Do Not Fear, Only Believe

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

There is a lot of fear for the future of the church. We fear that our numbers are getting smaller, the hairs are getting greyer, the pastors are getting fewer, and the pool of money is thinning. Indeed, there are times when I look at the state of the church today and I can’t help but wonder what will be here for my children to inherit. We fear for a time of persecution that seems to be written on the wall, its just a matter of time. We fear for a steadfast confession of the confession of the church, that the church will hold strong to the faithful confession of that which was handed down from God to the saints. We’re afraid of what the future might bring.

But is there reason to be afraid? Reason to prepare, to repent, to delve ever deeper into the Lord’s Word and promises? Certainly. Reason to run to the Lord’s body and blood as we face a crisis of faith? Without a doubt. But to fear? No. Not at all.

Have you ever noticed that whenever God came to declare His good news, the first thing that He says is always, “Do not fear! Don’t be afraid.” And God always gives a reason too, “For I bring you good new of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10) “For I am with you… for I will be your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:10) “For I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) “For it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) “You are of more worth than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31) “Do not fear, only believe.” (Mark 5:36).

But wait, none of those passages actually talk about the church. True. But still, the principle holds—do not fear. God cares for you. You are of more value than many sparrows. Jesus tells you not to be anxious, your Father knows what you need, and He will provide. Jesus died for you. He gives you His body and blood to eat and drink. He washes you in baptism. He gives you pastors to speak in your ear that you are forgiven of all your sins. If God is going to go to such great lengths to do all this for you, why would you think He’s going to do any less for His church?

After all, the Bible calls the church Christ’s bride, “Then came one of the seven angels… saying, ‘Come I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.” (Revelation 21:8-10) That city is the church. And look at this: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27) The church is Jesus’ bride. And so the church is the Father’s daughter-in-law. Jesus died for her, He made her spotless. He loves her. So the Father loves His daughter-in-law. So God will take care of the church. He is the church’s head, the Son is her husband, and she is the Father’s daughter-in-law.

That means the church already has a Saviour, and its not you, and its not evangelism. It’s Jesus. Only Jesus. He will save her, care for her, guide her. Do we still go and tell of the great news we have been given? Yes, that is part of the vocation God has given us as Christians. But we also do not need to fear when we constantly get stonewalled, when our words fall on deaf ears, and when we speak to concrete walls. He created His church, started it all by calling a pagan from Ur named Abram. He called 12 disciples and often worked in spite of them. God will do the same today. He’ll save His elect, He’ll care for His church and do His work. Do not fear, only believe.

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Tim Schneider