Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hanging onto Every Word

A very well known and popular scholar was invited to speak at a prominent university. The word concerning his visit spread like a wild brush fire around the campus. Many admiring students and professors outside of this scholar's field came to hear him address the topic at hand. Figuring this was the opportunity of a lifetime, they didn't want to miss out. Soon the auditorium was so full, people were sharing seats as well as standing in the back, and along the aisles. A student who was there said, "the occasion was so solemn, every one was in awe, listening and hanging on to every word he said."

If only we gave to God the same type of attention; and would be willing to hang on to every Word He says. How sad that we give more credence to a mere man with impressive credentials than we do to God. You know, despite the audience's attentiveness to the scholar's words, despite their desire to make sure they understood what he said, probably very few of them actually were willing to put that information into practice. And yet, more than anything else, this is what God desires from us, to attentively listen, willingly, eagerly, with the willingness to do. Interestingly, the word translated as obedience from the Greek means exactly this.
And a similar word - akouo - is used in Romans 10:17,

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

Faith comes to us by attentively listening to the word of God, pondering its meaning, and with the willingness to put that Word into practice. To have faith we are to "feed ourselves on every word that comes from the mouth of God." This is what gave power to the words of Jesus as He responded during His temptations to the Devil, "It is written ..." The mere reciting the Word of God will do nothing unless the power of God is in it. The Devil can recite Scripture word for word. The power of the Word comes from and through God Himself.

The word akouo is also used in Galatians 3: 1-5, and refers to the manner in which we receive the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
Galatians 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Galatians 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Galatians 3:4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
Galatians 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Paul questions the Galatians and us, asking if we have received the Holy Spirit by our own efforts, doing what the letter of the law says, or by attentively listening to the word of God, with the willingness to put it in practice. In essence Paul is telling us that the same type of hearing that leads to faith, is the same type of hearing that allows us to receive the Holy Spirit. Not that the Holy Spirit is faith, but it is the Holy Spirit Who provides the Faith that works miracles and the faith that sanctifies us. Folks, let us hang onto every Word that God says, listening eagerly, straining to hear with the willingness to do.

Raúl Díaz & MAria Greaves-Barnes

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