Before realizing just how powerful faith is, we must first begin with asking: what is faithlessness? Faithlessness can be summed up in a very simple way: our natural state. We are born without faith and into a world where there is not one that is good in the heart. To believe in God, it must require seeking God. This creates a problem when the bible speaks of our natural state as human beings and how our nature cannot naturally accept the concept of faith, for in our natural state we are separated from God, entirely.
Paul puts it best in 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV), “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” We must realize a dark truth about humanity when it comes to faith: it is impossible to have faith. In Hebrews 11:1, faith is described as being the evidence of what is not seen, specifically the glory of Christ, enough to where a person would fall on their knees and cry for Almighty God to save them.
Man has rebelled against God, thereby causing an eternal separation that cannot be resolved through human strength, will, or intellect for the Scriptures points out in 1 Corinthians 1:25 (ESV), “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Even if you could scale the weakest representation of God’s strength, the scale would still dramatically side with the weakest demonstration of God than the most outstanding display of the strength of the mortal creation. We have fallen with Adam, and no matter how hard we can try, we can’t accept the things of God, which includes faith. Faith is something that is considered foolishness in our eyes.
Nevertheless, there is good news. Though we mere mortals who were made from dust, and shall return to it, God had an immeasurable grant of mercy. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) gives us a glimpse of what faith does, where does it come from, and how is it given. This is what the text says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This is one of the most quoted passages of scripture. Children in Sunday school, Awana groups attendees, and students in youth groups are told to memorize this verse, yet the people memorizing don’t bother to look at the deep message Paul was trying to communicate through the power of the Holy Spirit: faith is a gift!
Think about what this means! If faith is a gift, then it’s not earned (you can’t work for it), it is not asked (you can’t beg for it), and it is not deserved (we are too separated from God to deserve a free gift). If faith is a gift, and the only way to come to salvation is through faith, how can we possibly come to salvation? It’s impossible, borrowing from the words of our Lord, to “put new wine into old wine skins”. The gift of faith is solely the work of the Holy Spirit, and this is done to give God the due glory and honor forever.
The way the bible describes the salvation process is simple: God sends the Holy Spirit to begin the work of regeneration within the heart of the individual. Then, the gift of faith is given unto the person for repentance. Faith is not an instrument of salvation, but rather a sign of salvation. Faith is a beautiful work of God’s grace that is bestowed unto those He called. Every believer agrees that the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer who is the true elect of Christ. So, why is faith one of the gifts of the spirit described in 1 Corinthians 12? Why is faith limited to believers? Can’t faith be found in any religion? Faith is only found in the supernatural work of saving grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is such a remarkable work of God that faith is given, rather than earned, for it would’ve been impossible to earn such a gift that gives back so much more.
Why Paul revered faith so highly is because faith is the very backbone behind how we came to salvation. It is the glorious providence of God, which gives proof to His existence and to walk according to His commands. How do we know it endures? In John 10:27-28 (ESV): “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Faith will endure till the end of time. Christ, who is the mediator between us and the Father, assures us that we are secure in Him alone, when we walk by faith. Faith is more than the sign of salvation; faith is also our security. Because we have faith, we know we are saved. So when the writer of Hebrews wrote of how faith is “the evidence of things not seen” by prophets, such as Moses, David, and Abraham, he also was trying to convey that they found solace in the faith God gave them, and so should we.
May the world look and marvel at the miracle of faith and may God bestow upon them this great gift that the bride of Christ is so fortunate to have. May the children of God thank the Father for such a marvelous deed he has done: that we should come to faith and be made righteous through the precious blood of Christ. And finally, may we, as Hebrews 10:22 (ESV) puts it, “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
Soli Deo Gloria.