Hearing Is Believing
Last week we looked at the seal or mark put on us by God through the Holy Spirit, as told in Ephesians 1:13-14. But there’s even more to explore in these two verses, so today’s let’s take a peek at another nugget of truth Paul reveals here about how the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Eph 1:13-14 NASB
The word translated “listening” in this passage is the Greek ἀκούω (akouō) and is most often rendered ‘hearing’ or ‘to hear’. This word is used many times in the New Testament in reference to people coming to a saving faith. Paul used it multiple times in Ephesians as he reminded his readers of the beginning steps of their faith and confession. Christ also used this word when opening parables and when counselling those “who have ears, let him hear” (cf: Mark 4:9). And its counterpart ἀκοή (akoē - to hear and understand) is in an often-quoted passage that Paul wrote, Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing (akoē), and hearing by the word of Christ.”
An interesting contrast is how Scripture warns us to be careful not to be deceived by what we see. In fact, after His resurrection, Christ admonished His disciple Thomas for doubting and refusing to believe until he saw the risen Lord. After revealing His wounds to Thomas, He then says, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:29
In other accounts, Jesus scolded the crowds and religious leaders for demanding to see signs and wonders as evidence of His deity. Luke 11:29 records, “As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah.”” Jesus also warned His disciples not to be deceived by what they saw. In Matthew 24:24 He said, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”
This serves as a good reminder that our eyes can betray us. Just watch any modern Hollywood movie and almost everything is entirely CGI, but sometimes it looks so real it is hard to dispute. The same is true with the so-called “Deep Fake” videos that put real people in places they never were. Our eyes are incredible gifts from the Lord, but they shouldn’t always be trusted, especially when it comes to our spiritual discernments.
On the other hand, we can tell from Scripture’s many references that our faith comes through what we hear (akoē). This is important because it confirms we don’t need to witness miracles or amazing signs and wonders for our faith to begin or be confirmed, we simply need to hear the Gospel and believe.
Many atheists and agnostics claim not to believe in things they cannot see, which is a senseless argument because, as we know, we can’t see the wind, or gravity, or radio waves, but they obviously exist. In the same way, we should never doubt God’s majesty, power, might, and sovereignty because of what we do or don’t see being physically manifested. Instead, trust God’s Word – that is our source of truth.
As we close, remember it’s upon every believer to validate what we see and hear against Scripture. False teachers love to distort God’s Word and perform magic tricks to deceive people. From so-called glory dust to televised healing conferences, if what we see doesn’t line up with God’s Word, trust that uneasy feeling the Holy Spirit gives and close your eyes and your ears immediately. We must diligently study and memorize Scripture so that we can train our spiritual senses to discern between what God is doing and what is evil (cf: Hebrews 5:11-14).
We very well may witness healings and miracles of God, but these should never be sought after as evidence of His power or our salvation. As Jesus said, blessed are those who did not see and yet believed.