Do Other Bible Passages Teach Faith Is A Gift?

Consider some verses used by advocates of the idea faith cannot be expressed unless God gives the gift of faith rather than it being expressed of the person’s own free will.

John 6: 44,45 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him….”

Though this passage does not refer to faith, some interpret “draw” to mean “to compel against their will.” The passage says nothing about faith as a gift from God.

The Greek word translated “draw” can mean to coerce, but it also means to attract. In his writings John never uses the Greek word translated “draw” to mean compel. John wrote (12:32) that Christ’s resurrection will draw (attract) everyone to Him, even unbelievers. Clearly “draw” here does not mean God will compel everyone in the world to believe in Jesus.

Acts 3:16, “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man who you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in this presence of you all.”

Some interpret this faith which comes through Him as a gift of God. In the first part of the verse faith is the means by which the healing took place, “in the name” emphasizes God as the object of that faith, not the giver of it.

Receptivity on man’s part, which is faith, is a condition of all spiritual activity. Faith on behalf of the man enabled Jesus to heal him. Such faith is made possible through “His name,” the “Name” being Jesus.

The faith of the man resulted in the healing through Jesus, that is, by the instrumentality of Jesus.

II Peter 1:1 “To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ….”

First, it should be noted Jesus is called “God and Savior.” His deity is revealed.

The “like precious faith” is a reference to the body of belief they hold in common. That is what we often call doctrine, core beliefs. It is not a reference to saving faith, but to the code of belief by which God’s people are to live. The word “faith” is often used in the New Testament as a summary body of Christian teachings.

Romans 8: 28 – 30 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called, whom He called, these He also justified, these He also glorified.”

These verses are a summary of God’s dealing with mankind in love. Verse 28 does not relate to all persons, only to those “who love God. For them God is busy in all thing to bring the good out of them for those loving Him.

Verse 29 deals with this purpose. It is an expansion of “His purpose” in the lives of “those who love Him.”

There are five finite verbs in this passage: foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified.

“Foreknew” means to know something in advance. Knowing a thing in advance does not mean to make it happen. A person might see two cars on a collision course before they hit, but that does not mean to make it happen.

Even though God knows in advance who will be saved it does not mean He make it happen.

“Predestined” translates the Greek word horiz with the prefix pro. Horizo is a surveyors term for setting a boundary. Pro means before hand. Thus, in advance God set a boundary of salvation which was Christ. All who are “in Christ” have been predetermined to share His destiny. Simply stated, faith in Christ is the standard for salvation.

In Ephesians 1 in eleven verses “in Christ” appears 10 times. The well defined boundary is Christ. “All” are “called” to come into this boundary. Their response is authored by their own free will.

Predestination does not mean, as many have been mislead to believe, that God arbitrarily predetermines the fate of every person. Such a misconception negates every exhortation to preach the gospel and cancels all calls for evangelism and missions.

The Bible does not present election and predestination in conflict with man’s free will. Election means God chose a plan by which man might be saved. That plan predestined every person who by their own free will trusted “in Christ” for salvation would share His destiny.

Being in Christ goes far beyond regeneration and calls for conformation. That is, believers are to grow in becoming more like Christ daily. Being “in Christ” we are to be “conformed to the image of His Son,” that is Jesus Christ.

Note the progression. God having marked off the boundary, it being “in Christ.” Those within that boundary have responded positively to His call. They are indeed the “called according to His purpose.” These are “justified” and destined to be “glorified.”

Romans 12:3 “Through the grace given unto me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgement, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

Paul, in dealing with certain problems in the church at Rome, appeals to his authority as an apostle. Apostleship was the “measure of faith” given him. This is an appeal for individuals not to be self-centered and overestimate their own merit. The term “faith” as used here is depicted as the means by which individuals lay hold on the promises of God. It is not used as a reference to the quantity of faith but the diversity of faith by which others are blessed. The passage is an appeal for persons to recognize the diversity of gifts amid the unity of faith.

In context this verse is not speaking of salvation, but faith in the sense of grasping the nature of one’s spiritual gift and having confidence to exercise it. Obviously faith is depicted here as a bestowed gift. It is not faith given for salvation, but faith given subsequently to salvation for service. The individual expresses personal faith of his or her own free will in order to be saved.

“…the measure of faith” that “God has dealt to each one” means that God equips each believer for a particular task and expects the individual to discover and fulfill his or her role. Once this is discovered the individual becomes content and does not aspire to be and do more than God desires. Neither will such a person settle for being less than God intends.