Romans 10:16-17- “But they were not all obedient to the good tidings, for Isaiah saith, `Lord, who did give credence to our report?’ So then the faith [is] by a report, and the report through a saying of God” YLT
The book of Isaiah is a favorite of mine. In the verse for today, Paul is quoting Isaiah in what we refer to as the 53rd chapter. I want to share it in the NKJV:
Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?Isaiah 53:1 NKJV
Isaiah asked a question that Paul felt a need to echo: Who believes what we are saying? Pastors, teachers, preachers of the gospel are still echoing this same sentiment: Does anybody believe us? Not necessarily us, but this gospel message, this message of hope? Why are people struggling to believe the gospel?
Well, for the Jews, they struggled with Jesus the Messiah, who didn’t come to overthrow the Romans. And they struggled with Jesus the Messiah, who was a servant and not a dictator or king! And they struggled with Jesus the Messiah and His teachings that were contrary to their laws they had added to the Law. And they just plain struggled, even before Jesus showed up!
Unfortunately, people still struggle with the concept of God and His abundant grace and love towards them. Believe it or not, that takes faith!
I believe in evangelism, and I know there are all kinds of ways to evangelize; but people who truly grasp the concept of their salvation, must hear the word, and keep on hearing it, in order to grasp the concept of God Himself!
When I think about the Old Testament, and the supernatural, no other explanation miracles, that God performed for His people, I wonder how in the world could they stray so easily from Him? After that powerful Exodus from Egypt, they made a golden calf! After conquering Jericho, they worshipped the Baal. After being delivered time and again, they turned from His love. Then they asked for a king, when they already had the King!
When I think of the New Testament, the Jews still didn’t believe. Although it was prophesied that they wouldn’t, in order for the other nations to gain access to the kingdom, it is still amazing to me that they rejected Jesus. He fulfilled the prophecies right before their eyes. He performed more miracles than they could write about, according to John. And they cried with one voice, “Crucify Him!”
Today, two thirds of the world don’t believe in Jesus. Of the one third that does believe in Him, most don’t have a relationship with Him, they just believe He exists and profess Christianity. In a world where we have the internet, and the countless platforms for sharing the gospel, the world as a whole is faithless!
Martin Luther saw a problem in his era of the papacy, the Church, dictating people lives, steering them through the challenges of life, with control being the dominant factor. He and others began to realize the importance of people having access to the Word of God for themselves and went on a campaign to translate the word of God from Latin, the language of the elite, to German, the language of the common man. As people began to read the word for themselves, they began to understood God like never before.
Today, we have the bible, in every version and format imaginable, but we are not reading and studying it with a heart for God to reveal Himself. We may have a cursory, ritual of reading the Bible. We may read it when we are troubled. We may read it when we are in church. But until we open the bible and begin to read it to know God, faith won’t be activated!
Paul asked, as Isaiah did centuries before him, who has believed our report? The word Paul used for “has believed” is pisteuō, a Greek term that means “to be persuaded of” or “to place confidence in, to trust.” Paul was not concerned with people having a cursory faith in the Lord, but with them believing to the point of placing their absolute trust, or confidence in the Lord! Paul understood the level of trust needed to have a faith that couldn’t be destroyed. Who believes?
Paul said faith comes by hearing! I believe my husband loves me because He shows it to me everyday. But there is something powerful about him making that verbal decree to me that he loves me. Reading God’s word is key to anchoring our faith in Him! We must know what the word says in order to have biblical faith. Then when you hear the word preached, your faith is stirred! When you hear a testimony of the goodness of God, the flame of faith is lit, or the embers are rekindled!
Both are needed: reading and hearing of the Word! Not once, not twice, but regularly for faith to be kept strong. Paul understood that the early saints had real persecution to go through. He was in the thick of things himself. And he understood the power of hearing the word. They were being told things to counter their faith! They were experiencing things contrary to their faith! They were being encouraged, at the threat of the loss of life, to reject their faith! But Paul was letting them know that faith lies in the word of God, and that they must hear it, and hear it, and keep on hearing it to counter the affects of the negative things they were hearing!
I remember a time at church when I saw the power of hearing the word. I had gone to the orthodontist to have a surgical procedure done. After the surgery they prescribed pain medications, gave instructions for care, etc. Well, before the surgery I had decided that I would not be taking pain medication because I was trusting God to be with me during the surgery. (After praying about whether I should have the surgery or not, and getting the go ahead in my spirit, I challenged myself to believe for no need for medication). Well, as I believed, I received! Just as Jesus had said!
Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.”Matthew 9:29 NKJV
That following Wednesday in Bible study, I shared how God had miraculously kept me from pain or having to taking the medication. A few weeks later, one of the members of the church gave a testimony. To my surprise, he started out talking about my testimony that I had shared and how it caused him to believe for the same thing when he had a minor surgical procedure. And guess what? He needed no pain medication because he had no pain. I’m not talking about having pain we could endure, I am talking about having no pain!
Faith comes by hearing! And hearing comes by the word of God. What word did we stand on?
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV
How did we get faith to believe for there to be no pain? We heard it preached, we searched the scriptures and found it to be true; and when we experienced it, we shared it that others would hear. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God!
I don’t know why people are struggling with the gospel message in every situation, but I do know that if faith is to be had, it will only come through the hearing of the Word! Wonderful Jesus!