"Faith comes by Hearing … ”
The context in which man finds himself placed by the revelation of God is thoroughly existential. He is involved in the totality of his existence. Through the continuing activity of the ever-present and ever-active Spirit of revelation, man is called upon to respond to the God of revelation. The emergence of faith is the result of the revealing activity of God.
The relation of faith to God’s revealing activity has been described thus: 'Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God' / Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ‘ (Romans 10:17, AV / RSV).
God’s revelatory activity did not end at some fixed point in the past. He continues to reveal Himself to us as he brings us to faith. This present character of God’s revelation is seen in the emergence of faith as our response to ‘the Word of God’ in ‘the preaching of Christ’.
It would be misleading to focus much attention on the word, ‘preaching’, in its narrow sense. Close attention must, however, be paid to the terms, ‘Christ’ and ‘the Word of God’. A proper understanding of the terms, ‘Christ’ and ‘the Word of God’, provides a genuinely historical approach to the doctrine of revelation. To make the continuing activity of the ever-present and ever-active Spirit of revelation the sum-total of the concept of revelation is to have a completely a-historical concept of revelation, which operates with an inadequate understanding of both ‘Christ’ and ‘the Word of God’.
Revelation forms a whole process of which the Bible forms only a part and not the whole. Neither is the whole process exhausted by what takes place in the process of proclamation. God, in His freedom, has willed that the proclamation of the Christian message, with the attendant activity of the Spirit of revelation, be indispensable for the process of revelation to take its full course (1 Corinthians 1:21; Romans 10:14). Proclamation does not, however, constitute the whole process.