Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Gift of Faith

I've heard people talk about the "gift of faith", and it's usually along the lines of being able to believe that God wants to make you rich. That's an over-simplified explanation of the teaching, but when the same thing is taught week after week, it pretty much boils down to that. I guess because I've heard too much prosperity teaching around this phrase "gift of faith", and because I believe it is so often taught out of balance, I have not really studies what it really means. I was reading in Matthew this week, and I came across Matthew 13:12-17 and it gave me a new perspective:

To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I tell these stories, because people see what I do, but they don't really see. They hear what I say, but they don't really hear, and they don't understand. 14This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, which says:

`You will hear my words,
but you will not understand;
you will see what I do,
but you will not perceive its meaning.

For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes--
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.'

16"But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17I assure you, many prophets and godly people have longed to see and hear what you have seen and heard, but they could not. (NLT)

This whole passage starts out "To those who are open to my teaching...". How did I become open to the teachings of Christ? Is it because I was smarter than the average person? No. Is it because I was better or more holy than the average person? No. Was it because I was in the right place at the right time? No. It was because I was given the GIFT of faith. God gave me faith to believe. And once I took that initial step of faith, a lot of my questions could be answered. But I have encountered many people along the road of life who cannot accept the claims of Christ because they expect all their questions to be answered first...they fear taking even one step in faith.

Over the years, I have talked to and debated with people from all different religions and non-religions. They ask questions of the Bible and of Christianity, and I've tried to answer them. And the most frustrating thing I found was, no matter how many questions I answered or arguments I rebutted, it was never enough. I got the point where I wanted to say, "If I answer this question or prove your argument wrong, will you turn your life over to Christ?" But they never would...there was always one more question or one more, "Okay, but what about...".

Hebrews 11:6 says, So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (NLT) These are the Scriptures that give rise to the predestination arguments, and I'm not wanting to go there now. But the gift of faith certainly encompasses more than the prosperity message. The gift of faith is what makes our relationship with Christ possible,and I am thankful for it in my life.

- Rob

No comments: