Whence Comes Faith?

Read 2 Peter 1:5-9 …

No one disputes the importance of having faith, particularly regarding one’s relationship with God. Faith is so important that the writer of Hebrews tells us that, “… without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (11:6). When that truth is combined with the statement of Jesus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), it becomes evident that faith is an integral part of the Christian foundation. As the reading above notes, faith becomes the tap root from which the Christian life not only grows, but flourishes.

So, the question arises about the source of one’s faith, from whence does it come? When one goes to Romans there is a passage that speaks directly to the seed from which faith is produced – Romans 10:14-17. In this little passage Paul raises the point that belief leads toward righteousness, and then with the mouth confession is made, and this leads toward salvation (10:10). Paul indicates that belief is part of the foundation of a Christian’s salvation; therefore, the Holy Spirit uses Paul to tell us where faith comes from – “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (10:17).

The point is made that those that bring the Gospel are doing a wondrous work, for “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). At the very beginning of the epistle, Paul makes the point that the Gospel of Christ is nothing to be ashamed of since “it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). If the story of the Gospel is not told and retold, those without faith cannot hear that good news of the kingdom and realize their faith. Those that spread the Gospel of His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-4), spread the very message that is instrumental in the development of faith.

James also follows the same line of thought in 1:18-21 where the Holy Spirit guides him to say that it was by the will of Father that He “brought us forth” in a new birth, as it were, by the “word of truth.” The Spirit also uses Peter to relate a similar line of thought where it is noted that one is born again by the incorruptible “word of God,” and that word came by preaching (1 Pet. 1:23-25). When Jesus was speaking to the Apostles in Acts 1:6-8, He told them plainly that they would be “witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” From this admonition those men went forth proclaiming the truth that Jesus Christ is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2) and that love is demonstrated in keeping His commandments (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).

All of this works together to give a picture of the simple truth that belief – faith – comes from the message of the Gospel of Christ being preached. The message is the cause; belief is the effect.

This led Moses Lard to pen: “The whole concatenation may be thus traced: The thing heard originates in the mind of God and respects his Son; it is reported by the preachers of the gospel; it is heard; out of it when heard, comes belief; out of belief comes obedience; out of obedience comes remission of sins, salvation, justification; and out of all these, eternal life.”[I]

[i] Moses Lard, Commentary on Paul’s Letter to Romans (1875; repr., Delight: Gospel Light Publishing Company, 1945), 340.

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