Faith comes from hearing – in particular hearing the word of Christ. It is in the message of Christ that we find the object of our faith. We trust him and rely upon what he says to us. That is the nature of faith.
Faith is not a uniquely religious experience. Whenever we trust people we have faith in them. That is what is meant by the word faith. It is trust or dependence. It is to rely or to depend upon somebody or something. And we come to trust (or distrust) people by listening to them. Without any communication it is impossible to trust. So faith comes from hearing.
But hearing alone does not save us. Even hearing the message of Christ does not save us. The message we hear must be believed. The speaker must be trusted.
If the message of God is not combined with faith it is unfruitful for the hearers. It is like the children of Israel in the wilderness. God spoke to them but they rebelled against his word and perished under his wrath.
But when the message is met with faith it brings life and salvation. For all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
So the messengers of Christ, who speak his word, are highly valued. Those who come to faith and salvation through hearing the message of Christ love the messengers. As the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Ideally it will be our parents who speak the good news of Jesus to us. Sometimes it is other members of our family. Sometimes we do not come from a family with any Christians and so we have to hear from friends or neighbours. Sometimes we have to hear from strangers for nobody we know is able to tell us the message of Christ. Whoever it may be that tells us this message, we remain greatly in their debt for bringing us salvation. We can always thank God that he spoke to us through our Sunday School teachers, or Fellowship leaders, or the friend at school or at work or in our street.
It is therefore very important that the word of God is taught and learnt, spoken and heard as much as possible. There is no faith in Christ where his name is not proclaimed. Salvation comes to people through his message.
It is a Christian’s joy and responsibility to listen regularly to God’s word. And when we listen we should do so with faith and obedience. We should be reading his word daily.
Whenever we can gather with others to study and hear his word we should grab the opportunity. Joining a Bible Study group and reading God’s word with each other is a great way to regularly be challenged to faith in the word of Christ.
When the Church gathers – we gather to hear God’s word. Paul told Timothy how in Paul’s absence, “to behave in… the church of the living God”. He said “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. … Keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
This is why there is so much rejoicing over last week’s ordination in the Cathedral. It was the largest ordination in the history of our diocese. 51 candidates were licensed into the full time teaching of God’s word. 47 of them were ordained as Deacons.
This represents an increase not only in numbers of ministers but also in the quality of training. These are the most rigorously trained and highly qualified ministers that the diocese has ordained.
And this is not the end of growth or a flash in the pan. Moore College is full to overflowing. 2006 has the largest intake of first year students in the history of the college. On present trends this year’s largest ever ordination will soon be surpassed.
Faith comes from hearing the word of Christ. With more full time preachers of the word of Christ we must pray that many more people will hear the gospel message. Even more we must pray that people will hear the word not with hardened hearts but with faith.