Have you heard the (good) news?
An article came out recently reporting that we lose a percentage of our hearing every ten years. It helps to explain why children are so sensitive to sounds, even sounds that seem out of the range of adult hearing.
It explains why I have been “cupping” my ear and moving a bit forward on my seat to hear what people are saying to me.
Although my hearing is not so good, and my sight is not great either, at least I can read the Scripture and benefit from it this way. It’s important to remember that many times throughout history scripture was actually passed on through oral transmission (someone reads it out loud to other people). In fact, the New Testament letters often were read out loud to the congregations.
Additionally, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was spoken to people all over the world, starting in Jerusalem.
One thing the New Testament repeats in various places is the idea of hearing this Gospel and how it affects those who hear:
For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. -1 Thessalonians 2:13
For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. -Hebrews 4:2
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
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
It’s important to keep in mind that each of these have a broader context that should be read (or, heard). However, the result (or mutual effect) of hearing the Gospel is faith. In other words, this faith is different from what we might consider faith in our culture.
It is the passive hearing that produces/is mixed with faith. Someone proclaims that Jesus has been crucified for the forgiveness of your sin and raised eternal for your justification, and that person believes. And, this faith is given by God only, not produced by our force of will.
The models of people having to go up at an altar-call, or pray a sinner’s prayer, or ask Jesus into their heart simply have no basis in the New Testament. They might be the result of a person who has been “quickened” by the Holy Spirit, but this means they have been born again (born from above) before their activity (whatever form that may take). In other words, salvation is actively distributed on God’s part, but passively received as He gives us faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
We get to partake in this salvation of others as we proclaim Christ and Him crucified according to the scripture. Even by just reading the scripture aloud to another, the seed of His Word is being planted in the ears of the hearers.
And this birthing word emanates from the inspired, inerrant Word of Scripture which proclaims a Savior from Genesis to Revelation.
This Gospel is external to us. Whether you read it or hear it, God is in it, which means that this is an excellent place to hear the incarnated deity who is saving us.