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Gifts of the Spirit Study:

The Gift of Faith


 “to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,” 

        1 Corinthians 12:9 [emphasis added] 

Having discussed the word of knowledge and word of wisdom in verse eight, we now plunge into verse nine to examine the spiritual gifts of faith and healing.  We’ll look at each individually, but also show the strong tie that connects these two gifts.  In this section, we’ll limit ourselves to a discussion on the gift (charisma) of faith.

 “Faith” is a word with which every Christian is familiar.  We contend for our faith, we share our faith, we are saved by grace through faith, and we all have faith in Jesus Christ.  Some non-Christians would accuse us of having “blind” faith, but only because they have been blinded by their own ignorance of the truth.  So why is the gift of faith mentioned in verse nine any different from, or more special than the faith we exercise in any of the contexts mentioned above?  Is faith the same in all these contexts?  Can we really understand this passage?  Of course!  Have faith!

The Greek word used for faith here is pistis.  Looking at some of the other areas of the New Testament in which faith is mentioned, we find that pistis is used in these other contexts as well.  This is not particularly helpful when trying to determine how the gift of faith differs from other forms of faith.  How then, do we know there’s a difference?  The answer is that in verse nine, faith is mentioned as one of the spiritual gifts, or charismata.  Nowhere else in the New Testament do we see charisma faith.  Therefore, while the Greek does not illuminate the nature of the difference, it does indicate a difference, based on its charismatic status.

All of us exercised faith when we accepted Jesus as our personal savior.  We recognized that we are saved by grace through faith, and we used that faith by entrusting our lives to Jesus Christ.  As Christians, we all share a common faith in our Savior, and in His promises to deliver us from eternal punishment.  I believe that the gift of faith is something quite uncommon.

I often struggle with faith.  I don’t mean faith in my salvation through Christ.  I struggle with releasing faith in myself, and putting my faith completely in God.  I get impatient with God’s timing.  When God’s timing doesn’t match up with mine, and it rarely does, I misdirect my faith into my own ability to get things done.  I confess, “waiting upon the Lord” is not my forte.  When I pull my faith back and internalize it, I demonstrate a lack of faith.  When faced with this struggle, I look to some examples of uncommon faith, and there are many. 

Abraham was an old man when God promised him a son, and Sarai was no spring chicken either.  When Isaac was finally born, it was nothing less than a miracle.  God decided to test Abraham’s faith, by telling him to sacrifice Isaac.  Abraham displayed uncommon faith by following God’s orders.  He knew that God had a purpose for everything, and there must be some reason behind this as well.  God saw Abraham’s uncommon faith, and Isaac was given a reprieve at the last moment. 

Job was a man of faith – of uncommon faith.   This man lost everything near and dear to him, was afflicted with sores, yet he resisted the promptings to curse God.  This man, who is the poster child for “Why bad things happen to good people,” maintained his faith in God.  Considering the circumstances, his faith was decidedly uncommon.

Noah was approached on a warm, sunny day, and told to build a big boat to sustain life on a planet that would soon be destroyed by a great flood.  I keep wondering how I would react in this situation (“You want it how many cubits long?!”).  So he sets about building a huge ship.  Without a cloud in the sky, all Job’s neighbors really got a chuckle out of what they must have determined to be some sort of mania.  Yet in the face of ridicule and a temperate high pressure weather system, Noah persevered.  Definitely an uncommon faith. 

From Abraham, Job, and Noah, to a little old lady in Seattle, Washington.  I don’t know her name, and she’s never spoken a word to me.  She’s probably well into her eighties, but every day she can be seen walking the streets in the Queen Anne Hill area of Seattle with a smile that never diminishes.  To say she’s diminutive is to say that Saddam Hussein has problems playing well with others.  Yet it’s not hard to spot her from far away.  Her smile and the sparkle in her eyes seem to light up the city.  When she passes you, she looks you straight in the eyes, and with that magnanimous smile, puts a Christian tract in your hand.  She does this every day.  I personally was handed three tracts from this lady over the course of a year.  She never spoke to me, and she never failed to smile.  This “little old lady” has an uncommon faith that sustains her on her long walks up steep hills, as she delivers the good news of the gospel of Christ to a host of strangers that will never be the same after this encounter.

This uncommon faith is not restrained by doubts.  Doubts crop up when we allow human thoughts and weaknesses to diminish the divine power of God.  In Mark 11:23-24, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Faith.  Not doubts.  James said of doubts, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind,” (James 1:6).

I encourage you to search the scriptures and draw your own conclusions on the nature of the gift of faith.  I recommend reading Hebrews chapter 11.  This passage is too long to quote here, but it definitely teaches us about the power of faith – an uncommon faith.  I believe it is this uncommon faith that is the charisma.  It involves a total surrender of one’s own will and selfish desires.  It places all faith on God, rather than on men.  It is resolved, unwavering, unquestioning.  It is this faith that opens us to miraculous works and healing.  In our next study, we’ll discuss healing.  Don’t worry, we really will!  Have faith.