The man through whom my father came to Christ, evangelist Paul Rader, is perhaps best remembered today for his hymn “Only Believe”:
Fear not, little flock, from the cross to the throne,
From death into life he went for his own;
All power in earth, all power above,
Is given to him for the flock of his love.
Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe;
Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe.
These words echo what Jesus said to the grief-stricken father whose daughter had just died: “Fear not, only believe” (Mark 5:36), and what he said about his own faith to the father of the epileptic son: “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).
That Jesus went from death into life for his people whom he loves comes from Ephesians 1:19–23. There Paul prayed that Christians might grasp the greatness of the power God will employ for those who trust him. Just how great is this power? By it God raised Jesus from the dead and caused him to ascend above all satanic forces to sit at his right hand. Without question, our greatest need is to keep remembering this great power and how God will use it for those who trust him.
Many are the dire tidings which barrage us. For example, articles from a recent Newsweek had such titles as “Is the World Headed for Recession?” and “Escalating MADness: The New Look in Missiles.” (MAD is a Pentagon acronym for “mutual assured destruction.”) An airline commercial on the radio advised us to take that planned-for trip to Europe this past summer, since it will probably cost 11 percent more next year. And then, to drive home how run-away inflation is shrinking the dollar, the commercial tuned the hearer in to a little boy who, at some future time, would be asking his father for five dollars so he could buy an ice cream cone!
But in addition to such global problems as inflation and the arms race, there arise just from within the circle of our own lives’ health problems, family problems, and difficult circumstances at work. Since life brings such anxiety-producing circumstances, we should have no trouble remembering just how great is the power God employs for us who believe, and we should be constantly comforted by those four words of Jesus, “Fear not, only believe.”
Because we are sinners, though, our hearts are not naturally disposed to trust God. So we need to think soberly and keep our minds and hearts filled with what God has taught in Scripture. Then we are able to sense the falsity of the discouraging thoughts by which Satan tries to destroy our faith. One such lie, encountered rather frequently, is that one’s particular problems are so complex that it is too simplistic and naive to be confident that one will triumph just by trusting God and not being afraid. “You can’t help me simply by quoting some verses,” people will often say. (And in times of doubt I have said it myself.)
But sober thinking, illumined by God’s Word, will expose the false reasoning in such an argument. To be sure, the solution to complex problems comes only from highly skilled, dedicated help backed up by great resources. So if faith were just our positive thinking, it could not measure up to the task of bringing us through the tangles of life. But faith is more than just our positive thinking; it is confidence that what God has promised, he will most assuredly do.
“The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial” (2 Peter 2:9). “The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom”—this was Paul’s confidence (2 Timothy 4:18). Since God measures up to the task of saving us from life’s tangles, therefore the simplicity of Jesus’ four words, “Fear not, only believe,” is the foundation upon which to stand.
How comforting it is to remember that “the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death, and keep them alive in famine” (Psalm 33:18–19).
Daniel P. Fuller