What the Bible says about
Faith comes from Hearing
(From Forerunner Commentary)
The King James Version's and the New King James Version'swording is a bit awkward for our modern ears unless we carefully follow Paul's line of thought from the beginning of the chapter. Isaiah, whom Paul quotes, is saying the faith exists when people hear the message, believe it, and then obey it. Three modern versions help to clarify this:
The Revised English Bible: "So then faith does come from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." This helps to show that this verse is a concluding statement, an appeal to believe the facts and the logical reasoning that preceded it.
The New Testament in Modern English, better known as the "Phillips' Translation": "Belief, you see, can only come from hearing the message, and the message is the word of Christ." (Emphasis ours throughout.)
Moffat: "You see, faith must come from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the word of Christ."
Biblical faith, a very specific faith, comes from a person knowing, believing, and using what God says in His Word strongly enough to make it a constant part of his life.
Of concern to this faith is where is the information that is entering our minds and guiding our conduct coming from? Never has mankind lived in a time when powerful and frequent communication is so easily available and seemingly limitless in quantity. Radio, television, the Internet, movies, cell phones, iPads, etc., pound our eyes and ears almost incessantly. Perhaps the most powerful influence is the general attitude of the people and the events in which our lives are immersed within the culture. Few people in the world seriously care any longer about what God says in His Word. This can subtly and silently affect our attitudes and conduct in daily life.
Are we living our lives by the faith? Those who have some respect for God are overwhelmed in our culture's civic life, thus public reference to God has been removed from schools, courts, universities, and governments. The secularism of mankind dominates. The result is abortion, homosexuality, lesbianism, and same-sex marriage as acceptable practices. Thus, it may appear even to those who do care as though Satan has overwhelmed God and is dominating life on earth. We must understand that those not living by the faith set the world's spirit, fashions, novels, movie themes, and music in this culture. We must resist being drawn in.
Notice the use of the word "wanders." God's children do not ordinarily deliberately plan to go astray, but whether they do or do not, regardless of the intention, the result is the same.
Hebrews 2:1-3 provides an illustration in which there is no deliberate intention to sin:
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.
The metaphor in "lest we drift away" is of a boat slipping its moorings and drifting away, caught in the currents it was tied against. Paul makes clear that the spiritual drifting is the result of neglecting the priorities set by our calling into the Kingdom of God, just as a boat will drift away if it is not tied securely. Other parts of the book of Hebrews show that neglect becomes a factor when one is not consciously living a purposely directed life. The epistle's recipients were neglectfully drifting through life.
Hebrews 5:11-14 shows us the result:
. . . of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
These people had become "dull of hearing" and apparently were rapidly regressing toward unconversion. Neglect is particularly spiritually dangerous. Through neglect, they were seriously drifting into a lack of faith deep enough to have to relearn the fundamentals of this way of life. When dullness of hearing is tied to Romans 10:17—"faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"—we can understand that, if one does not hear correctly, motivation to live by faith greatly diminishes.
Hebrews was written to encourage a congregation of neglectful and drifting people to repent, to get back on track toward the Kingdom. Considering their dullness of hearing, the book of Proverbs provides what might be a shocking reality, one we hope we will not have to face if we will repent.
Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death. (Proverbs 8:32-36)
Bluntly stated, Wisdom's sage and exhortative counsel is, "Listen carefully and apply what I tell you diligently. If you do not, but instead live a life of sin, then the conclusion of the matter is that, in reality, you love death rather than life." Since our calling, have we ever pictured ourselves as loving death? Those who do not consciously and purposefully direct their lives by faith toward obedience to God in reality love death!
John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and God's Justice
Jesus says, "According to your faith let it be to you," similar to His words to the centurion whose servant was dying in Matthew 8:13. In both cases, the condition for the miraculous cure is faith. Faith opens the door for divine blessing; its lack closes the door. Christ could do few mighty works in Nazareth due to the people's lack of faith (Matthew 13:57-58). Similarly, salvation is a great work, but unbelief prevents it. It is important to study the Word of God to increase faith, as it comes by hearing or reading God's Word (Romans 10:17).
"Their eyes were opened" is more than a description of a literal action; it is also a Hebrew figure of speech. The Jews thought of blind eyes as "shut," and seeing eyes as "open." Jesus removes two men's blindness—they can now see and comprehend what was once closed to them. Thus, the opening of the eyes also suggests spiritual understanding.
Most people do not grasp the value or the meaning of Scripture, but Christ can open a person's eyes to enable him to understand His Word just as He did for His disciples after His resurrection (Luke 24:16-31, 45). The psalmist prays, "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law" (Psalm 119:18).
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing Two Blind Men (Part Two)
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