So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Jesus Christ. — Romans 10:17 (HCSB)
It is amazing how little people know about the Word of God, especially here in America where virtually everyone has access to the Bible. This was demonstrated by Tonight Show host Jay Leno. Leno frequently does "man-on-the street" interviews, and one night he collared some young people to ask them questions about the Bible. "Can you name one of the Ten Commandments?" he asked two college-age women. One replied, "Freedom of speech?" Mr. Leno said to the other, "Complete this sentence: Let he who is without sin..." Her response was, "have a good time?" Mr. Leno then turned to a young man and asked, "Who, according to the Bible, was eaten by a whale?" The confident answer was, "Pinocchio."
Such misunderstandings, while seeming to be humorous, are tragic. The importance of God’s Word is reiterated throughout its pages and no more powerfully than in Romans 10:17 where it states, "So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ."
8 On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things! 16 But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.
1. HEAR IT!
Romans 10:14 declares, "…how can they believe without hearing about Him?..."
Proverbs 29:18 "Without revelation people run wild, but one who listens to instruction will be happy. "
Romans 10:17 declares that faith is the result of hearing God speak through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Word of God produces faith in the matter of Salvation. In 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 the Apostle Paul says, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
As a pastor, sometimes I feel like I’m in sales and promotion. Help me remember at the heart of it all, is not to "get" the word out, but to "let" the Word out. The Word of God produces faith in the matter of spiritual growth.
Dwight L. Moody once wrote, "I prayed for Faith, and thought that someday Faith would come down and strike me like lightening. But Faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, ‘Now Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ I had closed my Bible, and prayed for Faith. I now opened my Bible, and began to study, and Faith has been growing ever since." (Dwight L. Moody, Leadership, Vol. 10, no. 4.)
2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
John R. W. Stott said, “A man who loves his wife will love her letters and her photographs because they speak to him of her. So if we love the Lord Jesus, we shall love the Bible because it speaks to us of him.”
Other books were given for our information; the Bible was given for our transformation.
2. BELIEVE IT!
You can read the Bible everyday of your life and still be unaffected by its pages and unchanged by its power, unless you are willing to believe it and receive it. Again, Dwight L. Moody said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.”
Notice how Paul says you must believe before you can have saving faith in Romans 10:8-11.
8 On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame…”
Paul also wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”
Long before contemporary authors Josh McDowell and Lee Stroebel researched the truth of the Bible, American Jurist Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873) wrote, "There came a time in my life when I doubted the divinity of the Scriptures, and I resolved as a lawyer and a judge I would try the book as I would try anything in the courtroom, taking evidence for and against. It was a long, serious, and profound study; and using the same principles of evidence in this religious matter as I always do in secular matters, I have come to the decision that the Bible is a supernatural book, that it has come from God, and that the only safety for the human race is to follow its teachings."
Remember the plea of Colossians 3:16. “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
3. CONNECT IT!
Notice again Romans 10:14-15.
14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!
Jesus commanded us in Mark 16:15 to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Christian leader who gave his life opposing the Nazis, studied for a year in New York City. He was uniformly disappointed with the preaching he heard there: "One may hear sermons in New York upon almost any subject; one only is never handled, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, of the cross, of sin and forgiveness."
Don McKenzie told this story. One night very late in the evening, a pastor was called to the hospital. As he was walking down the semi-dark hall, with no people around, a man suddenly ran out of one of the patient rooms. He ran up to the pastor – the pastor had never seen him before--and said to him with joy in his face, "She’s going to make it. She’s better. She is going to make it," and then he made his way on down the hall. The preacher has not seen the man since. He does not know who the man was talking about. Apparently “she” was someone very near and dear to him, and he had just received good news. He could not wait to share it. He did not even have to know the person with whom he shared it; it just flowed from him because he had received good news, and good news is to be shared.
The Apostle Peter said to those who opposed the Gospel in Acts 4:20, "We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Luigi Tarisio was found dead one morning with scarce a comfort in his home, but with 246 exquisite violins, which he had been collecting all his life, crammed into an attic, the best in the bottom drawer of an old rickety bureau. In his very devotion to the violin, he had robbed the world of all that music all the time he treasured them; others before him had done the same, so that when the greatest of his collection, a Stradivarius, was first played, it had had 147 speechless years. Yet, how many of Christ’s people are like old Tarisio?
In our very love of the church we fail to give the glad tidings to the world; in our zeal for the truth we forget to publish it. When shall we all learn that the Good News needs not just to be cherished, but needs to be told? All people need to hear it.
The value of the Bible is not knowing it, but obeying it. Knowing the Bible is of little benefit unless you practice it.
The best thing to do with the Bible is to know it in the head, stow it in the heart, sow it in the world, and show it in the life.