Thursday, April 30, 2015

Faith through hearing by the Word of God...

Some thoughts on old business from this very long thread at Green Baggins: Roman Catholic apologist Bryan Cross responding to this phrase, "But faith come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God," comments:
True, but one must first determine that something is divine revelation; otherwise, one falls into fideism by believing arbitrarily. So reason must be used in order to determine that an alleged divine revelation is truly such. Hence the motives of credibility, which I explain in “Wilson vs. Hitchens: A Catholic Perspective,” and the comments under that thread.
This highlights a significant difference between Rome and Reformed. The Reformed Christian believes that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, not by a determination arrived at through one's rational judgment (though the rational faculty is employed). Rather it is the Word of God rightly proclaimed through the operation of the God the Holy Spirit which is the power that creates saving faith in the one who hears.  And when that person believes, the Word ultimately makes sense to him.  "I was blind, but now I see!" (John 9:24-26).  He may not be able to explain everything as to the hows and whys, but now he knows that his sins are forgiven and that he has been saved through faith in Jesus who bore the penalty of those sins on the cross. God, in a sense, trumps any autonomous, personal/rational powers of self determination and judgment and sovereignly saves fallen man through His own initiative and power; the power of salvation found only in the Gospel (Rom. 1:16).

The idea that a lost man can and must use his rational powers to determine how to be found is an absurdity. Even more so if one were to say that a dead man must use his rational faculties in order to recognize Resurrection, lay hold of it, and thus receive Life. It is to those God chooses and calls that He cleanses, gives a new heart, and makes alive unto Himself.  It isn't about determining what is the right information and then believing it.  It is about a death to life transformation through the sovereign work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

Another commenter wrote: Might the peace mentioned in Philippians 4:7, be part of what you mean?

Yes, and more. That peace is a peace now established between sinful man and his holy God through the intervention and mediation of Another, Jesus Christ the crucified and risen. It is a mind-boggling thing that God the Savior would sovereignly, and without my input, pay the penalty for my sin and guilt and give to me, an enemy of righteousness, the gift of eternal life. As the B.J. Thomas song says – it’s more than a feeling. And it doesn't become true for me just because I happen to figure it out and then believe. By his law God sovereignly “shuts my mouth” (Rom. 3:19) and by his gospel graciously births His salvation in me through hearing by faith (Rom. 10:4-17). It isn’t a rational process per se, but an extra-rational intervention of God’s Word.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Rom. 1:16)

God's Word proclaimed doesn't need me as its interpreter/go-between. The Holy Spirit mediates his Word. By the Word and the Spirit the heart believes and receives salvation. With all the discussion of paradigms, logical argumentation, and presuppositions one can lose sight of the wonderful truth that Christianity is a supernatural religion. A sin-forgiving and life-imparting religion born of God in hard, stony hearts; hearts that become soft and believing when the powerful and Divine Word of salvation acts on and penetrates the soul. 


  1. The power of the gospel causes us to hear, because we would never hear apart from God's effectual call. There is no better or more objective experience than that.