Genesis to Revelation telling Christians not to be afraid.
"It's interesting to note that there are 365 verses in the Bible that say, 'Fear not.' God provided us with one 'Fear not' message for every day of the year!" Warren wrote. "It's interesting that almost every time God talks to someone in the Bible, the first thing he says is, 'Don't be afraid!'"
The 61-year-old megachurch pastor argued that God spends so much time in the Bible telling people not to have fear "because our hurts and hang-ups can often cause us to think that God is out to get us, that all he wants to do is condemn us and punish us."
"But that simply isn't true. Jesus is the proof of that," he continued. "God's promise is that, even in your darkest valleys, he is walking beside you.
When one truly understands God's grace and mercy, then we have no need to fear the future, Warren concluded.
"God isn't trying to get even with you," he emphasized. "Jesus has taken the penalty for everything you've ever done wrong or will do wrong. He paid for it on the cross. So when a bad thing happens, you don't have to think, 'God's getting even with me.'"
In an earlier devotional post, the "Purpose Driven Life" author argued that doubt and fear can affect even the strongest of Christians as they face the pressures of real life.
"Doubt and fear neutralize what God wants to do in your life. It takes courage to imagine. Do you know why most people don't imagine? Because they're afraid of failure," Warren wrote.
With doubt comes fear -- which is the enemy of a healthy relationship with Christ. However, God allows his people to choose whether their imagination is going to be governed by fear or by faith.
"If you let your imagination be governed by fear, you're going to go around being freaked out, stressed out, and worried all the time," Warren explained. "When you allow fear to control your imagination, you live a miserable life."
"Instead, decide that you're not going to allow fear to dominate," he wrote. "Let your faith dominate. Trust in God. Then you can move forward in faith and allow your imagination to be filled with all kinds of possibilities, because all things are possible with God."
Another influential pastor, the Rev. Billy Graham, previously shared his thoughts on the topic, arguing that God's wish is to see all of his children set free from their emotional and mental burdens.
"The very reason Jesus Christ came to Earth was to offer Himself in sacrifice for our sin so that we might be reconciled to God and experience His kindness and mercy as His dearly loved children. It is His desire that you be completely set free from fears, torment, and oppression so that you might experience His abundant life, (John 10:10)," the evangelical leader wrote in a 2004 post on the BGEA website.
Graham added in a 2014 post that "God doesn't want us to be prisoners of our fears."
"The key is to learn to trust God, no matter what our fears are. And we can trust Him, because He loves us, and He is greater than anything we'll ever face. Furthermore, when we know Christ, we know He is with us every moment of the day, and that should give us comfort," he concluded.