Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans, as mentioned in an earlier entry, is perhaps the most theology-rich epistle written by Paul and is filled with gems of pure gospel. It was written to the Roman church at a time when there is cultural awkwardness between the Jews and the Romans/Gentiles in the city. The Jews had just returned upon the death of Cladius into the city after an exile that spanned about 5 years, and while the Roman Church had been a purely Gentile church in those years, at the time of the letter, they had to accomodate the Jews back into the Church. Romans 10 goes specifically into talking about Faith, especially using the Israelites as a negative example to warn his readers against it. Romans 10:17 tells us clearly that faith comes from the word of God.
Analysis: 1. Gaining faith
A couple of verses before the verse we are discussing today gives us a clear picture of the context of Romans 10:17.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? [Romans 10:14-15]
The idea that we cannot fault people for not believing if we haven’t preached to them is a reminder to us as disciples that it is our duty to preach the gospel wherever we go. I won’t go too much into the diagram above, lets leave that discussion for the study on Romans 10:14.
Analysis: 2. Building faith
Even if we have already believed and received salvation (by calling on the name of the Lord); we are still responsible for the building of our own faith. Faith, if left stagnant, can easily waver to the lies and the temptations of the devil; or even be lost in trying times. We thus need to build on our faith. How do we do that? It’s the same, old way. Through the word of God.
I’d like to sneak in a verse here:
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
This blog is really about studying and memorizing verse, and what better way to hear the word whenever you need it by having it in your heart? We memorize textbooks, reports and presentations day after day for our careers. Yet what’s stopping us from memorizing verses regularly?
Analysis: 3. Obstacles and Excuses
(A) An Unwilling Heart
Whether it is being unwilling to be sent to spread the gospel or being unwilling to hear more of God’s words so as to build on one’s own faith, a willing heart goes a long way, and an unwilling heart will see one’s faith stagnate. Availability > Ability.
(B) Lack of Time
Big, fat excuse here. I’ve always disliked this excuse – be it in the workplace or in church – even though I am equally guilty of using this excuse. Spend half an hour less time on facebook, and you’ll have half an hour more to read the Bible. Spend an hour less watching the television, and you get an hour more to pray to God. Indeed, there are many who are really busy, slogging their lives away, sometimes for a good cause. Still, time can always be made for God. God gave us time. Isn’t it sad that we can’t even fork out some time for Him? Perhaps our modern hectic lifestyles is a natural deterrent – we read in the Bible how men and women of faith are able to pray day and night and worship the Lord non-stop. I am no expert, but sometimes it is a good idea to take a break and relax in God’s presence; sometimes all it takes is for us to get into the habit of prayer and reading the Bible daily – the first couple of weeks might require a lot more discipline, but eventually, it should be as natural as brushing your teeth. Just like any other habit.
(C) Nowhere to hear the word from
No church, no friends who are Christians, no network to rope you in a healthy routine of spiritual mana. Thank God for our generation of web. The internet is a double-edged sword, not all information available are beneficial or constructive to us. I recommend John Piper’s Desiring God Ministry as a good place to start, yet the internet resources should not replace the church. Unless you live in a culture where Churches cannot exist legally, I really don’t see why this should be a problem.
The list of points mentioned above is certainly not exhaustive. Still, the message of this verse is clear – faith comes from the word of God – that is the only way to build your faith. That is the only way to spread the gospel: Preach, and be preached to. Read the Bible, and be read to. If you happen to need help directing you to internet resources, or you need help finding a church, do ask for help. If you have no one else to turn to, do let me know – I may be able to redirect you to one or two persons who may be helpful to you in your region. Even if I am unable to, the least I can do would be to pray for you.