Is it significant that Christ is preached? Is it important that Scripture is preached from? In Romans 10:17, the Apostle Paul tells us that faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. What does it mean that faith comes through hearing? What does it mean that they hear the word of Christ? What results from having faith from hearing the word of Christ?
All of us would agree that faith is necessary for salvation. In some areas of Reformed teaching faith is referred to as the “instrumental means” of justification. Or others have called it the “open hand” by which we receive the benefits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. Both of these and others all highlight something special about faith. Faith isn’t something that we can create, force to arise from our own efforts, or be obtained without God. Faith is not something that is from us by nature. If it is not of us by nature, and given to us. Then what has to happen for it to come about? In a mysterious way, it is given to us, and exercised by us. But from how does this faith arise? Through hearing.
It is interesting to think that God has not chosen the faculty of sight, thought, touch, or taste but hearing. Hearing is a passive faculty we possess. Sometimes we hear things we weren’t trying to hear. We may not even be paying attention but we may still hear. You can’t really turn off the function of hearing. You can close your eyes. Shut your mouth. Force your mind to think of something else but hearing is just always on. It’s on when you’re sleeping, talking to someone, on the road, reading, it’s always on. Through hearing God enters us and creates, gives, enables the regenerate person to use that which is given from God. In regeneration we are given new natures. Our heart of stone is removed. Our blind eyes are given sight. Our bones are given flesh. And with this new nature we are enabled now to have faith.
The next question that comes from this is, “What is it that people need to hear?” In Romans 10:17 Paul tells us that faith comes from hearing but what they hear to come to faith is the “word of Christ”. What does it mean that they must hear the word of Christ? There is something that is preached that is distinct from the rest of the world. “Word of Christ” implies that that there is content that is not “word of Christ”. There is something that is sacred while everything else is common/secular. The implication here speaks loudly to us, that by nature the “word of Christ” is revelation. Just as revelation is in the nature of all Scripture, so the word of Christ is revelation of God.
The word of Christ pertains of course to the original teachings of Christ but Scripture was organic. That means that it unfolded from the original through authoritative means (the Apostles and Prophets). Thus the word of Christ was also contained in their writings. And as the word of Christ is proclaimed it creates the society of which it means to rule (the kingdom of God). Thus Scripture shows, as Michael Horton states, a “pattern of work and rest”. The “work” is creating. The “rest” is ruling over the creation.
Through the preaching of Christ, the people of God (the elect) are found and the kingdom is built. It is the word that goes out to find the lost ones in a world of lost people. But only those who know the voice of the savior respond. They come into the Church as they are in Christ. There in the church they hear of their blessed redeemer. There they partake of the holy ordinances of Christ in the sacraments. All of this from the fountain of the word of Christ.