The Gift of Faith (7)
A gifted story: All Christians have to learn how
to ride out the various tests to their faiths that occur in adversity.
During difficult times it is helpful to know of others who have
maintained their faith through the worst of times. Betty's life
was slipping away very quickly at too early an age-- the cancer
could not be reversed. As her many friends and family visited her
in the hospital, they were struck with the peace she displayed.
Betty was not afraid to die, as she knew she would soon be with
Jesus. She just wanted to comfort all of her visitors and say good-bye.
The testimony of her courage in the last days was an inspiration
to all that knew her that faith gives us victory over death.
1 Cor. 12:9 - One and the same Spirit gives faith to one person, while
to another person he gives the power to heal.
1 Cor. 13:2 -- …I may have all the faith needed to move mountains,
but if I have no love, I am nothing.
Heb. 11:1-3 - To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for,
to be certain of the things we cannot see. It was by their faith that people
of ancient times won God’s approval. It is by faith that we understand
that the universe was created by God’s word, so that what can be seen
was made out of what cannot be seen.
Definition and comment:
The gift of Faith: the special gift whereby the Spirit provides Christians
with extraordinary confidence in God’s promises, power, and presence
so that they can take heroic stands for the future of God’s work in
the church. The person with this gift is able to envision what God wants
to happen and to be certain he is going to do it in response to prayer, even
when there is no concrete evidence. There is discernment of the will and
purpose of God for the future of his work. The believer with this gift is
able to see the Spirit at work and trust the Spirit’s leading without
knowledge of the path ahead.
Jesus made some extraordinary statements regarding faith. He tied faith to
believing expectantly that prayers would be answered: “…if
you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill, ‘Go
from here to there!’ and it will go. You could do anything!” (Matt.
17:20) He also declared that “… when you pray and ask for
something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever
you ask for.” (Mark 11:24) Often missed in discussions about the
power of prayer is Jesus’ admonishment in the very next verse to “forgive
anything you may have against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will
forgive the wrongs you have done.” He said to do this when praying.
Most Christians have heard that prayer brings results if faith is present,
but they feel a bit amateurish in the prayer and faith department. A quick
word of encouragement should be added here - sincerity is the key, not eloquence.
Faith is essential for all Christians. We know that it must be exercised
with love, and we don’t need much of it. It is so powerful, that even
just a little will do. However, some Christians are given an abundance of
faith by God’s grace in the awarding of the spiritual gift of faith.
Those so gifted have the capability, when exercising their gift, to address
expectantly the greatest of concerns, plead for intervention in the largest
of needs, and undertake prayer requests that seem mountainous.
Affirm that you have this gift; questions to ask yourself:
Have you had the experience of knowing God’s
will with certainty in a specific situation?
Have you felt assurance that God would do what
Do you have a sense for moments when prayer with
deep faith is needed?
Are you able to go on believing God will act in
a situation in spite of evidence to the contrary?
Do you depend upon God’s resources and guidance
to an unusual degree?
Areas for study and personal growth:
As a receiver of the spiritual gift of faith, you
need to become expert in what faith is. There is no better way
to do this than to review the full text of Hebrews 11 where Paul
recounts the history of faith in scriptural stories. Internalizing
these stories will give you a sense of comradeship with people
who had faith of great proportions.
The peculiar strength of your gift needs to be
explored. Document what you can remember of prayers answered, and
begin a log of prayer requests for the future. Few people trouble
to do this, but you have every reason to do so. Evidence of prayers
answered is powerful encouragement for Christians in need to trust
the power of prayer and God’s loving response.
Seek out and read works that describe how prayers
have been answered for others. Learn all you can about the power
of prayer and how to use prayer in an intercessory fashion. Understand
that it is harder for some, who do not have your gift, to maintain
faith, and look for ways to build up the faith of fellow believers
through the sharing of your faith stories.
Cut out for yourself an informal role of “prayer
expert,” and offer help to others regarding various approaches
to prayer (meditative, contemplative, intercessory, petition, praise, …).
General ways to use the gift of faith:
Personally: be available to anyone desiring your
Within the church: offer hope in the face of any
discouraging situation, listen to the still small voice of God
for a word of guidance for his church (see more specific church
service opportunities in the Booklet Channels for Using the Gifts)..
Within the wider community: seek God’s will
for new community ministries
Some believe that the supernatural gift of faith was bestowed on believers
in the early church to help get it started. They are less certain that it
is given today in larger measure to certain believers because of the need
for all Christians to have at least some faith to validate their membership
in the Body. The counter perspective is that God isn’t finished with
us yet. He has continual and creative plans for us. He needs people of extraordinary
faith to counter evil and to spread his influence dominantly throughout the
world. Extraordinary faith inspires healing vision in individuals and courage
for action. God uses the gift of faith to bring glory to himself, to encourage
the church to believe in a prayer-answering God, and to meet crises faced
by individuals and by the church.
Love is the fuel that empowers faith. Thus empowered faith inspires hope.
And there is no place, however cold and dark, that cannot be penetrated by
the warmth and light that radiates from a hopeful soul. It is God’s
plan that coldness and darkness be thus eradicated in this fashion. Exercise
your gift of faith with a loving heart. That will bring a larger measure
of hope into our community of faith. When hope is abundantly present, God’s
plan for our church will be more fully revealed and our ability to know his
purpose for us will be assured.
Reveal your faith in the ways that you can so that members of the congregation
may witness it in action. Revealed faith strengthens the whole Body by example.
Your faithful actions make tangible what is not so easily seen. Your lessons
in faith will offer encouragement and hope. And in hope, one’s face
always turns Godward.