April 5, 2019 by directorfsm
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for“Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” (ESV)
The Apostle having shewn, that the children of God, whether Jew or Gentile, or wherever scattered, should find grace; and having quoted a well known passage to confirm it of the Prophet Joel, which Peter had also explained, in reference to the remnant whom the Lord shall call: (see Joel 2:32 with Acts 2:16-21.) here takes up the subject to shew no less the necessity of a divine mission, in every instance where the Lord would bless his word to the souls of the people. And, he makes references to other scriptures in proof, Isaiah 52:7 and Isaiah 53:1. But, the Apostle hath expressed himself so dearly on those points, as to render unnecessary any comment. I would rather, therefore, as a short improvement from the whole, request the Reader’s attention to what the Apostle hath said on the subject of faith coming by hearing; that we may both enter into the Apostle’s meaning, and, if it please the Lord, gather instruction under his Almighty teaching, on this interesting point of faith and hearing by the word of God.
There is somewhat very blessed in hearing the word of God, when God gives the hearing ear, and the seeing eye, and the understanding heart. David, under the influence of it cried out: I w ill never forget thy word, for by it thou hast quickened me, Psalms 119:93. And every child of God can say the same who hath felt the Lord’s power, in the Lord’s word, and like Job, hath esteemed it more than his necessary food, Job 23:12. See Jeremiah 15:16.
But while the people of God, when brought by regeneration into an heart-felt knowledge and enjoyment of the word of God, feel the blessedness and the sweetness of it to their soul’s joy; it becomes the subject of interesting enquiry, how faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God? We all know that faith is the gift of God. No man can create faith in his own heart, neither can he increase what the great Author and Giver of faith hath planted there. Let this be marked down as a principle perfectly incontrovertible. Faith is God’s gift, not man’s work. It is of God’s grace, not man’s merit. Unto you, saith the Apostle, it is given to believe on him, Philippians 1:29.
When this point is clearly and fully established in the mind, we shall the better enter into the right apprehension of what the Apostle saith: faith cometh by hearing. The Lord hath graciously appointed means and instruments for the promoting his glory, in his people’s happiness; for the conveying to them many of his gifts and blessings. Now, faith by hearing is one of them. A child of God comes to the word of God. He hears in it of Jesus. His heart is warmed, and his affections excited thereby. And he finds his mind going forth in desires after Christ, and in a confidence, and love, and faith In Christ. Hence faith, in all those instances, may be said to come by hearing. And thus the Lord stamps a blessing on Gospel ordinances, and the hearing of his blessed word. The Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians, laid this down as a proof of their election, because the word was blessed to them in this way. Knowing brethren beloved, (said he,) your election of God. For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5.
And, if my Reader be of them, who by regeneration know the Lord, he must have the same testimony in his heart also. Remember, my brother, that this faith which cometh by hearing, doth not come in such an open display as many of the public manifestations of the Lord in his providence, or his grace, may. The Lord speaks in the still, small voice, as powerfully to his people’s joy, as when in the thunder or the storm. His love and favor are equally manifested. Have you never felt, when hearing the word of God, an enlightening, refreshing, comforting, instructing, soul-strengthening communication from it? Could you not many times have said, as the disciples did, whose souls were refreshed with the divine discourse of Jesus himself, when talking with them in their way to Emmaus: did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures? Luke 24:32. Surely it is the same Lord, who now speaketh, by the ministry of the same word, in the present day of the Church, when at any time bringing them under his shadow and making his fruit sweet to their taste, Song of Solomon 2:3.
And, what tends to endear this act of grace still more, (for it is wholly grace,) is the blessedness of it, in that it depends not upon our preparedness to receive it, or our deservedness of it, in endeavoring to prepare for it, but the Lord’s favor; for it comes like the rain or the dew of heaven, which waiteth not for man, neither tarrieth for the sons, of men, Micah 5:7. If the Lord was to suspend this, or any other blessing, till man made himself prepared for it; then would it never come at all. Precious Jesus! how suited are thy words here, as in a thousand other instances: I am found of them that sought me not! I said, behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name! Isaiah 45:1.
My Brother! let you and I delight to attend ordinances and the hearing of the Lord’s word; and not in any preparation of our own, but the Lord’s. For, my own part, I would pray to seek the Lord’s face in the Lord’s strength. Faith will never come by my attempting to create it in my own heart. Neither will I despond of receiving faith because of this. I am here blessedly taught, that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Hence, I am not to consider what I can do; for I can do nothing but sin. But my business is, to consider what Christ, the great Author and Finisher of faith, can do; yea, what he will do, for his people. I am come, he saith, that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly, John 10:10.