THE GIFT OF FAITH
T. PIERCE BROWN
In 1 Corinthians 12:9, we find listed the spiritual gift of faith. Although my research is not extensive, every gospel preacher of my knowledge who has written or spoken about it recognizes that is not the faith that is prerequisite to salvation of which he speaks. It does not take the wisdom of Solomon to realize that the spiritual gift of faith which some Christians were given after they became Christians is not the same thing all had to possess before they became Christians!
So it appears that the only logical conclusion to which anyone can come is: “It is a special kind of faith that the Spirit imparted directly to enable them to work miracles.” Some, in a more indefinite statement, simply say, “It was a miraculous faith.”
I have not yet heard anyone discuss the question, “If it were the kind of faith that enabled one to work miracles, how did it differ from the gift of verse 10–the working of miracles?” Did that person have two gifts, or was he able to work miracles without that kind of faith?
It may be that since these spiritual gifts did not all depend on a person’s spirituality, or how closely he walked with Christ, the gift of faith was an impartation of a special trust in God to enable him to have the strength and ability to remove the “mountains” of difficulty that might confront the early church in the task of establishing a new religion.
Surely there can be no serious question that the possession of these spiritual gifts did not depend on their possession of what we think of as “true spirituality”, for Paul says, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1). The primary thrust of 1 Cor. 13 is that none of these gifts are of any value to the person who has them, if he has not love.
But the question may still be raised, “How does the `faith’ given by the Spirit as a gift differ from the faith which comes from hearing the word of God” (Romans10:17)? It differs in at least the following ways: 1. In the manner in which it came. In the first case it was a miraculous bestowal. In the second it came by examination of testimony–evidence presented and received. 2. Its function or purpose was different. Whether or not it be true that the gift was a supernatural bestowal of confidence or trust similar to Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me”, it still appear evident that its function or purpose was the same, in general, as all the other spiritual gifts mentioned–to confirm the reality of Christianity, to fully establish the church on solid foundation, to build up the body of Christ until “we all attain unto the unity of the faith (Ephesians 6:13) or until “that which was perfect was come” (1 Cor.13:10, James 1:25, Jude 3). The function of the other kind of faith which we must have in order to be saved was that one should have such a confident trust in Jesus as Lord that he would commit himself to Christ, and thus be saved from self, Satan and sin.
Note carefully this truth: No matter how much personal faith in Christ one had as a result of hearing his Word, unless that Word gave him the power to perform a miracle, he could not do it! When Christ told Peter to walk on water, Peter could do it as a result of faith in Christ, without any miraculous infusion of faith by the Spirit! On the other hand, if a person had the supernatural gift of faith, he could do whatever that faith gave him the ability to do, without reference to any testimony from or about Christ, and therefore unrelated to a particular amount of his personal faith in Christ.
The revealed Word does not give me any authority to perform a miracle that it does not give you or any other Christian–and that is none at all. Since miraculous spiritual gifts have ceased (1 Cor. 13:8,9) then we not have the supernatural infusion of faith to enable us to do those supernatural things that were necessary in the beginning to confirm the word and strengthen the church.
But, praise God, we do still have access by faith to a far greater power, and far more blessings than most of us dare to dream, because of the promises made to us in God’s Word, not because of some supernaturally infused confidence wrought by a spiritual gift. Romans 8:28, 1 Cor. 10:13, Ephesians 3:16-20 are just a few of the marvelous expressions of God’s willingness to bless us exceedingly abundantly above what we can ask or think, if we but exercise the proper faith — the kind of faith each one of us can have if we but accept and depend on what Christ has told us! The principle of faith (not necessarily faith in Christ, but the principle of faith) has enabled man to go to the moon, raise millions of dollars in one Sunday’s contribution, and do all sorts of other things beyond the ability of many of us to ask or think. Now, without the necessity of a miraculous spiritual gift, we can do anything God wants us to do if we have and exercise the faith that comes from hearing his Word. Is there a “mountain” God wants moved? Why not get it done? We can if we have faith!