“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 8:8)
In last month’s article, entitled “The Gift”, I wrote about the gift of the Holy Spirit, as Peter explained it in Acts 2:38. In this writing I like to look at the Other Gift that makes the first one I wrote about possible, and that gift is faith. So how can we define faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Thus we could paraphrase the word faith and call it trust, trust in God and His promises.
Unlike the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is constant, faith can, and will, at times waver and fluctuate, it can be either weak or strong. There are times in all of our lives when through adversity and trials we become a little despondent and our faith will at that time also become weak as a result of our despondency, which in itself is a sign of lack of confidence and hope. Those times can be overcome through prayer and meditation, so that we draw closer to God and thus restore our trust and our faith. But it is at times like that, that the carnal mind takes over and we tend to dwell more on the worldly aspects of life, rather than the spiritual. It might have been at precisely such an occasion that the Apostle Paul wrote, “For that which I do I understand not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate that I do. For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Rom. 7: 15, 19).
What St. Paul is here pointing out is the conflict between two opposites, namely, Man’s carnal, fleshly nature versus our spiritual nature. Our carnal nature draws us to worldly things, things of our sinful flesh, which pulls us away from God. On the other hand, our spiritual nature, which through our faith and redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, draws us closer to God. When the spiritual man walks and draws closer to God his faith builds upon itself and increases and grows stronger, and the worries and woes of this worldly life will not affect his relationship with his God and Maker. His walk through life will be far less worrisome or stressful because the mind and spirit are one with the Spirit of God. At such times our spirit wants only to please our God and Redeemer. At such times we have joy in our heart and peace in our soul, for we will know in our spirit that we are children of the Ever Living Father, and we will be able to say with St. Paul, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13). Yes, dear friends, that is what faith is all about.
In faith Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker is God, namely the Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem. Through his faith in the Lord, Moses strove to bring the children of Israel to obtain a Kingdom, not an earthly kingdom, but a Kingdom ruled by God, God’s Kingdom here on earth. Through his faith David was able to write all those wonderful Psalms, showing us believers how to commune with God. By faith the prophets wrote to the children of Israel, our forefathers, to admonish them for their sins and errors, yet always pointing to an awesome and glorious future yet in store for them. In faith Job was able to state “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:25, 26)
Faith! O, what an awesome and glorious gift.
In John’s Gospel we read the following words, “And he said, [Jesus talking] Therefore said I unto you that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” (John 6:65). So what would the Father give? Faith, that is what the Father gives to those who are drawn to Christ Jesus, for without faith the carnal mind would not contemplate to draw near unto the Lord, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;” (1Cor. 1:18) Likewise David tells us in Psalm 53 verse one, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none that doeth good.”
So you can see that without a measure of faith we are lost souls. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Now some may argue that grace is the gift, but I personally disagree with that. Grace is an attribute of God that is intrinsically and immutably bound up in God’s ever loving kindness and love for His creation and for His children, His chosen ones. In the New Testament narrative there are three extraordinary gifts mentioned. The first and foremost is that God gave His Only Begotten Son to be a sacrifice for the redemption of His wayward people. Secondly, there is the gift of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to do the tasks that God has assigned to each and every believer. Thirdly, there is this gift of Faith that God grants to all that He calls. But here is the catch, without faith Christ is unattainable as stated in 1Cor. 1:18 and Psa. 53:1, secondly as stated in Acts 2:38, unless we repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, we cannot, and will not, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. So dear brothers and sisters you can thus readily see the importance of this gift of faith, faith is the catalyst that ties it all together, and makes it all possible.
Many folks have read and studied the Bible. Many folks claim that they believe, but so do the agnostics, atheists, communists and yes, even Satan believes, but unless they have faith in God and Jesus Christ, their belief is for nought. Belief is knowledge, whereas faith is trust, trust in the unseen.
And so dear friends, I hope and pray that faith may always abound in us all, without wavering. I hereby close this article with a verse found in the Epistle of John. “For whatever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1John 5:4)
Yes, faith is the victory!