So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 NASB
Hearing – When we first examined this verse (August 17, 2011), we noted that this is Paul’s shema. Although written in Greek, Paul clearly has the Hebrew verb shama in mind. And as we know, shama means both “to hear” and “to obey.” In Paul’s thought, faith is the result of hearing/obeying and hearing/obeying is specifically hearing/obeying the word of the Messiah. Of course, this leaves us with the question, “What is the word of the Messiah?” but the answer is not difficult to find. “All that I have commanded you” coupled with Yeshua’s proclamation of the eternal value of Torah should point us to the same code of conduct that He followed. We are left with the obvious conclusion that faith is doing what God says to do. What could be simpler?
The problem comes with the conversion of the idea of faith as action to the idea of faith as proposition. Converted to Greek thought, faith becomes the mental assent to the truth of gospel proclamations. In other words, once faith was what I did in loyal obedience to my deliverer. Now it is agreeing that the deliverer did it.
Part of this conversion from verb to noun is the confusion of faith and salvation. We should have seen this coming. After all, John uses the word “faith” or one of its derivatives 92 times in his gospel but he never uses it as a noun. It is always a verb. Our problem is not the text. The text is pretty clear. Our problem is that the Greek worldview rests on nouns – people, places and things. And from a Greek perspective, salvation is a thing. It is something granted to me. It is mine. Once received, I own it. Salvation is the gate-pass out of here and as long as I have the gate-pass I am leaving. In this view, salvation is the certificate that guarantees me a place in the afterlife. It was purchased for me on Calvary and I can keep it safe until it is needed.
There’s only one problem. If faith is a verb, then it exists only when the actions it describes are in process. Since salvation is a result of faith, it is impossible to think of salvation as something that exists independently of behavior. If I am not doing faith, then I don’t have salvation either. Oswald Chambers offers a telling remark: “All the great blessings of God are finished and complete, but they are not mine until I enter into relationship with Him on the basis of his covenant.” I have to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, not because God hasn’t accomplished all that was needed for me to be saved but because salvation is found in the dynamic of my interaction with God. If I choose to act as though I possess the certificate but nothing further is required, I choose to abandon the dynamic of the relationship, and that means the relationship stops and my certificate is nothing more than a worthless piece of paper. In Hebrew thought, I have what I do. Salvation exists in the acts of grace produced by God and by me.
Topical Index: grace, hear, obey, shema, salvation, Romans 10:17
 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, December 6th.