What kind of faith is James talking about here? Some ethereal faith, believing it will all turn out good in the end? Absolutely not!! It’s the kind of faith that sees things changing by the power of God.
Where do we get that kind of faith? Paul tells us the answer to that question.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
This is one of those verses that everyone quotes, but few understand. The NIV uses the word message in its translation; but that word does not appear in the Greek original. It simply reads faith comes by hearing…
The important thing is; what are you hearing? That’s why the Apostle Paul goes on to explain that this hearing is by the Word of Christ.
There are many who believe that this verse is talking about reading the Bible. Personally, I don’t believe that’s what it’s referring to. The Greek words being used here say that this faith comes from the rhema of Christ. That means Paul is talking about the Word we hear directly from the Holy Spirit.
For a detailed explanation of this aspect of the Word, click here.
This faith is not simply choosing to believe what the Bible says – as good as that is. It’s a faith that’s birthed on the inside of you by spending time in the Spirit. That’s the kind of faith that James is talking about.
How do I know this? Look at the example James gives to illustrate his point.
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
According to James, Abraham believed God – had faith in His Word – and acted upon his faith. Because of his faith, Abraham took his only son up on a mountain to offer him as a sacrifice to God. When he stepped out in faith, God then looked upon him and credited righteousness to his account.
Why would Abraham do something like that? Because he had faith in God’s Word. What was the Word that inspired this faith? It couldn’t have been the Bible since it wasn’t even begun to be written yet. The truth is that Abraham heard a Word from God and it planted an unwavering faith on the inside of him.
James is telling us that if we want to have this living faith, then we must spend time in God’s presence, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The kind of faith that moves mountains, heals and delivers is only received in a Word from God.
I believe that this is why there’s so little manifestation of the power of God in our generation. Because of the proliferation of Scripture (a good thing), we have replaced intimate time in God’s presence with Bible reading.
Don’t misunderstand me – reading, memorizing, meditating on, and confession of the Scripture is vital for your growth as a believer. But time spent listening for a Word from God is just as important.
Question: What have you heard and obeyed from the Holy Spirit lately?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017