How does one hear the Gospel? This is a crucial question as faith comes through hearing according to Romans 10 : “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:14-17 (ESV)
But here is the problem, based on this scripture there are some, and I hear echoes of it more and more who are saying one cannot come to faith from reading their Bible, or some other tract, etc. According to some the only way the gospel is spread is by the preached word. And to some might even be limited to that which happens on Sunday morning from the pulpit.
I get tired of this sort of thing rather quickly. The Gospel is the Gospel in what ever form it comes in, and if it is the gospel then the Holy Spirit is using it to bring people to faith. Yes, it is rare but people reading a bible in their hotel room do come to faith. The Holy Spirit works through things like that.
I thought this thought was some sort of new fad among the fringe of a few who consider themselves confessional. But then the other day reading Pieper I came across this:
“ Furthermore, the Gospel is such a means of grace in every form in which it reaches men, wether it be preached (Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47) or printed (John 20:31; 1 john 3-4) or expressed as a formal absolution (John 20:23) or pictured in symbols or types (John 3:14-15) or pondered in the heart (Rom 10:8) and so forth. Some recent Lutheran theologians too, have assailed the inspiration of Scripture with the strange contention that not the read, but only the preached word is a means of grace. … To appeal to Rom 10:17 Gerhard has given the sufficient answer: “the Statement (Rom 10:17) that ‘faith cometh by hearing’ is not to be understood as excluding the written Word, but as including it, as meaning that God works faith and salvation not only through the oral Word but also through the written word, since it is and remains one and the same Word whether it is preached and heard or written and read.”