The Funny Thing About Faith

Jan 5, 2015 1639

by-faithHave you ever been to Asia at Christmas-time? They love Christmas. There are Christmas carols and Christmas decorations everywhere. Unless you knew otherwise, you’d think that it was a traditionally Christian part of the world!

Faith for Christians is a bit like Christmas in Asia. We talk about it, preach about it and sing about it – we all love it – but we so little understand it!

What do I mean?

Well, we say we are saved by grace, and then we turn around and say that we are saved by our faith.

And here’s another thing… many Christians think (and act as if) that God looks down and does a faith check, and if our faith levels are high enough he saves us or blesses us, and if not he moves on.

It’s as if faith is something that we spontaneously develop out of our evil sinful human natures. And what’s even more amazing, then we go on to nurture and develop faith within ourselves through a range of spiritual disciplines such as prayer and studying God’s word – and for some people, through fasting and the mortification of the flesh and the renunciation of the world. If we are able to do this, against all odds, then God will look down from heaven, smile upon us, and accept and keep us as his.

If faith were like that, then faith would be a human work and we would be saved by works. Faith would be the most impossible and horrific of all works. And no one would be saved.

But it’s not like that at all.

Here is the most important thing that we need to know about faith: it’s a gift from God. This is repeated assertion of the New Testament in many places and in many ways. Consider this key text –

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8–9, NIV

The reference to the “gift of God” in this verse refers to faith itself. Of ourselves, we can do nothing to deserve salvation – by ourselves we cannot even believe.

But we can humbly accept the gift of faith. And God will pour faith into our hearts, so that we may deposit it in the name of Jesus Christ and be saved through his grace.

Like that desperate father of a demon-possessed child, who cried out to Jesus,

        “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NKJV)

our very first prayer should not be for anything else other than faith.

– Eliezer Gonzalez

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