What is the Gift of Faith? Doesn’t every Christian have this gift? Isn’t it a kind of pre-requisite for belief in God? And how do you explain faith to someone who doesn’t believe? What does God say? He says that we wouldn’t even have faith in Him at all, if it wasn’t for His gift of grace to us in the first place!
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).
How astounding! I can’t even wrap my head around that one. It was God’s grace that saved me through “faith”, yet it would seem from the verse above that even my faith was a gift from God. I don’t know about you, but that kind of blows my mind.
So how do we define “faith”? The Apostle Paul says it best:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Hebrews eleven is an excellent example of faith in action as Paul goes through many characters in the Bible who had faith – Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and others all had faith in God that what He promised, would come to pass, and they lived their lives based on those promises. Today, Christians have faith that our sins are forgiven because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We have faith that we are saved and will have eternal life, because God promised this to all who believed in His Son. We have faith Jesus will come again because the Bible reveals He will and we have faith that the Bible is the Word of God and it all starts with God’s gift of faith to us in the first place.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Faith is a mystery. Without it we cannot please God and yet we cannot come to God without first believing in Him. So God graciously gives us each a certain measure of faith to believe. But it is up to us on whether or not we will let that faith grow to the point where we say “Yes, Lord I want to know you and know more of you.”
The gospels are full of stories where people were healed by Jesus because of their faith. Jesus often marvelled on the faith of those he healed (Matthew 8:10; 9:22; 15:28; Luke 7:9) and even suggested that it was according to their faith that they were healed (Matthew 9:29). So it is clear that each of us has been granted a measure of faith and it is with this gift of faith that the church grows.
So it would seem that all people have the gift of faith, but it would also seem that faith comes with the measure we have been gifted. For example, there are some whose faith is so great that they tend to live by the “seat of their pants” so to speak. Their trust in God, their deep conviction that He will come through for them is evident in their daily activities and in their ministry efforts. It is scary to step out in faith and trust that God will answer – yet some people do it every day. No food? Don’t worry, God will provide. No money? He will provide that too. But God is not a fool to be tested. In fact the Bible warns us about testing Him (Deuteronomy 6:16; Matthew 4:7). He sees the difference between someone who has the ability to get a job to work for that money, to buy that food, and the difference between someone totally unable to work to provide for their own needs. It is these people who trust in God during the bleakest times, who have that extra measure of faith.
It is people like Corrie Ten-Boom who, along with her family, hid Jews in their home from the Nazis during WWII. But they were captured and sent to a concentration camp and she wondered why God would allow this to happen. But she trusted that He had a plan. So it was her faith that God would keep her Bible (that she had smuggled into the camp), hidden from the guards as they were ordered to strip and get rid of all their belongings. So God hid it from the guards and she was able to hold Bible studies and pray with the women in the camp, leading many to Christ during her time there.
And there is Brother Andrew of Open Doors. He started smuggling Bibles to the persecuted church in Europe in 1955 and saw miracle after miracle. On one occasion he was going through a check point at a Romanian border crossing when he watched as each car going through was literally taken apart as the soldiers tried to find contraband. Brother Andrew started getting nervous because his car was packed with Bibles which were forbidden. How would he hide them? He couldn’t. So he asked God to and God answered in a marvelous way because Andrew had faith that God was leading him to deliver these Bibles. Read what happened next at https://www.opendoorsusa.org/about-us/history/brother-andrews-story/.
There are probably thousands of stories of faith like Brother Andrew’s and Corrie Ten-Boom’s that display not only the power of God, but His love for us. Each of these stories of “great faith” help the church to grow and I personally believe we should be sharing these stories whenever we can because they help to solidify and edify those weak in the faith.
The gift of faith is from God given to us by grace. It grows in strength as we grow in our relationship with God and in our knowledge of Him. Faith comes down to trusting in God. How much you trust Him will determine how much faith you have. But what if you struggle to trust God? You are in good company. The Apostle Peter would struggle so much with trusting in Jesus that he would deny the Lord three times (Matthew 26:69-75). And yet, he went on to lead thousands to Christ, eventually dying on a cross for his beliefs. The point is this, as you grow in the Lord and invest your time in getting to know Him, your knowledge of Him will grow also and so will your faith.
Read Ephesians 4:1-6
If you have been following along in my look at Ephesians you will by now have noticed a theme. Paul was trying to instill in the Gentile converts at Ephesus who they now were in Christ. He was also trying (in a not so subtle way) to remind the Jewish converts that because of Christ, the promises given to the Jews also now belonged to the Gentiles. This, of course, could lead to friction and so since Ephesians chapter one, he has expounded on not only who they are in Christ, but the importance of unity within the body of Christ (aka - the church).
In today's verses Paul is urging the Ephesians to walk in a worthy manner befitting their calling (their vocation) to salvation. This is something I think the church as a whole needs to take to heart. So how do we "walk in unity" with our fellow believers, when so many of us have differing opinions on Scripture and what it says? In today's verses Paul explains how.
Five Ways God Shows Us to Walk
I Follow Fresh Market Friday