The Gifts Part 8
Although saving faith is a gift from God, we cannot confuse with the gift of faith which comes via the Holy Spirit. Saving faith is a gift from God in the sense that it is facilitated and enabled of God, but it comes via the hearing of the Word of God, or the hearing of the Holy Scriptures. The hearing of the Word of God is the vehicle, or the delivery system, by which the gift of saving faith is given to man, because as the selfsame word tells us, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Saving faith cannot be birthed in anyone’s heart independently, or in and of itself, it must be the result of having heard the word of God. What is born independently within the hearts of men, that which can appear in and of itself in those who have as yet not heard the word of God, is a vague and abstract notion of a divine force, but not an understanding of the one true God. Only by the hearing of the word of God can saving faith be birthed in men’s hearts, and this is why we must preach the word of God to those who are lost and dying.
We are not doing anyone any favors by omitting the word of God from our sermons; we are not doing anyone any favors by obfuscating what our responsibilities as children of God are and thereby rejecting the mandate to preach the gospel of Christ. In our ceaseless quest to spare feelings and make people feel comfortable and at ease within the house of God, we have ceased doing the one thing that is able to birth saving faith in their hearts, namely preach the word of God that they might hear it. No amount of self-esteem, no amount of self-worth, no amount of feeling good about one’s fallen state will bring a sinner to repentance or to the foot of the cross, only the hearing of the word and the stirring of saving faith in their hearts.
Our God gives us a living faith, He gives us a saving faith, it is the gift He gives to those who hear the Word and turn to Him with all their heart. It is in the word of God that we discover the Christ, it is in the word of God that we discover what Jesus did for us on the cross, it is in the word of God that we discover that we were bought with a price, and we are no longer our own.
It is also interesting to note that not all are given the same measure of faith, but that God deals to each one the measure of faith that He sees fit.
Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
So what does this mean? It means that the same message, the same exact word, the same exact scripture reading will have a different effect on every individual. One might not react to the word in the same way, with the same passion, with the same brokenness, as his neighbor, or as someone sitting three rows behind him. To each is dealt a measure of faith, not because God is unjust, because He is not, but because everyone receives the word of God differently, even though the same word is spoken to all.
God gives to all in like manner, the abundance of His word is the same for everyone, but He cannot force you to receive more than what you are willing to receive, and in the end the measure of faith we are dealt is directly proportional to how much we are willing to receive.
Although saving faith is given to each one, in the measure that God chooses, the gift of faith, is given to some, or as Paul writes in Corinthians, ‘to another faith by the same Spirit’. By this distinction, by the fact that saving faith is given to all who receive the word of God, and the gift of faith is given to some, we realize that these are two different aspects, two different works of faith, one being general, the other being a gift imparted by the Holy Spirit to those whom He so chooses.
Although God deals to each one a measure of faith, it is possible to grow in faith as one matures and progresses in their walk with the Lord. Paul even went so far as to praise the church of Thessalonica, and thank God for them, because their faith was growing exceedingly.
Yes, we can grow in faith, we can grow in God, and we do so by hearing His word continuously, by cementing our relationship with Jesus, by spending time in prayer, and by walking on the narrow path that He has set out for us.
Saving faith not only grows us in God, it gives us the boldness and courage to knock on the doors of heaven with the expectation of receiving the promises of God.
Some time ago we discussed Jesus cursing the fig tree, and the disciples marveling at what He had done, and looking at them Jesus assured them that they would be able to do far greater things if only they had faith, and did not doubt. The faith, of which Jesus spoke, was not the gift of faith which comes from the Holy Spirit, but the saving faith which is given to all who hear and receive the word of God. So yes, there is great power in saving faith, there is great power in believing and not doubting, in standing on the promises of God, and living with the expectation of receiving all that He promised His beloved.
Matthew 21:22, “And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
These were not the words of men, but the words of Christ Jesus, who assured us, that whatever we ask believing we would receive.
At this juncture some might ask why I rail against the prosperity doctrine so often if Jesus promised that we would receive whatever we ask in prayer believing, and the answer is a simple one. If we are of Christ, we have been born again, renewed of mind and heart, renewed in our desires and wants, and when we pray believing, that which we pray for will not be material in nature, it will not be money and jewels and boats and cars, but rather that which we pray for believing will be the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the power of God, and the greater things to which the children of God have access to. The reason I rail against the prosperity doctrine is because due to its popularity a great many of God’s children settle for scraps, for worthless, trivial, passing things that do nothing to mature and grow them in the faith.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.