“I can understand why Romans 10:17 might say, ‘faith cometh by hearing the Word of God.’ Why does it rather say, ‘faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God’?”
It is sometimes taught that an unsaved sinner is so spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) that he cannot even hear the Word of God in the gospel, let alone respond to it in faith. It is argued that if you go to a funeral and tell the deceased to rise up out of the coffin, he cannot even hear the words of your command, let alone respond to it. It is then argued from this that the Spirit must first regenerate a lost sinner so that he can hear the gospel and believe it.
While that sounds logical, the Lord Jesus gave a different explanation for how a sinner who is “dead in sins” is “quickened” (Eph. 2:5) when He said,
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
The Lord here asserts that His words “are spirit.” That is, His words have the spiritual power to raise a dead sinner from spiritual death. The Lord also taught that His words “are life.” Thus, if a sinner must be given life in order to be able to hear the gospel, then the Lord’s words are able to give a dead sinner all the life he needs to hear and respond to the gospel in faith.
This is why Romans 10:17 is worded in that manner. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, to be sure, but even the hearing comes by the Word.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.