Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.Romans 10:17 NET
Raise your hand if you grew up in a faith community that often repeated this. If we need more faith, they said, then we need more Word. In some places, this verse was used to make the case for the priceless and irreplaceable function of the preacher. In other places, the empowerment emphasis shifted the value of the preached word from the mouth of the preacher to our mouths.
If we consider verse 17 in context of Romans 10, there is a beautiful running theme of faith as a driver to other things like righteousness, salvation, and God encounters. Faith is opposed by carnal works when we want to set ourselves up in our own righteousness. But there is a righteousness that comes from God.
Take a breath right there. Are we submitted to the righteousness of God? Noticing the difference is slick, and necessary — slick because of how easy it is to slip into doing things we think will make God love us. But his love is constant, not changing.
With the heart we believe to righteousness and confess with our mouths. We learn to call on the name of the Lord, and we call by faith. Before we can call though, we need faith… so there is a message that has to be preached to us. It’s a message that we must hear and exercise our right to choose to accept and believe or reject and not believe. Teachers and preachers deliver Christ’s word into our hearing. “Faith comes by hearing” is a principle, then. Faith grows by what we hear.
What do we gain if our voices are the authority in our lives? (if we do not repeat God’s word to ourselves)
What are we saying to ourselves throughout the day? (and how does it affect our beliefs)
Is what we say to ourselves in alignment with God’s Word? (building us up in faith and confession)
These are important questions. We do not muster up belief. Belief, faith, and conviction are sown into us by the seed of God’s word. We do not manufacture faith with success any more than we successfully manufacture our own righteousness. Without the strength of God’s word, there will be an eventual breaking.
Let’s give ear to the word of Christ. Let’s pay closer attention to how what we hear affects our faith. Let’s lean in and submit to the righteousness of God. Let’s be persuaded about God’s great love for us; nothing we do or don’t do changes his love for us. Let’s not convince ourselves that relationship with the Father is so difficult that we have to set up for ourselves obstacle courses to prove to God how far we will go. (We can do a bunch of things without faith)
Beloved, may our ears be ever open to the word of Christ. May we have the courage to accept his offer of salvation to enter into his righteousness. Selah, and amen.
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"In the darkness of night, I wait expectantly for understanding and knowledge for your people."
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