What’s the Difference Between Faith and the Gift of Faith?
Last Sunday, my church’s sermon was on the gift of faith. When our Senior Pastor introduced the topic, I was excited. I mean who doesn’t want to learn about how to have bolder faith? And this season I’ve felt God leading me to grow in this area (see how I found out about Transformation Church’s Crazy Faith series here).
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware … to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, (1 Corinthians 12: 1, 9)
Here are some of my main takeaways (many taken from the official sermon notes):
The gift of faith is not mentioned much in the Bible. If not for 1 Corinthians 12:9, most would probably not identify it as a gift.
It is different from faith which each believer has otherwise we would not be saved or walk with God. The gift of faith is something that goes beyond our normal faith – something extraordinary.
“The gift of faith is the special ability that God gives to some members of the body of Christ to discern with extraordinary confidence the will and purposes of God for the future of His work.” (C. Peter Wagner, my Pastor’s professor at Fuller)
Signs of the gift of faith in operation:
An unusual desire to accept God’s promises at face value and to apply them to given situations until God fulfills them.
Receiving what you believe to be a vision of some future work of God and trusting God for it until it comes to pass.
The recurring experience in the midst of situations to sense that God is going to do something unusual even though most of the people around you don’t have this kind of assurance.
An unusual desire to know God in His fullness and to depend on Him and Him alone for solutions to problems.
Deep knowledge of God’s realness because He and He alone has specifically intervened on your behalf.
An attitude that says not only that God can do something but that He will do something in the situation, in fact, in many cases to know that God has already done it.
Examples of those in the Bible with the gift of faith: Abraham, Noah, Paul
Throughout the whole sermon, I felt the Holy Spirit moving more intimately than I usually do. I think I hyperventilated a few times aha … in a good way! It felt like a fresh revelation and was also a wise answer to something I’d been praying about right before church.
On the way to church, I’d been praying hard for God to soften my heart. I was thinking of a situation where I felt someone had put fear of man before fear of God and I was angry. Wasn’t the right thing so obvious? When God speaks, isn’t obeying quickly the obvious thing to do? Clearly some work needed to be done in my heart. And as I was talking with / ranting to God, I was also praying against pride and self-righteousness in me. But it wasn’t until hearing the sermon that I realized obeying isn’t always obvious or easy. And Jesus understands. I felt God was speaking directly to me when my Pastor reminded us that those with the gift of faith shouldn’t look down on those who don’t have it. Because I’d never thought of myself as having the gift of faith, I never realized I was doing this but quickly saw I was and that it was an area I needed to change.
But let’s backtrack a bit. Why did I think I had the gift of faith in the first place?
From age three or so, I’d felt Jesus talking with me, walking with me and so I knew in my heart he was real. But this also led me to take him for granted … for which I have apologized and repented because I can’t believe I did this for so long! Day to day, I preferred to make my own decisions. But when it came to the big events … which university to attend, which grad school to apply for, which city to move to, I always went to God. I mean honestly speaking I tried doing it my own way first but always got to a point where I realized following God’s leading would give me WAY more peace. So I prayed, felt led, followed, and never ever doubted these decisions. I think I just had this deep faith that if God said, then God was right. Who was I to think I’d know better than God?! And over time, I’d had enough of these situations work out … and not just work out but be the exact desires of my heart, way more than I deserved, that I was 100% sure God provides and that every good thing indeed comes from the Lord.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
This year my life flipped upside down in some ways and there came a time where I needed to decide whether I believed God is who he says he is. Was I going to dwell and look down at my circumstances or surrender and look up at God’s grace? Was I going to wallow in hurt or open up to God for healing? I chose to have faith that even when nothing makes sense, God is love. And I think he honoured this faith by deepening my gift of faith.
Right now I believe I have all of the ‘signs’ above (in various measures) though I know I’m still growing. In the past, I had the gift of faith for personal, short-term situations. Now, more and more, through God’s words to me and prophetic prayer from others, I’m learning to have faith for long-term promises relating to his kingdom. Some days, I still pray hard for more confirmation and feel like I’m at 51% faith. But I’m excited to grow in the Lord and in the assurance that God will do what he promises. Even when it seems outlandish, even when it seems slow, we can be sure that his timing is perfect and that he will. He will.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
As Christians, we all have faith. Why not pray to have the gift of faith (crazy faith!) as well?