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Author: Ron Graham

Hard to Hear God

The Hearing of Faith
—Romans 10:16-18, Galatians 3:2,5

Faith is essential to salvation. But hearing God’s word is essential to faith. You cannot just make up your own personal faith and truth from the thoughts you collect and the opinions you form. God’s word must be conveyed to you from the inspired writings of the apostles of Christ who preached that word. (Romans 10:16-18).

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Romans 10:16-18

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our report?' 17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: 'Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.'(Romans 10:16-18 NKJV).

Galatians 3:2,5

2Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:2 NKJV).

5Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:5 NKJV).

1 The Voice of God

Any preacher today must teach from the word of Scripture and no other authority. You cannot just let some still small voice, some “gut feeling” or some imagined “revelation” be your guide. The only voice of God today is in the Scriptures. You cannot be saved without faith. You cannot have faith without hearing God’s word. You cannot hear God’s word without a preacher. (Romans 10:14-17).

Of course that preacher might not be a preacher of today, but could well be one of the apostles and prophets who wrote the Bible books. They don't preach in person anymore, but their writings still teach us.

Paul said to Timothy, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for teaching..." (2Timothy 3:16). One could say that a preacher’s word today is validated when he teaches from the words of the Bible’s apostles and prophets. That is the voice of God.

Paul's Own Ministry

Paul recognised that the prophets of old were still preaching through their Scriptures and through those who taught from the Scriptures. "2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to [the synagogue], and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.' " (Acts 17:2-3 NKJV).

Paul said of his own writings, " revelation [God] made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)" (see Ephesians 3:1-7).

The Universal Voice

Now Paul quotes David who says, of the heavens that declare the glory of God, "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." (Psalm 19:1-4 ESV).

Paul borrows that message about the heavens and their universal declaration, and he makes it a metaphor of true preachers and their universal declaration of the gospel (Romans 10:18).

2 The Word of Truth

Paul said to the Ephesians, "In [Christ] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise," (Ephesians 1:13 NKJV).

There is no advantage in hearing and believing something that is untrue or that cannot be verified. If our faith is not based in the word of truth revealed in the Scriptures, then our faith is false.

Verified as Truth

At the top of this lesson, there is a quote from Paul to the Galatians in which he mentioned miracles that had been done among them.

Here is a portion of that quote again, "He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3:2,5 NKJV).

These miracles verified the word of truth that they heard and believed. Had they heard and believed words of untruth, there would have been no true miracles to confirm that word (Galatians 3:5).

This does not mean, by the way, that we need ongoing miracles to confirm the Scriptures. The miracles that verified the word of truth in the beginning verified it from that time forward.

A preacher today does not need miracles to confirm his word. He confirms it by showing his agreement with Scripture previously confirmed.

3 The Hearing of Faith

We will finish this lesson by considering what Paul means by "the hearing of faith" (Galatians 3:2,5).

That phrase matches his statement, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17 NKJV).

Earlier Paul has spoken of "the word of faith which we preach" (Romans 10:8 NKJV).

Hearing is a Work

Now an important point about the hearing of faith is that when you listen to a preacher who preaches the gospel, the word of truth, your hearing is an action you take.

This act of listening and hearing is something that you do toward your salvation by faith. It is what is known in religious circles as a "work".

Remember Paul said, "When you read, [my writings] you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ" (Ephesians 3:1-7 NKJV).

One listens to the gospel, gains an understanding of it, and then responds by believing. In that way "faith comes by hearing" (Romans 10:17).

Even if God himself spoke directly to you, there would still be the need to heed the message. You cannot have faith until you stop blocking your ears and carefully hear what God says. You cannot believe and be saved without first hearing the word of truth.

What Kind of Hearing?

When Paul uses the phrase hearing of faith (Galatians 3:2,5), he has in mind a hearing that belongs to faith. When one hears the gospel but is cynical, rebellious, dismissive, prejudiced or puffed up, that is not a hearing that belongs to faith and from which faith comes. On the other hand, when one hears the gospel and is interested, reasonable, respectful, honest, and enquiring, that is a hearing by which faith comes.


Webservant Ron Graham

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