“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rm. 10:17)
Faith, according to the Apostle Paul, comes by hearing the word of God. Christians often misinterpret and misunderstand this scripture. Most Christians would agree that the Bible is the word of God, and therefore we make the mistake of believing that faith comes from hearing everything, or anything, we can read in the Bible.
However, that’s incorrect. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that the Bible, both the Old and the New Testament, is inspired by God. I believe the whole Bible is for us to read and get wisdom and encouragement from today. But the Bible contains both the Old and the New Covenant, it contains both law and grace. And I don’t believe faith comes from the law, because Paul said in Galatians 3:12 that “the law is not of faith”.
Faith does not come if I use the Bible to preach the law, or legalism. For example, I could quote a Scripture verse from the law that says that if you will obey all of God’s commandments, you will be blessed. That would not produce faith. It would produce the opposite of faith and be totally counter-productive. The purpose of the law was never to produce faith, but to show us our inability to be righteous before God through our own performance.
The original Greek does not say that faith comes by hearing the word of God (as in everything found in the Bible). It says, faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. What is the word of Christ? The Gospel of God’s grace, based on the finished work of Jesus, as revealed in the New Covenant.
Faith does not come by everything we can read in the Bible. True faith comes by the word of Jesus Christ. In other words: Faith doesn’t come by hearing what we must do for God (law), but by hearing what Jesus has already done for us (grace).
The law says: Obey every commandment! Only if we fulfil a number of requirements can we be blessed, healed, and delivered etc. This will never produce faith, because as long as we trust in our own performance, we will always be defeated. Our performance will never be good enough for us to deserve God’s blessings.
Grace, on the other hand, says: Jesus has fulfilled the law. He has fulfilled every condition on our behalf. We are blessed – not because of our own performance, but because of trusting in Jesus and His performance. In Him we have blessing, healing, deliverance, and everything we need for this life.
When we hear the word of Jesus and His finished work, faith comes, because Jesus Himself is the “Author and Finisher” of our faith (Heb. 12:2).