“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
There are those who will hold up there Bibles and claim that we need to “spread the word” so that others might believe.
In other words, shove scripture in their faces.
If we are “lacking faith”, we must paste our faces in our Bibles, thus “hearing”, until our faith returns. It is as if “hearing” scripture increases our faith.
Sorry, but I have a hard time with these ideas.
The Bible is not the “word of God”. The Bible does not give us faith. Jesus is the living Word of God (John 1). Even though scripture is “God-breathed”, it is not the word of God. One good explanation – one better than I can articulate – can be found here… http://www.patheos.com/blogs/emergentvillage/2013/04/the-bible-is-not-the-word-of-god-a-polemic-against-christendom/
Let’s see if we can simply define the main points of this passage.
Faith. Faith is believing but, as I see it, with follow-through. When we do what God says, we are acting in faith. It is based on what God says, first. Faith is not proven by our works but, basically comes to life in and with our works.
Hearing. Listening, heeding, giving consideration. It goes into the idea of obeying, which is action. So, where are we going with this?
The word of God. That which God speaks to us. His commands. Again…the Bible is not the word of God.
God speaks. We heed/obey. Faith is active.
Believing in something means nothing, by itself. That’s just mental assent. Doing something based on what God tells us is faith.
(Note: Doing what we think should be done, assuming it is His will and adding His Name to it is not faith. It is presumptive and can be arrogant. Interestingly, Romans 14 shows us that stuff that does not come from faith…is sin. Another topic to be tackled at another time.)
Without works (the effort, motion, obedience), faith (belief) is dead. (James 2)
It was never given life. Like, useless.
You can’t kill faith, per se, but it has no life – no substance – if we don’t act upon what we are commanded to do or walk in what the Lord is speaking to us.
It is sort of like, believing your car runs and can get you places. But, that belief is useless if you don’t turn the key, put the car in gear and drive.
This does not mean that we become useless in the Kingdom because we missed or refused a command by the Lord. God will not become disappointed in us, become angry with us or disown us. Grace doesn’t work that way.
Faith is not something we muster up. It is not something we can measure. It is not something someone has more of than another. Faith comes from the Lord. He reveals Himself and His love to us. He proves Himself to us and we choose to trust and believe. With that, we have incentive to do and go as He says. When we do what He tells us, we are acting in faith.
Did Abraham do what he felt he should do and ask God to bless it? No…he did what God was speaking to him. But, God spent years encouraging Abraham and proving Himself. Abraham did not move in blind faith, either. He did what he did based on what he knew about God. Then, when God spoke, Abraham “believed God”…or, he agreed with God.
Faith = belief = agreement. From what we see about Abraham, belief = agreement. He could agree (believe) because he had enough evidence in order to trust God. Therefore, God’s word was heard and faith came to Abraham. Abraham could then obey out of that faith.
Quotes about faith, from my old pal Mike…
“Obedience is born from faith, not to get to it.”
“Obedience has to have faith and hope, or it is just religious peity.”
“We don’t work toward faith, but work from it.”
(from a conversation with Michael Willingham, author of Charlie’s Spacesuit and long time friend)
Forget about faith seminars, how to grow or increase our faith, mustering up our faith or considering who has more or less faith. From what we read, faith comes from the Lord. He speaks, we hear, then we go from there.
As for obedience, it is not like a dog obeying its master. While there may be consequences, we will not be punished or outcast because we missed or disobeyed a directive from the Lord. From what I see, we do that more to one another than the Lord does to us. Adam and Eve were not cursed for their actions, but their actions did have consequences. Consequences are not punishment, even though they can serve as a good lesson.
Our ears toward the voice of the Lord. He will speak, in His time. We will know when He speaks. He has spoken through scripture. But, His word comes from Him, not just from some pages. He can speak to us directly, too. Maybe even through another person. No matter how He speaks to us, we will know it is Him. From that point, we have the opportunity to walk in what He says.
So, we believe in Him, He speaks and we heed and do as He says. Seems simple enough. Now, you may read this and see where I am amiss, or maybe you have a better way of describing something I have attempted to describe, here. I would be only too glad to see and learn from whatever anyone has to say…as we walk together.