Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Mother Phobia of All Phobias Conquered in Christ

Speaking of the implications of Christ's victory in the cross over Satan, Sinclair Ferguson discusses these under four headings: theology, doxology, ministry, and missiology. Under the rubric of ministry, he says this about the significance of Heb. 2:14-15 for pastoral counseling:
The thesis of the author is that through the fear of death men and women are subject to lifelong bondage. Our deepest fear, the fear of death, is a mother phobia which gives birth to all the phobias of life. "An overdose of fear," writes Calvin, with insight, "comes from ignorance of the grace of Christ." The angst of man, and many of the spiritual neuroses of our day, must therefore be analyzed in these terms as aspects and symptoms of bondage to Satan, or as aspects of his malevolent efforts to hinder Christian believers and to rob them of their joy in Christ. The ministry of the Word, and the work done confidentially in pastoral counseling, must accordingly be sensitive to this whole dimension of Christian life and warfare, and provide "precious remedies against Satan's devices."
Christ is not offered to us in the gospel as a panacea for our fears. But he is a deliverer from that bondage to Satan which engenders the fear of death and gives rise to all manner of other fears. Pastoral counseling must always therefore have the one great fear in view, and Jesus Christ the deliverer as the divinely appointed remedy. We need to appreciate at the deepest level the fact that the words "fear not" were so frequently on his lips.  
—Sinclair Ferguson, "Christus Victor et Propitiator," in For the Fame of God's Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 187.

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