During the last series on the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts we saw that faith is also a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:9). Yet, even people with the strongest of faith admit that the gift of faith, while not rare, is not the common experience. The common experience in faith is a matter of choice. The believer chooses to believe what God has said in His Word. So there is a balance when it comes to faith. Today we’re looking at the work of God’s Spirit, when faith functions as a “gift”. This is the faith Abraham had (Romans 4:18-21). This is the faith people experience when diagnosed with cancer yet now God is in control.
The “Gift of Faith” and the “The Choice of Faith.” Are not alternatives, but both must work together. Many within the church have become polarized on the question, “Is faith sovereign, or is faith all a matter of human choice?”
Two eveanglists from the beginning of the 19th century illustrate the different positions: Charles Price (1920s, not the Charles Price of people churches Toronto) and Smith Wigglesworth.
Charles Price preached that all faith was a matter of the sovereignty of God. If you didn’t have faith, there wasn’t a thing you could do about it! Either you had it, or you didn’t! Price said, “God will move, then you may follow.” A story is told of the evangelist Price. A young man entered the church service late and was ushered to the front row. Though late, he noticed that the meeting hadn’t yet started. He whispered to the man sitting next to him, “What, haven’t we started? Where is the evangelist?” To his surprise, he heard, “Young man, I am the evangelist. But we are not starting until the Lord has arrived!”
Smith Wigglesworth however believed quite differently. His message was, “You move, and then God will move!” He is famous for outlandish behaviour. This story illustrates his position on matters of faith: He once pulled a woman from her wheelchair with the command, “Be healed!” Instead of being healed she fell down. Everyone else was quite embarrassed. Not Wigglesworth. He calmly put her back in the wheelchair and said, “Young woman, you fell because you tripped over your blankets.” Again he pulled her from the wheelchair with the command to be healed. And she was!
Both these evangelists were used extraordinary by God, resulting in seeing many people healed and saved, but their methodologies were quite different.
“Is faith all God, or is faith all man?” the best answer is “both!” There is the gift of faith (from God, Who sovereignly gives), and there is the choice of faith (by man to actively receive).
Our faith life will be complete only if we will make room for both. Consider this: there will be times when God’s Spirit will make it possible for you supernaturally to believe. The gift of faith will flow from within you, and in the face of difficult circumstances you will sense a solid confidence rising. Though nothing of your circumstance would agree with your sense of faith, you will hear or sense within yourself the saying, “This is going to be O.K. This will work out.” Why do you feel this confidence? Because the Holy Spirit’s presence is giving you the gift of faith.
But also consider those other moments: when the circumstances all are evaluated in the cold light of reality, and you feel no confidence. Yet, God’s Word is still true, as are his promises. Perhaps a promise committed to memory long before will surface to your thinking. At this moment, you have a choice. You may give your faith to the practical diagnosis of the circumstance. Or, you may give your faith to the power-filled promises of God’s Word.