Friday, January 05, 2007

Faith comes by hearing... or does it?

Faith comes by hearing... or does it?

First off here are a couple of verses many are familiar with...

Romans 10: 17 (or the part they always quote) faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."

Now I have heard this quoted so many times and often when that happens what is being said in scripture is often mistaken. One instance of this is:

Matthew 18: 20. "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

I have heard this used for prayer and to say that it only takes two to have "church". Yet, if one really looks at the context it is about reconciliation. As before this is said, Jesus is talking about confronting who has sinned against you. Then following it Peter asks how many times we are to forgive someone who has sinned against you... Yep there it is in the context of confronting and forgiving sin... and nothing about prayer or corporeal worship.

In regards to this I was thinking first about the emerging conversation... I have been studying a bit on the word "logos" as it developed and was used in the times of Jesus. I see in its idea that of being a conversation... or as the Baptist theologian Gordon Clark taught that it is the idea of "Word", and "words" in a rational form.

Gordon Clark believed that when one was regenerated (born again/made a new creation) then they once again become connected to the "mind of Christ" and became once again the "image of God"... Of course this is a two sentence summary of his view so it will not do him much justice, but suffice it to say, I see he is missing some fine points... but I will save that for another post on that topic. The point here is this is not a unique idea that I just pulled from the air that the word "logos" could be translated as Clark did, as:

"In the beginning was Logic, and Logic was with God and was God."

Again, I think Clark misses some finer points, as I see it is not just "logic" but a flowing of a continued conversation from Genesis to the conversation becoming Flesh in the Person of Jesus.
With that major segue; hearing does not always lead to faith...

Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”

Romans 10: 13 - 20. “...for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And howcan they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding." And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.Paul states that faith comes by hearing… and yet states that the Hebrews heard and did not believe. Then he even says the same question again, and points out that the Jewish people heard and understood the message… yet there was no belief!"

Now if that does not make you wonder a bit then you are missing what I am stating here so re-read it again...

In the end Paul summarizes a passage from Isaiah… “And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me."”

It seems these people are not even trying to listen and God reveals Himself to them!!!!

So it is not just in the preaching that people respond…The idea that it is about us preaching and saving people is not really the case… If one is really looking at what is being said, it is that Jesus will reveal Himself to them… meaning that out of Jesus revealing Himself, or calls one to Himself then,“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

Please notice Whose “word” it is. It is not our cleverly developed arguments, nor our powerful logical assertions. It is not in how we expound and wax eloquently over our favorite passages of Scripture… for then salvation is not purely of Jesus, but we then are taking that glory due solely to Jesus for ourselves. No this is what Paul meant as he stated:

1 Cor 1: 17 – 31 “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

I think one of the most egotistical thing a Christian can say is, “I saved someone.”

As if they could have even saved themselves!

No, a person is completely at God’s Mercy and Grace… and as they respond they are saved.

Now, am I saying that preaching is of absolutely no value? Am I saying that logic or reason, or assertions or “propositional truth” or whatever is of no value… in a way yes!

None of that will save you… only Jesus saves someone. Yet as we live out our lives… and we partake in “Christ in us”, we will see Christ Jesus at work in and through us.

In fact you will use all the tools as stated, yet in that it is Jesus doing His Father’s work in and through you… it is not of our works… or else we could stand before God and state, “did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” For then we could justify ourselves by our works before God… yet if we do that, His response will be, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matt 7) So beware if you think YOU are doing anything for God…

We are to rest in the Sabbath Who is Christ Jesus… He put an end to our works and we are to rest solely on His perfect works… just as before and up to the Cross and now after the Resurrection we are commissioned… For we are sent on the mission of proclaiming Christ in us our hope of Glory and that He is Risen and the Kingdom of God is here! In that God will finish that work and purpose He is doing in you... and through you, by Jesus Himself.




Rob Witham said...

Some excellent thoughts and needed reminders. I remember years ago being involved with a certain evangelism program at my church. Some of the leaders would get quite worked up if they found out someone had deviated from the "canned" speech we were supposed to use. I guess they thought we were using some type of magic formula that would assure the salvation of listeners. Who needed the Spirit...

iggy said...


"faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."

You don't know howm many sermons I have heard and how many times I have taught that we are to preach so others can hear... that it all depended on US, YOU ME to get the WORD out... not realizing HE, THE WORD is already out and will acomplish what HE set out to do. HE (the WORD) will not return void.

I am also amazed at how may verses are like this... when I taught the "rapture" (which I don't think I believe in any more... I do believe in the Resurrection as it is essential to New Creation but the more I study the Rapture, the less I see it... I even stopped studying "it" as I am not ready to give it up entirely!LOL!) Yet, in the chapter of the 144000 it is taught these are Jewish evangelists... and that is not even in the chapter. It is not in the original language... it is not even the thought behind what is going on!

Here is the closets verse. Rev 7: 9 - 10 . After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

Notice they are not going to world to preach as in the "last Days" horrible version, but rather set aside to worhsip Jesus... they are at the Throne of God doing all this! Chapter 14 tells us these "follow the Lamb whereeever He goes." these are not jewish evagelist, but the martyrs of our faith... all who have endured the tribulation and not ben tainted by the whore Babylon (That is my take, literally all it says is they had not been with a woman which then degrades women as a whole so I do have a bit of trouble with that idea)...

THE POINT IS AS I HAVE LET MYSELF GET A BIT CARRIED AWAY HERE, is that there is so much bad theology... it is tainted with Platonism and dualism that is almost a Neo Gnosticism... only many are pure in the gnosticism but only say Jesus came in the flesh. Docetism is most probably the biggestr one today in the Americanized gospel.

Anyway all that to say, thanks for your comment! LOL!