There’s more than one kind of faith…
Natural human faith is an attitude of the mind, thinking or determining something is true. It may be based on experiential knowledge, something we have proven to ourselves — if I sit on that chair, it will hold me up. It may be based on facts we accept from others. Two times two equals four. I accepted it as fact, proved it in practice. Principles of electricity I myself have never proved, but since electric lights do work somebody did and so I accept them as fact.
Supernatural faith that saves, heals, protects and provides powerful miracles is an attitude of God’s mind, however. We can’t generate it inside ourselves, it originates in God. Saving faith, living by faith, faith that can grow like a seed, the Gift of Faith – that faith is not natural. Jesus offers it to us and we have to choose to receive it. Here are some definitions:
Faith – Greek noun Pistis – translated faith, assurance, believe (most), fidelity. (Strong’s Concordance 4102)
Conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. Relating to God: the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. Relating to Christ: conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.
Faith / Pistis (above) is derived from the Greek verb Peitho – translated persuade, trust, obey, have confidence in, believe, be confident. (Strong’s 3982)
To persuade, i.e. to induce one by words to believe; to make friends of, to win one’s favor, gain one’s good will, or to seek to win one, strive to please one; to persuade unto, i.e. move or induce one to persuasion to do something; to be persuaded; to be persuaded, to suffer one’s self to be persuaded; to be induced to believe in a thing. Also, to be persuaded of a thing concerning a person; to listen to, obey, yield to, comply with; to trust, have confidence, be confident.
Believe – Greek word pisteuo – verb, translated believe, commit unto, trust. (Strong’s 4100) (This word is related to those above.)
To think to be true, to be persuaded of, to place confidence in the thing believed; used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of the soul.
Faith in God comes from God himself. Eph. 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”
To have supernatural faith is to be persuaded by God that something is true – that He exists, first and foremost. Heb. 11:6 says, “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb. 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” And that Jesus is who he says he is, and can do what he says he can do. (Romans 10:9-10)
This faith must be accepted when offered. God won’t force you to take it. Romans 10:17 tells us, “So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Jesus, the word of God, spoke to the disciples and offered them faith in himself, like handing them a piece of bread: “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22) They did. They accepted it, and so did many others who heard Jesus preach.
Jesus described faith as like a tiny mustard seed – it could grow and accomplish great things. (Matt. 17:20, 21:21) Jesus said about their faith to several desperately sick people who were healed: “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Mark 5:34, woman with issue of blood, Mark 10:52, the blind man.)
Faith grows also as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Paul commended the Thessalonians “because your faith growth exceedingly. (II Thess. 1:3) As we allow God the Holy Spirit more and more access and freedom in our hearts and minds, God’s faith grows in our thinking and believing.
Faith continues to come, growing as we hear God’s word in various forms (sermons, other believers), study the Bible ourselves, listen to the Holy Spirit, learn and exercise faith in obeying Him.
It’s important that our faith grows because we have an enemy (John 10:10, Eph. 6:16) who tries to kill us, make us doubt, sick, broke, or alienated from family and friends. (Not to mention the ordinary challenges of human life.)
The Gift of Faith
In certain circumstances the Holy Spirit will use a person to solve a problem that needs an extraordinary solution, by way of a supernatural Gift of Faith. (Gifts of the Holy Spirit, I Cor. 12. See Gifts of the Holy Spirit below.) God enables that person at a given moment to believe something – be persuaded about something – without human reasoning or logic. The result is that he then prays, commands or does something in the name of Jesus and what he asks or says will come to pass.
This kind of faith is not natural, reasonable or logical: it is supernatural. While God may use some people in this Gift of the Holy Spirit more than others, it’s not usually a permanent enablement like a talent or skill.
A recent example is two teenage girls who lifted a farm tractor off of their father, saving his life. They could not do that in the natural. They wouldn’t even imagine they could do that. But at that moment of extraordinary need, they were enabled to believe they could do it – and they did it.
Faith – being persuaded, believing, having confidence and trust – originates in God, who loves us and gave Jesus to die for us. He offers faith but won’t force anyone to accept it. Once we accept God’s grace of saving faith, we then live (walk) by faith, nurturing and seeing faith grow. When an extraordinary need arises, God may use us with a Gift of Faith to meet it.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Cor. 12:7-11 NIV)
The first group of these is Word Gifts, where God enables a believer to say certain things:
• The gift of prophecy — a message from God for the group or for an individual.
• The gift of tongues — God’s message in a language unknown to the person speaking.
• The gift of interpreting tongues — after God’s message in tongues is given, the person or someone else gives the meaning of it – usually not a word-for-word translation, but an interpretation.
The second group of gifts is Sign Gifts, where God enables a believer to do certain things:
• The gift of faith — God enables a person at a given moment to believe something without human reasoning or logic. The result is that he then prays or speaks (commands) something in the name of Jesus and what he asks or says will come to pass. This kind of faith is not natural, reasonable or logical: it is supernatural.
• The gifts of healing — enables a believer to be God’s instrument to bring healing to someone who is sick, whether spiritual, psychological or physical. Notice – this is the only gift that is plural.
• The gift of miracles — a manifestation of God’s power whereby some obstacle is removed or opportunity seized in a way that could only come from God’s intervention into human affairs. This gift is a sign of God’s presence and power and, therefore, often a source of belief to many.
The third group is Intellectual Gifts, where God enables a believer to know certain things:
• The word of knowledge — God gives a believer certain information he could / would not get from natural sources.
• The word of wisdom — God gives a believer insight into His mind or plan in a given situation and enables him to put this insight into words of advice, understanding, or direction. For instance, how to use the information he gave in a word of knowledge.
• The gift of discerning of spirits — God reveals to a believer the source of certain behavior or action, whether it comes from the Holy Spirit, a human spirit, or an evil spirit.
These gifts are not something we possess permanently like a talent or skill, but ways in which the Holy Spirit reveals Himself through an individual. Usually they are temporary (passing), given as the need arises.
They are meant for the good of others, not simply for and sometimes not even including the person through which God provides a gift. (I like to think of this as being a conduit for the Holy Spirit’s power, like an electrical power cord…)
Our motivation in allowing the Holy Spirit to use us in these gifts is simple — love. God’s love for people who need His ministry, and our love for Him.