Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Biblically speaking, “faith comes from hearing.” There is something special about hearing the Word of God and hearing the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Yet somehow odd and interesting ideas have developed around the basic dynamics of how faith comes to an individual. Some actually have merit, but fall short.
For instance, how many times have you said or heard, “seeing is believing?” As Americans we tend to believe a picture or video. What we see is “evidence” in our mind to the truth. But faith is beyond what can be seen. The Bible says: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
What can confuse us is the role seeing plays in our faith experience. For instance, seeing is “proof” but it is not faith. In other words, it supplements and confirms but, seeing is not what we can depend on for faith. An example of this can be found in the resurrection of Lazarus. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He asked Mary and Martha for some level of belief. He then proceeded to His friend’s tomb and asked that the stone be removed.
Then Jesus prays, John 11:41 – 42, “So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. (42) I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” The people who witnessed this event needed to hear the connection between Jesus and the Father. If they had not, there would have been a “disconnect” between Jesus and the event. The result of Lazarus’ resurrection is seen in John 11:45. “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.” What they saw lead them to put their faith in Jesus in context to what Jesus was preaching.
Paul said to the Colossian church, “For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.” (Colossians 2:5) What we are learning here is that what we see can confirm what we know through faith.
Unfortunately, “seeing is believing” can be deceptive. This is how illusionist work. They will set up a situation where the audience will believe what they think is happening because they don’t see what is actually happening. So called faith healers have been caught planting confederates in the audience to make it look like a healing has occurred. Thus, people see what appears to be a miracle and are drawn into the illusion.
Unfortunately, some will not believe unless they see. Peter declared, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. (Acts 3:16) The problem was that people were surprised. Surprised people do not think straight. They thought it was Peter and John who had healed the man in question. Peter asks them to see the man who was healed and confirm that it was through the name of Jesus.
When Jesus was taunted on the cross, the chief priests and teachers of the law said, “Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” (Mark 15:32) Truth is, they would not have believed anyway. Jesus put it this way, in one of His parables, “He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “ (Luke 16:31) The person who has chosen to not believe, will not be helped by what they see.
Sometimes, skepticism is not so cynical and comes from honest doubt. Remember the disciple named Thomas? After the resurrection, he had a difficult time believing. The Bible tells the story this way, “So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” (John 20:25) Thomas’ was not being mean, or refusing to believe, he was just filled with honest questions. The end result was one of absolute humiliation, because his name is now associated with “doubting.”
Despite the disciple’s disturbing lack of faith, Jesus appeared to him any way. “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” … Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:27, 29) Jesus used what Thomas could see as proof and gave a blessing to those who believe the resurrection without having seen.
Faith is more than seeing. We have already seen the Biblical definition of faith as “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) The Bible announces great joy to those who are able to walk faithfully without seeing. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, (9) for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8 – 9)
On top of that we are actually warned to be careful about our natural dependency on sight. Paul urged, “We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) Think about it this way, some of our most cherished values are not seen. Can you see love or peace? You can see the out come, but you cannot actually see love or peace.
God reveals Himself through His word. And words are spoken. They give power to ideas, images, and experience because in conversation they take on meaning and shape well beyond any picture.
Never underestimate the power of the word of God. The Bible makes this startling statement, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) We are not talking about something mystical or magical. We are talking about real life and eternal destination changing power. What’s more powerful than God speaking? Absolutely nothing. When God speaks to you, everything changes. You can never go back to the way you were before God spoke. He speaks today through His word, through what we call the Bible. The bottom line is that salivation comes through hearing.
Read Mark 4:13 – 20… Do you see the active interference that happens when the word is sown? There is direct Satanic intervention (v 15), trouble and persecution (v 17), worries of this life, deceitfulness of wealth, and desires for other things (v 19) that work to make sure the word that is sown does not bear fruit. If the devil knows the power of hearing the word, why are we so slow to acknowledge that power and use it? Maybe we are ignorant of the resources available to us.
Jesus insisted that hearing was essential to acquiring eternal life. “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24) Observe, out of Jesus own mouth the connection between “hears my word AND believes.” On top of that, they are connected to “has eternal life.” Jesus could not have been much clearer. There is not one Biblical connection between seeing, feeling, or thinking causing believing.
Scripture of the day: He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ Matthew 17:20 NIV
Pastor Peter Okereke Jr.
The Living Word Ministries Inc.
Copyright Reserved, 2012.
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