Hearing is a verb
It all began with Bill Johnson drawing attention to Romans 10:17 where Paul writes, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ”. In the authorised version, it’s referred to as the word of God. But in the Greek, it’s the word of Christ. That’s an important distinction because it is through hearing the word of the Anointed one that we receive the living word. He is the mediator who makes the voice of God real to us. That is what He’s anointed for. He is the Christ, anointed for us.
I realised after hearing what Bill had to say about the word hearing there being a verb in the present continuous tense that in the past, I have always interpreted that verse as faith comes by having heard the Word of God. But actually faith comes by hearing. That is, in the present moment, having ears that are open to hear what God is saying now. That is what brings faith that is alive.
This links in my mind with Jesus’ answer to the temptation of Satan in Matthew 4:4, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” That is present tense – it’s coming now. We live by that word. So, faith comes by hearing God’s voice and the hearing that is activated to enable us to hear that voice is brought about by the word of Christ. He, the Anointed messenger of God, second person of the Trinity, man as he designed us to be, speaks to us and brings us the word that opens our ears to hear the voice of God.
This challenges me about the nature of my thinking about God. Theology has so often been the definitive thing for Bible-believing Christians and yet if faith is something alive and real, growing, nurtured by the Spirit of God, theology is more like the stake hammered into the ground to provide support for a growing tree or the scaffolding that enables builders to put up a beautiful building. Theology is not the end product. It is something that enables the end product to grow and become what it should be. Our doctrines are important but should never be definitive for our relationship with God. In the end it’s the Holy Spirit who activates the words of God in us so as to create living representatives of God. That is true theology. Without the power of the Holy Spirit theology is static, a dead thing. Knowing more of it may simply enable us to become more religious. But filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, our theology is something which we build in relationship with God. It is dynamic, even kinetic. It moves us and moves others. When you think about it, this has to be the way it is. If Jesus is the truth, then the truth about God can never be just propositional (although we can have certain true propositions about God), but it is personal. It is not a matter of definitions but a matter of life. Jesus is the Truth. He is perfect theology.
So whatever we think we know about God always has to be tested against the one who is the Word of God. By breathing his word into us he seeks to make us living statements of the truth about God. Just as he is the Word, so we are little words from God being spoken by the breath of God passing through the diaphragm of his creation so as to speak us into being.
Without the breath, we are simply not alive.