Faith Precedes Understanding – Hearing the Word of God
“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” – Luke 24:13-35
- What does it mean to really believe?
- How is faith born in a person’s heart?
What are the steps a person must take to attain authentic belief and genuine understanding? The first step is this: You must hear the Word of God in your heart. Paul writes in Romans 10:17, “Consequently, faith comes from hearingthe message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
In the scripture above, Jesus joins two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “but they were kept from recognizing him.” Why were they unable to recognize Jesus? I would suggest that Jesus’ body had changed to some extent. He was now in his resurrection body.
However, the primary reason they did not recognize Jesus is found in verse 16: “they were kept from recognizing him.” In other words, God prevented them from recognizing Him. We need to understand something about salvation: it is totally the work of God.
At some point, head belief must become heart belief, and because they did not yet truly believe, the disciples were prevented from seeing who Jesus really is. Faith precedes understanding. The world says, “Seeing is believing!” but the Bible says, “Believing is seeing!” Likewise, man says, “Show me and then I will believe!” but Jesus says, “Believe me and then I will show you.” These two disciples could neither see nor understand until they first believed. That is the way God has ordered things.
Notice what Jesus does as he walks with these two dejected disciples. Verse 27 says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” At that time, “all Scriptures beginning with Moses and all the Prophets” referred to the Hebrew Bible, which we call the Old Testament. Thus, Jesus began to reveal Himself to these two disciples. Imagine having Jesus, the greatest teacher in the world, as your Sunday school teacher.
So what steps must a person take in order to be assured that he or she has authentic faith accompanied by true spiritual understanding? First, you must hear the Word of God with the ears of your heart. Many times throughout the gospels, Jesus says, “Let him who has ears hear.” Do you have ears to hear? Have you truly heard the Word of God with the ears of your heart?
Next week, we will examine the second step that leads to saving faith and spiritual understanding. Remember, faith precedes understanding. Stay tuned. Amen!