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What Does "Faith Comes By Hearing And Hearing By The Word Of God," Mean?

Hi D____,

Thank you for your question. You are inquiring about the meaning of Romans 10:17.

Rom 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Every question I receive is best answered when we accept the fact that "Man shall... live... by every word of God." (Mt 4:4 and Lk 4:4)
 
Faith comes by the word of God, and man will live every word. It is plain when one sees this connection that we are all first given ears that cannot hear, and eyes that cannot see the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

Mat 13:1  The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
Mat 13:2  And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
The answer to your question, "what in particular does "word of God" refer to"" is the words of the Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. That is "The Word of God." That is also "the revelation of Jesus Christ." For more in-depth scriptural proof of that statement, please read the two letters entitled "Is Scripture The Word Of God" on iswasandwillbe.com at this URL: http://www.iswasandwillbe.com/Is_Scripture_The_Word_Of_God

Christ is "The Word" (John 1:1) and "the Word" is Christ. So the answer is, yes, faith comes by hearing Christ, who is the scripture. He is both the man and the Word. But there is nothing in this verse that says that everyone who hears will automatically have faith. All this verse says is that those who do have faith have first heard.

We have all read God's Word for many years before we were given faith to see and hear and believe what we were finally given faith to believe, given eyes that could see and ears that could finally hear "the things of the spirit." Faith is a gift that gives us the gift of seeing eyes and hearing ears. It is not something we simply decide to do. Being given faith is a sovereign work of God:

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Christ has deliberately withheld this gift from the multitudes who come to hear Him to this very day:

Mat 13:1  The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
Mat 13:2  And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Mat 13:3  And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Mat 13:9  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mat 13:10  And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
Has Christ given the multitudes "ears to hear?" No, here is what He tells us about the multitudes of His disciples to this very day:

Mat 13:11  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
The multitudes of Christianity are not given ears to hear. That is why Christ said "Who has ears to hear, let him hear." But this is what He tells His few elect about His many called:

Mat 13:11  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Mat 13:12  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Mat 13:13  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
Mat 13:14  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
This is a perfect example of how important it is to understand the principle of Psalms 119:160:

Psa 119:160  The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever. (ASV) Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.
What this verse tells us is that when Mt. 13:13 tells us that "Hearing they shall hear and not understand," and Romans 10:17 tells us that "faith comes by hearing..." we have to arrive at truth through the sum of these words, and what is clear is that not every one who hears is given ears to hear or eyes to see. But they do hear and they do see, and we have all been living proof of this process.

The only thing that I would change in your summary is the word 'physically.' While it is true that Christ's words are physically written in ink, it is also true that those physical words are not physical in God's elect. Here is what Christ has to say of His words which are physically written down:

Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
So faith does not come by physically hearing. Faith comes when we hear spiritually, with spiritual ears and see with spiritual eyes. That is how the holy spirit teaches:

1Co 2:12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
1Co 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1Co 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
So Christ's words "are spirit," and "the holy spirit teaches comparing spiritual things with spiritual," and the natural man receives not the things of the spirit... for they are foolishness to him and he cannot know them because they are spiritually discerned."

What does all of this tell us about what Paul means by telling us that "Hearing [comes] by the word of God?" It tells us that Christ's words are spirit, and the natural man does not hear them as such. He actually believes that all he has to do is to hear that Jesus is his savior, say a ten-second sinner's prayer, and he has faith and is saved.

But what does Christ and His spiritual words actually teach those with spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears to hear? Here again, is what Christ Himself told the multitudes:

Mat 13:9  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Mat 13:11  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given [ears to hear].

Mat 13:13  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
I hope this has helped you to see that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" is a spiritual statement about who is and who is not given that faith and who is and who is not given the ability to see and hear the things of the spirit, which Christ tells us is His word.

Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Your brother in Christ,

Mike