Wednesday, 25 September 2013
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17
Romans 10:17 is another verse which should be committed to memory. It is simple, concise, and carries with it a most important message.
“So then” is a summary statement. In essence, “These things can be summed up as follows…” For a complete perspective on this verse, it would be wise to take a moment to go back and read Romans 10:1-16. By doing so it will help in understanding this important point Paul will now state.
“Faith comes by hearing…” Faith, in this context, is speaking of the properly directed faith of the gospel message. Many have faith, but not all have the right faith. People hear the words of Buddha and have faith in those words, but this isn’t the true faith that Paul speaks of. Such is the case with countless misdirected belief systems which have been instituted by man. People exercise faith all the time and they do so without considering the error of the message. Even within supposed Christian denominations, error abounds. Bowing to a statue of Mary is contrary to the truthful message of God.
Even more to the point is that when the message is correct, it may not be received as such. Faith does come by hearing, but this doesn’t imply that faith will come by hearing. Rather, it means that faith can only come by hearing. Many hear; not all accept. This is the intent and meaning of Jesus’ parable concerning the sower and the seeds in Matthew 13:1-9. The correct message has been given by the Sower, but it may not be received as such, or it may be understood, but not sink in to become heart knowledge. Thus any accompanying confession is not a true profession.
When the proper message is given, when it is received, and when it is believed – then it is the “faith” Paul speaks of here. In what is one of the most egregious errors of understanding the process of exercising faith, we read this almost bizarre analysis of it from Tabletalk magazine’s daily devotional dated 17 September 2013 – “Dr. RC Sproul has said that the biblical doctrine of salvation can be summed up effectively in three words: regeneration precedes faith.”
This is so out of line with what the Bible teaches that it is almost unimaginable to consider how it was ever introduced into the doctrine of soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). In fact, salvation can be summed up in a single sentence, but it has nothing to do with “regeneration preceding faith.” It is explicitly stated in Jonah 2:9 in only two Hebrew words – yeshuatah Y’hovah, “Salvation is of the Lord.” From this thought, Paul explains that this means faith in the Lord; an acceptance of His provision.
Faith in the Lord brings salvation; faith in the Lord comes by hearing about the Lord; and hearing about the Lord comes “by the word of God.” Jonah learned this in the belly of the great fish. The very nature of the process indicates that this is a volitional act of the free-will. Inserting “regeneration” prior to “faith” as is noted above, is inserting a concept foreign to the clearly presented message of the Bible. Man must hear and then man must respond. To be “regenerated” prior to faith would imply that man is saved before he is saved, and it would be universal in its scope. If not universal, then God’s regenerative process would be ineffective for some. This particular teaching is taught in seminaries under the course subject “Convoluted Theology 101.”
Rather, for there to be a recipient of a message, there must be a source of what is relayed. The term “word of God” is used approximately 50 times in the Bible to describe its contents. It is the word which issues directly from God and which is breathed out to men of God (2 Timothy 3:16) as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This message, which Jesus argued over even to a single word – such as in John 10:35, is the complete, accurate, and fully sufficient source of bringing faith to the individual.
It is this “word of God” which when heard will bring faith to the one who accepts it for what it is. Jesus explains the process in Luke 11:28 –
“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Neither Jesus here, nor the apostles later, ever state that we are regenerated in order to obey or believe the word. It is, as noted, a volitional act of the free-will.
Life application: Go back, read, and memorize Romans 10:17 and then accept it at face value. Such simple and concise statements need nothing inserted for clarification. Read the word, and then exercise your faith in that same word.
Lord, if the thoughts of my head at night cause me to lose sleep, I want them to be thoughts meditating on Your word. If I am troubled in my soul, O God, let it be troubled hopes of understanding Your word more fully. And should I hunger, may my hunger be to know Your word more. Then Lord, sort my thoughts out aright, clarify my understanding, and fill my soul to overflowing with my desired knowledge of Your word. Amen.