Faith And Hearing In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom.10:17NKJV). Paul said that faith is believing what God says. It is important to stress this since the word “Word” here means the actual spoken or written words of God as they were inspired in the prophets and apostles of old (2 Pet. 1:20-21). The writer to the Hebrews wrote that it is “impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18), and in his gospel, John recorded that Jesus said, “I am ... the truth” (Jn. 14:6). Christians are convinced by these words because they believe the Bible. But the world is not so easily convinced. Opposition Of Science So saturated is today’s western culture with “the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim. 6:20), or the opposition of science, that even Christians begin to have doubts about the Bible. So it comes down to two points which need to be put right.
First, we need to know how to answer when non-Christians question us about the Bible’s accuracy and its inerrancy. Second, for our own sakes we have to tackle these questions. If we are not sure, then we are likely to be like “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). And it is not just ignorance we have to deal with, but also, as the verse continues, “by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”
The word “trickery” refers to a sleight of hand in dice whereby a cunning player always wins. However, “cunning craftiness” is not merely a simple trick but wholesale fraud that could be translated as “systematized error.” This is all the more reason why we must know our Bibles, “and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).
How Can We Know?
How can we be certain that the Bible is what it claims to be? Concerning these oppositions of science, we need to realize that all human wisdom and understanding is limited and therefore faulty. Even with the best instruments we know very little of our universe. And unless we were there at its beginning, and had planned and designed it all, we cannot know about its end. There can only be one Person who has all those qualifications: He who called it all into being and said, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3; Jer. 23:23-24).
How then can we be sure that God has spoken in the Bible? The solution is not as easy as it sounds, for it is against all human reasoning. If God really did inspire all the words of the Bible, as Paul wrote to the Romans, if every word of God is pure (Rom. 10:17; Ps. 12:6; 119:140; Prov. 30:5) then certain things must follow.
First, the Bible must answer all the big questions: What am I? Where am I from? Where am I going? And it must also tell us who God is and how we can relate to Him. There are various ways of expressing these big questions, but these are the questions the Bible answers.
Second, the Bible must work in practice. As we read it we are challenged to bring our lives into line with its teachings. As we do this we find our lives becoming more meaningful and satisfying. Drunkards become sober, violent criminals become gentle, thieves become honest and liars tell the truth.
Finally, the Bible has to be without contradiction. This is most difficult, as even Peter had to admit that there are “some things hard to be understood, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16). One of the biggest dangers for Christians is to fall into the hands of unfaithful theologians. Some centers of learning are not known for their sympathy to the Bible nor to the God of the Bible. The best thing to do is to read it. It is better to study God’s Word than man’s words about God’s Word.
The World And Heaven
To the world, the most popular meaning of the word “faith” is a religion or a system of belief. This idea is everywhere, even in the dictionary. But the best definition of faith is found in the Bible itself. That’s where we come to see what God means by it. The Bible says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). It also says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
Since faith is based on believing what God says in His Word, we can misunderstand, forget or disobey. John 5:24 says: “He that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.” It tells us that having heard and believed the word of the Lord, we pass from death to life. It also tells us that we have everlasting life and will never be condemned.
Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Once we are “in Christ” we can never be “snatched” out of His hand (Jn. 10:27-29). However, though we are seated together with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6), our walk in this world?is “by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7), and it is not always perfect. Often it is far from perfect. But “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7).
God has made provision for our human weakness. As we live in the world and overcome various testings our faith gets stronger. Faith is not something we can lose. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ, not by our own works (Eph. 2:8). And once saved it is by faith that we live our lives more and more “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:28-29). We are exhorted to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).
Nobody would think of using a piece of electronic technology contrary to the maker’s instructions. And having faith and believing the Bible is like that – simply following the Maker’s instructions. We come to Christ and pass from death to life by following His Word. We then live our lives on earth as citizens of heaven, by following that same Word. That’s faith.
By Roger Penney
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org