Faith; a gift of God


faithNow faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1

Many people claim to have faith, faith in something or someone, but what is faith from a biblical perspective? Can faith be proven or can it be seen? God’s word says,  that the just shall live by faith and without faith it is impossible to please God.  Can a Christian prove his or her faith to an unbelieving world and how do we explain faith? Paul in writing to the church in Corinth writes: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1Cr 2:14 

Jesus in speaking to Nicodemus who came to Him at night said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 

Jesus is saying,  that without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life, there is no way for them to know God or to see things from a spiritual heavenly view. Unbelievers are blind to the things pertaining to God and His kingdom,  they cannot see beyond the human realm which the Bible calls the flesh. They go by their instincts, feelings and emotion that are purely  from a human level and not a divine level.

Most people live by what they can see touch or smell and they disregard faith as something childish or foolishness. Many Atheist are very outspoken these days about people of faith, especially the Christian faith. I like what Norman Geisler once said in his book: “I do not have enough faith to be an Atheist.” What is this faith within the believer, is it something that can be learned or can be earned by some kind of practice or ritual? Where does this faith come from?  Christians walk by faith, a faith that was not earned or attained. 

I believe that faith is a gift of God just as salvation is a free gift of God for those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Before anybody was a true believer and disciple of Christ, they walked in darkness just as everybody else. I came to Christ pretty late in life, at the age of 46 years. What took me so long, and why wasn’t I a believer much earlier in my life? Certainly I had heard about Jesus, and that He died on the cross for my sins.  I heard about His resurrection from the dead and that He promised eternal life to those who would believe and follow Him. I’m pretty sure that most people know John 3:16

It seems that knowing about Jesus and reading about Jesus is not enough. There are many people saying: “I think He was a good man and a great teacher.”  They put Him in the same category as Buddha, Krishna and others.  And that is as far as most people will go,  they refuse to come any closer towards the truth of God that would set them free. Why is there such hostility towards Christ?  Why would people not receive Christ by faith and the forgiveness of their sins by repenting of their former ways?  God’s promise is  forgiveness and eternal life. Could it be because there is no faith nor hope in them,  unless God draws them?  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph 2:8  
 
How come that some received grace and some not?  Did God predestined some to be saved and some not?  I do not believe that God has chosen some unto salvation and some to hell for eternity (although He knows in His foreknowledge who would come to Him and who not).  People have a free will to choose, and that those who reach out to God asking Him for forgiveness will be saved by His grace.  I can only go from my experience,  how I came to the Lord.  I can’t speak for others, everybody has their own unique story.  I’m not going into a long-winded story, but I had a severe alcohol problem, and my life was going downhill real fast.  I would go on binges days upon days drinking until I would be sick. I took me about a week to get better after these binges and a couple of weeks to get back to drinking resulting in another collapse. Well, long story short, one Sunday morning, May 14th 2006 to be precise, I hit rock bottom. I sat on my patio chair feeling pretty lousy and I remember as if it were today, I cried out to God saying, “please help me, I don’t want to be like this anymore, please God help me I am sorry.” From that moment on, my life completely changed, I was still feeling sick, but something happened, something I can’t fully explain. God took the desire of drinking away and I have not had a drink or desire to have a drink one ever since. 

That day God changed me, He transformed my life. There used to be twelve packs of beer in my car and Ozzy on my radio. That all changed that day,  I went and bought a Bible. Not knowing anything about which translation to get, the first Bible I bought was a NASB version. I’m using the NKJV now, but have others as well to get a better flavor on some passages. I was reading everyday and because I didn’t work at that time and spent all day and night reading God’s word. Looking back, I know that the moment I cried out to God that He saved me from a life of destruction, and the transformation within me started.

Did I have true faith at that early stage? To be honest I don’t know. What I do know is that reading the word of God brought me closer and closer to Him. I had a change of mind which came through His word. His word ministered to me. Reading the Bible and studying it, showed me without a doubt that I was reading the truth and that God had a wonderful plan for my life.  Faith came by reading the word of God just as it say’s it in the Bible. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom10:17
 
Today,  I have absolute faith in God. It is not a “blind faith” as many atheist like to call it. I know in my heart that God is the truth and that He is faithful. He keeps His promises, and one day I will see Him face to face. Can I prove faith to an unbeliever?  Maybe not, but I believe that faith can be shown by the conduct and behaviors of  Christians in the world.  Genuine faith brings forth good fruit.

Many will laugh at believers and mock them, but the genuine believers have a blessed hope of salvation and eternal life. They have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, something the unbeliever searches for but will not find apart from God.  Jesus explained why many will resist Him and fight tooth and nails against His Lordship: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” John 3:16-20

The unbelievers are already condemned because they do not want to acknowledge God.  Many want to keep living in darkness, they want to live a life without being accountable to anyone. They love the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life.