Free Bible Study Magazine
Everybody lives by faith. Whether it is in personal, national or international life, we all exercise faith every day. In all aspects of life the object of faith always determines its quality. Perhaps an illustration will help you see what I mean.
A group of scientists wanted to collect some rare specimens of wild flowers which grew on the side of a dangerously steep cliff. They offered a local boy £50 if he would go down by a rope to get them. The boy looked at the money, weighed up the danger, and replied, “I’ll go if my father holds the rope.” No doubt that boy had faith in father. He had faith that his father was strong enough to hold the rope for him.
The effectiveness of our faith is determined by the object in whom our faith rests. Since dad was strong enough to hold the rope, the boys faith in him would not be disappointed. On the other hand, if dad was not so strong, the little boys faith would be weak.
When we come to the Christian gospel, we are urged to put our faith both in the Living Word of God and in the Written Word of God. The faith we have is the same, but its object is infinitely different. As we choose to believe in God, our human faith is transformed into saving faith; natural faith into a powerful spiritual faith. Such saving faith “comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
I. The Creation of a Supernatural Faith
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The apostle Paul is careful to show that faith, in the final analysis, is a gift of God (Ephes. 2:8-9). He shows that just as man could not ascend into heaven to bring Christ down from above, nor descend into the deep, that is, to bring Christ up from the dead, so he cannot save himself. God must take the initiative, and He does this by creating faith in the human heart. This is done through:
1) The Heralding of the Gospel
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God [or the gospel of Christ]” (Romans 10:17). The phrase, “the word of God” should read “the word of Christ” or, more simply, “the gospel of Christ.” Whether that gospel is conveyed through the printed page, personal conversation, or from the pulpit makes no difference, as long as the gospel is preached. God has ordained that the gospel must be preached and that its sound should go into all the earth until all people in every generation have heard of the saving grace of Christ.
Stephen Olford recalls: “I well remember the chief of a primitive tribe in Portuguese West Africa who looked into my father’s face and exclaimed, after hearing the gospel for the first time, ‘Ngana, this is what we have been waiting for. Why has it taken you so long to reach us? Your message has taken away our fear and given us faith.'”
As Irvin Rutherford says, “Why should anybody hear the gospel twice when millions in the world have never heard it at all – that’s not fair.”
The present preaching of the gospel is a sheer necessity. Every human being must hear the gospel. The apostle Paul sensed this burden when he said, “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16).
Are we as urgent as this in our heralding of the gospel? We must work while we can.
As Joel Houston sings on last year’s Hillsongs album: “Tell the world that Jesus lives. Tell the world that he died for them, Tell the World that He lives again.”
2) The Hearing of the Gospel
“Faith comes by hearing” (Romans 10:17). The gospel must not only be heralded, it must be heard. In His ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ often focused attention on His teaching and preaching with the words, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15). The reason for this is that only those who “hear the voice of the Son of God…shall live” (John 5:25). Any one can hear a preacher and think – there is someone making a noise. Or they might say he is telling us something about God. But to hear as Jesus tells us to hear means to listen, pay attention and think very carefully about what is being said, with an open heart. You and I and God have a part to play in this. The creation of a supernatural faith happens through the heralding and hearing of the gospel.
II. The Activity of a Supernatural Faith
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the [preaching of the gospel of Christ]” (Romans 10:17). In the context of this amazing verse we are shown that the activity of a supernatural faith is twofold:
1) It Levels Everyone to the Conditions of the Gospel
“Whoever believes in him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile: for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call on him” (Romans 10:11-12). The advantages of intellect, opportunity and substance do not operate in the sphere of faith. Faith places everyone in the same position, needing the grace of God. Faith minimizes man’s merit and magnifies God’s mercy. And this is how it should be. If your salvation were based upon your race, what would happen to the despised people of the world? If it were based upon your riches, what would happen to those who are too poor to pay? If it were based on your rank, what would happen to those without social status? If it were based upon your reading, what would happen to those who do not possess the academic qualifications that you have? If it were based upon religion, what would happen to those whose religious ideas oppose yours? God sweeps all these things aside and levels every man at the foot of the cross.
…”God has put the matter of salvation in such a way that the whole world can lay hold of it. All men can believe. A lame man might not perhaps be able to visit the sick; but he can believe. A blind man, by reason of his infirmity, cannot do many things; but he can believe. A deaf man can believe. A dying man can believe. God has put salvation so simply that young and old, wise and foolish, rich and poor, can all believe if they will” (D. L. Moody from 1000 New Illustrations by Aquilla Webb, Harper & Row).
2) It Leads Everyone to the Christ of the Gospels
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). You cannot read the Scriptures or hear the gospel preached without being drawn to the central fact and figure of the divine revelation, our Lord Jesus Christ. He and He alone is the Saviour of the world. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Do not stumble at the simplicity of this truth, for this is essentially God’s method.
…In simple acrostic form, faith in Christ simply means: Forsaking All I Take Him.
“Mark you,” said a Christian sailor, to a shipmate at the wheel, “mark you, it isn’t breaking off swearing and the like; it isn’t reading the Bible, nor praying, nor being good; it is none of these; for even if they would answer for the time to come, there’s still the old score; and how are you to get over that? It isn’t anything that you have done or can do; it’s taking hold of what Jesus did for you; it’s forsaking your sins, and expecting the pardon and salvation of your soul, because Christ let the waves and billows go over Him on Calvary. This is believing and believing is nothing else” (New Cyclopedia of Anecdote from 2000 New Illustrations by Aquilla Webb, Harper & Row).
III. The Confession of a Supernatural Faith
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”‘ (Romans 10:17). Note the apostle Paul’s words when he says, “The righteousness which is of faith speaks in this way .…That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made for salvation” (Romans 10:6, 9-10). Following the hearing, believing and obeying of the gospel, there must be the confession of supernatural faith. Only when the Saviour is crowned and confessed as Lord of the life can a soul enter into the fullness of God’s salvation. To receive Christ is to receive saving faith.
1) The Confession of Christ as Saviour
“For with the…mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Dr. Handley Moule points out that “confession with the mouth …is nothing less than the believer’s open loyalty to Christ. It is no mere recital of a Creed, which may be done without thinking.” Our confession of faith is our open loyalty and faithfulness to Christ before men.
This confession of faith was the hardest thing for the Jews to do. You will remember that, during our Lord’s ministry “many [Jews] believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). How many today are ashamed of Jesus – too ashamed to stand for him?
Paul insists that the confession of saving faith must be unashamed “for the Scripture says, Whoever believes in him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 10:11). In other words, the confession of faith must result in bold Christian testimony. As a good confessor himself, the writer of the epistle could declare: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God for salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Later, his challenge to Timothy was: “Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim. 1:8). And then we must not forget the words of the Master when He said: “Whoever…shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). To take such a stand for the Christian faith may be a costly business, nevertheless it is a vital element of radiant and victorious Christianity.
Stephen Olford recounts: John S—was a sergeant in the Regular Army. As a man he was tough as nails! Frequently he visited our war-time servicemen’s center. We had reached the point where I was able to ask him, quite bluntly, if he knew what it was to be a Christian. He shook his head sadly. I continued: “Then tell me what is hindering you.” I shall never forget his reply. “Padre,” he said, “if you were to hand me a rifle and fixed bayonet, and ask me with half a dozen men to storm an enemy encampment amid falling bombs and flying bullets, I would do it without flicking an eyelid. But if you were to tell me to go back to my barracks tonight, stand up among my fellows, and confess Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord, I would shake like an aspen leaf. In fact,” he added, “I just couldn’t do it.”
I admired his honesty and frankness, and, putting my hand on his shoulder, said: “John, you have drawn a distinction between physical bravery and moral courage. I agree with you—it is quite impossible to display moral courage by confessing Jesus Christ, unless you know His saving grace and enabling power. You are trying to confess before you believe and obey the gospel.” He saw the distinction, and with determination written over his face, he asked that we might kneel for a word of prayer. Deliberately he confessed his need and sin before God, and then committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, Master and Friend. When we rose from our knees, I could see the glory in his eyes. John was a new man! The sequel to this is a thrilling story; John became known as an unashamed Christian from one end of the barracks to the other, and scores of fellow-soldiers were led to a saving knowledge of Christ through his uncompromising witness.
2) The Confession of Christ as Sovereign
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Rom 10:9). In another place Paul tells us that “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). In other words, the confession of a living faith is one of the evidences that a man or woman has, in fact, accepted Christ as Saviour and acknowledged Him as Lord. The person who is unwilling to confess the lordship of Christ is not saved.
Will you make this confession of your faith by confessing Christ as Saviour and Sovereign of your life?
We have seen that the creation of a supernatural faith comes through the heralding and hearing of the gospel; the activity of a supernatural faith levels all people to the conditions of the gospel, then leads them to the Christ of the gospel. The confession of a supernatural faith is a confession Christ as Saviour and Lord. For Christianity and faith to come together we must’ pray and mean the words an old hymn:
My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary,
Now hear me while I pray,
Take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day
Be wholly Thine!