A lady once said to me, “If God gives me faith, then I’ll have it. If He doesn’t, I won’t.” That may sound like a good theory, but that isn’t a correct view of faith.
“But, Pastor Lynne, it says in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 that God gives certain people faith!”
Yes, but that verse is talking specifically about the gift of faith, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. That gift isn’t given to everyone, but it is one type of faith that God has provided for us as believers.
It’s important that we don’t put every verse about faith into a sack, mix it up, and shake it all out together. We need to understand the types of faith available to us as believers.
What the Gift of Faith Is Not
The first kind of faith is saving faith, which every believer has. We see this general faith described in Ephesians 2:8–9. This is the faith you’re saved by and it comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
Galatians chapter 5 talks about another kind of faith: the fruit of faith or faithfulness. This is a fruit of the Spirit, which grows in the life of a Christian to establish him in spiritual character.
Today, I want to talk to you specifically about the gift of faith mentioned in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. This gift of faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit and the greatest of what is often classified as the three power gifts of the Spirit: the gift of faith, the working of miracles, and the gift of healing. When a believer has the gift of faith or special faith, they believe God in such a way that He honors their word as His own and miraculously brings to pass what that faith has given them. This manifestation of the gift of faith comes after the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
One of the biggest differences between the gifts of faith and the general faith believers have is that general faith can be increased by feeding on the Word of God and exercising it in every arena of your life. On the other hand, we don’t all have the gift of faith; it is a supernatural manifestation.
Gift of Faith vs. Gift of Miracles
Put your hand out in front of you for a moment and then pull it back next to your body. This is the way we receive something. The gift of faith is a gift of the Spirit where the believer passively receives a miracle. This is different from the working of miracles, where the believer actively works a miracle under the power of the Spirit. Both gifts produce miracles, but the gift of faith is passive and the working of miracles is active.
Let me show you some biblical examples of these gifts in action. When Elijah ascended to heaven, he dropped his mantle. Elisha, who had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s anointing, saw that mantle, picked it up, and swished it from right to left as he parted the Jordan. He was actively operating in the working of miracles through the Spirit and power of God.
On the other hand, throughout Daniel’s ministry, we see the passive gift of faith working many times. One example was when he received a miracle in the lions’ den. In those days as well as down through history, people thrown into a lions’ den were eaten. Why didn’t they eat Daniel? Well, the Bible says that Daniel believed God. God had shut the mouth of the lions because of Daniel’s faith. As a result, Daniel wasn’t hurt. That’s the gift of faith in operation. Daniel didn’t do anything. He probably just laid down and went to sleep among the lions while he received a special manifestation to receive his deliverance.
What was the end result for Daniel and Elisha? Both received a miracle, but they each received it in different ways.
Sleeping Through the Storm
In Matthew 8:23–27, we see Jesus exercising the gift of faith as He slept on a pillow in the back of a ship during a raging storm.
Someone might say, “Yes, but that was Jesus. He was the Son of God. He could do anything.”
Jesus never did anything but by the power of the Holy Ghost. He stripped Himself of power as the Son of God. He did not work any miracles prior to the time when He was anointed by the Holy Ghost, and when His ministry began, He ministered as a man anointed by the Spirit.
Think about it like this. If He had worked miracles by some power that was inherent in Him as the Son of God, then He couldn’t have told us in John 14:12 that we could do the works that He did and even greater.
Jesus wasn’t bothered by the storm just as Daniel wasn’t bothered by the lions. They both laid down and slept right there in the face of danger. This is actually a common characteristic throughout the Bible of those who operated in this gift: the gift of faith primarily worked for individuals in the face of danger and provided them with a calmness that was supernatural. You can also see this same calmness in the stories of those who were martyred for the sake of the Gospel in other lands and especially those who were burned at the stake. Even the night before, many had such calmness that they laid down and slept all night before being taken to the stake. That’s the gift of faith in operation.
Other Operations of the Gift of Faith
So the gift of faith employs faith that passively expects a sustained or continuous miracle. At times, when this gift is in operation, nothing may be seen immediately; this gift may carry over and work for a long period of time.
The best example of this was the gift of faith the patriarchs of old had as they laid hands on their children at the time of their death and pronounced a blessing. Sometimes it would take many years for that blessing to come to pass. We see that with Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph. This was the gift of faith. They believed it would come to pass and, over the years, it did.
Smith Wigglesworth said that often times, if you will take a step of faith and use your general faith you have as an individual Christian, when you come to the end of that faith, very often, supernatural faith will take over or kick in. The reason it hasn’t happened like this for a lot of folks is because they don’t first use what they already have.
More than once, people were raised from the dead through Smith Wigglesworth’s ministry. The first miracle of this kind happened while Brother Wigglesworth was still working as a plumber. He came home from work one afternoon and learned that his neighbor who had been sick had just died. He began to pray. As he was praying, his wife kept shaking him saying, “Stop praying. She’s already dead. It’s too late.”
That didn’t stop him. He continued to pray. Soon a point came in his praying when he came to the end of his faith. When he did, he was conscious of a faith that took hold of him and he knew he absolutely could not be denied. While he was praying in his own faith, he said, it almost seemed like God was saying no. As he pressed in and the gift of faith came over him, he looked right up into heaven and said, “Yes! Yes!”
Without realizing what he was doing, the next thing he knew he took hold of that woman, pulled her out of bed, stood her up against the wall, and commanded her to walk in Jesus’ name. She started breathing and walking again. She was raised up.
This is way beyond anybody’s ordinary faith. In our ordinary faith, we could probably pull somebody out of the bed like Smith did and stand them up and tell them to walk, but I don’t believe they’re going to walk unless God’s power supernaturally manifests to receive a miracle such as this.
Another operation of the gift of faith is supernatural sustenance in a time of famine as when Elijah was fed by the ravens. Elijah’s faith had to be given to him supernaturally because it was beyond the Word of God to believe that ravens would feed him. Yet that’s exactly what happened: ravens brought him food, morning and night.
The gift of faith also can be employed in the casting out of evil spirits. You are trusting God to honor your word when you command a spirit to come out in the name of Jesus. You may notice, though, that other gifts of the Spirit are in operation in this situation as well, and that’s absolutely true. When someone casts out a demon, the gift of discerning of spirits and the gift of faith are in operation. Sometimes the word of knowledge is as well. If you don’t discern the spirit when you’re casting out demons, very often it’s revealed through the word of knowledge. Either way, the gift of faith still has to be exercised while casting out the spirit.
These Gifts Aren’t for Us
In Galatians 3:5, Paul writes:
He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (KJV)
When the gift of faith is in operation, it can literally minister the Spirit by the hearing of faith. God works through demonstrations of power and He works through supernatural manifestations. Therefore, the gift of faith can minister the Spirit. It can impart the fullness which is the promise of the Father. It can enrich your soul. It can empower you for service.
I could write so much more about the various ways we see in the Word that the gift of faith can operate so I’ll simply say this: it’s so marvelous of our Lord that He gave these gifts to us in these many different manifestations so that believers can demonstrate His power. In other words, these gifts of the Spirit are not for us. They are to be a sign to this world.
by Lynne Hammond