Many believe that faith is something we can work up in ourselves anytime we want to. It is a mere matter of gritting our teeth, clinching our fists, and determining to believe. Therefore, it is commonly taught within today’s contemporary church that anybody can be saved at any time they take a notion to believe. However, the teaching of the Bible flies in the face of this common teaching found within today’s contemporary church.
According to the Bible, faith is a gift that must be given to us by God. For instance, in Ephesians 2:8-9, the Apostle Paul writes these familiar words, “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.” Notice, Paul says that the faith we exercise to be saved by God’s grace is “not of ourselves: it is a gift of God.” Saving faith, contrary to popular opinion, is not something we can work up within ourselves whenever we take a notion to. Instead, it is a “gift of God”; it is something God must give us!
Where does faith come from? The Bible tells us it comes “by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Many mistakenly misinterpret this to mean that faith comes from reading the Bible or from hearing it taught or preached. Yet, the Greek word Paul uses in this verse for “word” means the “spoken word,” not the “written word.” Faith never happens until the written Word is quickened off the sacred page and spoken directly and personally to a human heart by the Holy Spirit of God.
Faith doesn’t come from reading the Bible or from hearing it preached or taught. I’ve known atheists who have read the Bible through several times. Furthermore, many an unbeliever has been perched on a church pew for years under the preaching of the gospel. Though they are “ever learning,” they are “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6-7).
While we are completely capable of conjuring up a spurious faith that never leads to salvation (see examples: Luke 8:13; John 2:23-25; Acts 8:9-24; 1 Corinthians 15:2), saving faith must be given to us by God. It only comes when God quickens the written word off of the sacred page and makes it come alive in our hearts. Once the Holy Spirit transforms the written word into the spoken word by speaking it to us directly and personally, faith is born in our hearts. It is then—and only then—that we can be saved by God’s grace through faith in His Son.
I praise you Lord Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. I ask you to give the gift of saving faith to those lost souls for whom I am burdened. Lord, speak your Word personally to them through the person of the Holy Spirit so that faith will be born in their hearts, enabling them to believe and be saved by your amazing grace. Amen.