In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul lists down faith as a gift of the Holy Spirit. So if faith is indeed a Spiritual gift to some believers and not all, how in the world are we all supposed to be saved by faith alone? Are we all not supposed to walk by faith? Isn’t it also written in the Scripture that without faith it is impossible to please God?
To be clear, the Scripture talks about faith in three different ways. Firstly, there is the Saving faith – No one can go to heaven without saving faith in Christ. Secondly, there is the Walking faith – A daily living faith in absolute trust and confidence in the living God. And thirdly, there is the Gift of faith – A spiritual gift of the Holy Spirit to some believers.
So, what is that gift of faith? It is the Holy Spirit given ability to see something that God wants to be done for His glory before it happens (not afterwards). It is the ability to sustain unwavering confidence in the promises of God in the face of impossibility. It is the ability to discern the will of God and stand firm on that will of God regardless of the obstacles. It is the ability to believe and hold on to the promise of God for something that is honouring and glorifying to God, even when everybody else has given up.
This gift of faith is not a blind faith, but it is confident faith. It is not irrational faith, but it is an absolute God trusting faith. It is not wishful thinking, but God honouring faith. It is not a self-absorbed faith, but it is a self-emptying faith. For example:
- Jesus saw the resurrection even though He was hanging on a cross (John 2:19). In John 11, when Jesus went into the cemetery to raise Lazarus from the dead. He started praying saying, “Thank you Father that you already raise Lazarus from the dead.”
- When Noah was building a boat in the middle of the desert, he had to endure much criticism and ridicule, but he did not doubt the will of God, because it was revealed to him.
- When Nehemiah went on his mission to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem, his enemy tried to trick him, his people doubted him, his friends even tried to discourage him, but he went on building that wall anyway, knowing full well that the gracious hand of God was upon him.
- When Moses was dealing with Pharaoh who tried to persuade him to compromise and obey God only partially, Moses refused, and he departed from that land of slavery in Egypt with all the Israelites.
- Joseph’s dream was thrown into the pit, it was tempted by an immoral woman, shattered in the prison dungeon of Egypt, but the dream never died simply because he knew it was God’s dream.
- When David, the shepherd boy, faced Goliath, the champion, his confidence was in the Lord who delivered him from the paw of lions and bears. And so, David could confidently say to Goliath (1 Sam 17), “The Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel is on my side and He will deliver you Goliath into my hand.”
“Ezra on his mission to rebuild the temple could have asked for an armed escort, but knowing full well that God’s hand was upon him, he felt that a request for protection would dishonour the Lord in the eyes of the pagan king (Neh. 2:9). Fourteen years later, Nehemiah didn’t hesitate to request an armed escort from the king, and Paul was glad for the Roman soldiers who protected him during his journey from Jerusalem to Caesarea (Act 23).” – Warren W. Wiersbe
“Undoubtedly the Lord gave Ezra special faith for this journey because He knew that Ezra’s desire was only to glorify God. Here were several thousand Jews, inexperience in travel and warfare, carrying a fortune in gold and silver, led by a scholar, not a soldier, and planning to travel through dangerous territory that was infested with brigands, and yet their leader didn’t want an army to protect them! If anybody deserves the “Great Faith Award,” it’s Ezra!” – Warren W. Wiersbe
I believe with all my heart that the gist of what the apostle Paul is saying in Romans 13 is that there are no circumstances under which a believer ought to use violence or take the law into their own hands. In 2 Corinthians 10:4, the apostle Paul was saying in effect that we ought not to use carnal weapon in our warfare. Weapons of the flesh may temporary succeed but weapons of the Spirit will permanently succeed; Weapons of the flesh may achieve some result, but weapons of the Spirit will achieve eternal results; Weapons of the flesh may for a moment give you the upper hand, but the weapon of the Spirit will give you real victory. For this reason is why I believe we can achieve far more on our knees.
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed fervently that it would not rain, and so it did not rain for three and a half years. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit (James 5:17-18). Most of us, if we get outnumbered 1 to 2, that’s really bad, we feel terrible. If we get outnumbered 1 to 20 that’s a disaster of epic proportion. But to get outnumbered 850 to 1, I can’t even imagine it. 850 people looking at you and saying you are wrong, what you believe is wrong, imagine that? That was where Elijah was at one point in his earthly life (1 Kings 18). He stood alone in front of 850+ establishment and the leadership of the country, and he prayed to God, and God answered him by fire literally.
Our problem today is that we constantly look for public opinion polls before we look to formulate our own opinion, we are forever looking to what others are doing before we determine our course of action, but that does not please the Lord. Private obedience over public opinion polls is always honouring to the Lord. The word of God is not for us to vote on. Faith is expressed in absolute unquestioned obedience to the word of God.
And if we saw in Noah, the duration of faith, we see in Abraham the depth of faith. When God makes a promise, Faith has to believe it, Hope has to anticipate it, and Patience has to awaits it. Patience means never give up on God’s promises.
- Abraham waited for 25 years. He went through all kind of temptation, but the promise was fulfilled after 25 years.
- Noah waited for 120 years before he saw a drop of rain come down from heaven.
- Jeremiah was told to minister to people who were going to hate him, people who would not believe him, people who would mock him, but he continued ministering patiently to them.
- The apostle Paul endured all sort of hardship, imprisonment, beatings, and persecution, but he endured patiently because he knew that Christ would fulfil his promises for him.
“For centuries “How long?” has been the cry of suffering people, especially the people of Israel (Psalms 74:9-10; 79:5; 80:4; 89:46; Habakkuk 1:2). “How long?” is even the cry of the martyred saints in heaven (Rev. 6:10).” – Warren W. Wiersbe.
In the middle east, there is a saying that goes something like this, “Patience is a tree whose root is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” The apostle Paul counted all his accomplishment and wealth as worthless for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ alone. He was willing to go to any length, travel any distant, endure any hardship, forbear any insult, persevere any indignity, cope with any harassment, and stoop to any level in order that people might know Jesus Christ. That was the cry of his heart.
I personally think patience is a very hard lesson to learn in this day and age. At times, I find myself to be very patient waiting on God’s timing, and at other times, I find myself to be very impatient not wanting to wait for His timing. I’ve learnt the hard way on occasions the consequences of not waiting on His time, and I rather not choose to learn the hard way again by His grace. I do draw much encouragement when I remember His promise (Isaiah 40:31) which tells me “Strength will rise, as I wait upon the Lord.” I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).
In regard to the exercising the gift of faith, this is what Jesus is saying to us today, just as He did over 2000 years ago when He spoke these words to his disciples (Mark 11:23):
“Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,‘ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”
Mountain here is a symbol of any obstacle that stands in one’s way, it is a symbol of something that seems permanent and unwavering. There is a time to speak to God about your mountain, and there is a time to speak to your mountains. I don’t know of any literal mountain in the world that has ever been completely moved and cast into the sea, but I’ll conclude by sharing a faith moving mountain story I once heard.
In 1973, there was a small church in Netcong New Jersey that was facing an apparent impossibility. They had just built a small new sanctuary on a piece of land that was recently acquired by the small congregation. Unfortunately, the sanctuary was deemed not to have adequate parking space, and for that reason, the city council refused to grant them what is called a certificate of occupancy. Having already used up all the space in the area, there was nothing left, except the mountain (40,000 square yards in this case) the sanctuary sat against. This was a real dilemma for the small church as they were already stretched to their limit financially.
On a Sunday morning, the church pastor (Ray Crawford) stood up and reminded the congregation of the promise of Jesus in Matthew 17:20, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it would move, nothing shall be impossible for you.” He then announced that on Wednesday night that there would be a prayer meeting in the sanctuary, and that only those with the gift of faith who truly believed that God was going to move the mountain they were facing should attend the prayer meeting. Few people did show up for that prayer meeting, and they prayed together in agreement and held on to that promise of God for their church.
The following day after the praying meeting, pastor Crawford got a phone call from a local telephone company. The representative of the company explained hesitantly to the pastor that they were in the process of constructing a high rise building on the other side of town, and that they needed to fill up a swamp in other to get their construction going. Somehow this telephone company knew that the church had a mountain by their sanctuary, and having done their homework, they also discovered that the mountain had the exact right proportion of sand, clay, and rock required to fill up the swamp. So within weeks, the telephone company took away 40,000 square yards of fill from the sanctuary area. But that’s not all, they paved the ground for the parking space and donated a substantial amount of money to the church. This is a mountain moving faith!