About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Can Faith Ever Be A Gift From God?

As a result of my last article concerning faith being a trusting commitment to Jesus, and not a commodity that you can get more of, someone suggested that faith could be a gift from God as well. If faith could be a gift, you still need to understand faith as trusting in Jesus, and not a commodity. Therefore you might ask, "can the ability to trust Jesus be received from Gad as a gift, or is it always something that is generated from within us and strengthened through trials "? Hereís my answer.

There is an interesting phrase in Rom. 12:3 that sheds some light on this subject. Paul tells his readers to think soberly (good idea) "in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you". The Greek word merizo" is translated in the NIV as "has given". This word means "to divide". Thus according to Paul, God "divides out" faith, or trust, in certain measures to people. In this sense of the word, faith, or trust in Jesus is something that comes down from Heaven as a gift. So does this nullify my thinking that faith is not a commodity that can be portioned out in bits and pieces? Not really.

First of all let me fill you in on a little theological history. Some people over the centuries have believed that man is so depraved that he is not capable in the least to have faith, or trust in Jesus on his own. Romans 1 and 2 is where these people find some support for their position. These people say that God needs to give us the initial faith we need to be saved because we donít have the ability within us to have this faith.

On the other hand, others have believed that man is capable of believing on his own and that a certain measure of faith is resident within everyone. They say that we have the ability to trust in Jesus because we trust in all sorts of other things in our lives. These people say that God doesnít have to get us jump started with an initial gift of faith.

So who is right? I think there is an element of truth on both sides of the issue. From my understanding of Romans 1 and 2 it is clear that all mankind is "totally depraved", meaning, there is no good within man when compared to Godís standard of goodness. So it we donít have the ability to trust Jesus on our own, we need Godís help. If we do have this ability, this ability is greatly defective. Either way, we still need Godís help.

Therefore faith, or trust is "divided out" by God to all those who call on Him to be saved. We do have the ability to cry out to Jesus from the bottom of our hearts. You may call this crying out "faith", or you may simply call it a cry for help. Whatever the case, God hears us, and "divides us out a measure of faith, or trust in Jesus" as a gift to help us get started in our new life of trusting Jesus. I believe this is what Rom. 12:3 means.

Once receiving this measure of faith, we begin our new life of trusting Jesus where He provides the opportunities to trust Him more. This means trials, which is the point to my first article.

To help explain this you can draw a circle on a piece of paper. Inside the circle are the things you trust Jesus for, and outside the circle are the things you donít trust Him for. What Jesus will do is try to make your circle larger by providing opportunities to trust Him for things that are a short distance outside your circle. He works on these things, not things that are far from the line, so not test to you beyond your capabilities. In this way, the circle of trust is slowly expanding outward. The expansion of your circle is not an easy process.

There is also one other aspect of faith being a gift and that is found in 1 Cor. 12:9. Paul says that there is a type of faith that is a "gift of the Spirit". This faith is clearly a gift. It is something different than trusting Jesus on a daily basis, as I have been talking about. This is a special ability, a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit that enables one to trust in Jesus for something that is not humanly possible to trust Him for. This faith is still trust (not a commodity) and is only given to those whom the Holy Spirit chooses. This type of trusting is clearly a gift that drops out of Heaven, but still not a commodity.

So in one sense of the word, faith, or trust, can be a gift that falls from Heaven. Still the vast majority of the time when the Bible speaks of faith, it is speaking of a trusting commitment to Jesus as Lord that takes place on a daily basis. Faith is not a commodity that we can get more of. Remember, "we donít need more trust. We need to trust more".

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