By Ernest O'Neill

How Faith Comes

By Rev. Ernest O'Neill

"So, faith comes from what is heard and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ."  So the problem is real faith. Faith is belief plus obedience, belief plus action. Now how does that faith come? Well, it comes from what is heard and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.

I would be prepared to bet, if I were allowed to bet, that almost all of us in this room at this moment, misinterpret the last part of that verse, really. See, the last part is, "What is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" and I’m sure that almost all of us think, "Oh yeah, that's it. This faith that you say comes so that I can be freed from self; this comes by hearing, by what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. That's why I am glad I come to this church because we have a preacher who preaches Christ and I know that someday as he is preaching Christ, the truth is going to break upon me and I am going to see what faith is and that's why I pray for him that he'll preach it better and better every day so that some time it'll break upon me and I'll suddenly see what that faith is and I'll enter into it and I'll be freed from self."

Loved ones, here's the shocker: the word for preaching is a Greek word “Rhematheos.” It's a word that can mean “word”, but it means the actual word that is being spoken.  It doesn't mean “preaching of Christ” in the sense of preaching about Christ, it means that what is heard comes by the actual speaking of Christ. What is heard comes by Christ's preaching.

In other words, the verse is saying, "Faith -- the belief and the action that frees you from self -- comes from hearing Christ speaking to you personally."  That's the meaning of the verse and you'll see it more clearly if you ask yourself, "how do I know when Christ is speaking to me personally?" You know fine well. Every one of us in this room could probably answer that the same way. You know there are moments in a sermon when the preacher fades into the background and his limited knowledge of you and your life seems to die away and there comes into the forefront of your experience as you're sitting there, a sudden realization that God is speaking to you about things in your life and things in your heart that only he can know and no preacher can know them. You know there are moments like that.

There are moments when you realize, "He can't know that because he doesn't know me. This is some voice bigger and better and more intelligent than his that is revealing to me the very things that are in my life."

Loved ones, at that moment you are hearing the preaching of Christ.