A few weeks back we began our ABC’s of faith with Acquired Faith. That article looked at the beginnings of faith and Romans 10:17. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, NASB95) Sometimes we gain the attitude of one old married gentleman that said to his wife, “I said I loved you once if anything changes I’ll let you know.” Hearing faith is not just for when we initially turn towards Christ, but every day, in every circumstance, and everywhere we go.
Paul was upset with the Galatians. That’s obvious when you read his letter. “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1, NASB95) Paul’s issue was their turning towards religious acts for assurance instead of simple faith. We do the same thing whenever we put conditions on who, what, where, when, and how someone can turn to or live for Christ. Or when we do things to earn God’s favor instead of out of love.
Paul then asked them, “This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:2, NASB95) The answer should have been obvious to them and to us. They received by hearing with faith. Having covered the beginning of faith Paul then asks about its continuation, “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:5, NASB95) Faith not only starts with hearing but continues with hearing. It’s a point we often miss.
The world (and even some in the church) often view hearing from God as spooky, crazy, insanity, or just plain impossible. Yet the Bible is filled with examples of words, visions, prophecy, and still small voices. We know when we’ve read the Bible like any other book and when the Spirit speaks to our heart through the words. Those moments when a truth is revealed, a path is seen, or comfort is felt simply from reading the Bible. In its very pages, there seems to be an expectation of hearing faith. For example, of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) five are directly related to hearing and speaking words leading to faith.
Does everyone that claims to hear God really hear God? – of course not. Some really are crazy, insane, or being manipulative which is why another gift of the Spirit is discerning of spirits. In a different letter Paul encourages his readers and us, “Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;” (1 Thessalonians 5:19–21, NASB95) We need a hearing faith to know the difference.
The larger question is if we are listening or like the Galatians relying on religious actions. God speaks to us in a variety of ways but we often fail to listen for them. Rarely does God speak audibly or with visitation although we’d be a fool to rule it out. Sometimes He speaks through the voice of our mind. Most often through nudges of the heart, tugs of compassion, and the words of Scripture. Occasionally through Spirit induced words of wisdom, knowledge, or visions. More than we know through the words of others. Almost always through nature itself (Romans 1:20). A hearing faith is a listening faith.
God speaking to you doesn’t make you special, it means you are a part of His flock. Jesus said, “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”” (John 10:2–5, NASB95) Hearing faith is part of the normal Christian life. It’s part of who we are as followers of Jesus.