Spiritual Gifts- Faith
It may seem odd that faith is listed as a gift of the Holy Spirit in a list of rather extraordinary gifts. In most translations it is simply translated this way: “to another faith by the same Spirit”, although the NLT calls it “great faith.” The original Greek word is faith.
There are many so levels or types of faith that we need to tease out what is being referred to here.
Firstly here is normal human faith in which we trust things because in our experience, or to all appearances, they can be trusted. We trust that a chair will support our weight. We get on to planes operated by total strangers without too much fear because we trust that the pilot is able to fly and land the plane, and that all the maintenance, flight control and other systems work together to keep us safe. We drive at thigh speeds on highways separated from oncoming vehicles by a thin coat of paint on the middle of the road.
Next there is saving faith. This is the faith in Jesus that He will forgive our sins and bring us into relationship with God. This is a gift from God because we aren’t smart enough in our sinful nature to work out the gospel is true. But it is also a response from the human heart to the gospel- we know that the message rings true and is the answer to our desperation.
Then there is normal christian faith. We trust that God’s word is true, that He will supply all that we need, and He will answer prayers. The quality of this varies from person to person and even from time to time in the same person. Some are able to believe for healing for another person and for miracles, but other people are content to know that God loves them and that He answers fairly generic prayers.
Then there is the gift of faith which is a whole different level. Most people do not work in this gift all the time, but it comes as it is needed to the person who needs it for a particular occasion. This is the gift that makes possible the operation of other gifts such as miracles and healings.
This gift works in a number of ways, so we should not try to pin down the exact method of operation. The Holy Spirit is creative in His use of the gifts.
Some years ago, my wife, Margaret, suffered from a torn rotator cuff in her shoulder. This consists of several layers of muscle in the shoulder which make it possible to lift your arm. A sonogram revealed that it was torn right through all the layers, and this meant that it would not heal naturally. Surgery would be expensive, even with health insurance. So we prayed, believing that God would do what was impossible and heal this rotator cuff. We prayed three times a day for a couple of months. Then she noticed that she was able to lift her arm a little. We kept praying for complete healing and soon she had full use of her arm again. We had faith that God was able and willing to do what doctors said was impossible.
At other times the gift of faith is experienced as a surge of confidence that God is active right now. I have felt this when praying for people for needs of all sorts. You just know that God is going to answer this prayer and so you can pray with boldness. It might lead to a prophetic declaration that this need will be met in the name of Jesus. In any event, this surge of faith is exactly what is needed to bring about a miracle.
The person I think of when I think of the gift of faith is Peter. Peter was the one who had faith to walk on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14:29). Peter was the one who preached to the crowd on Pentecost and led 3000 people to Christ in a day (Acts 2:41). Peter was the one who healed the lame men at the Temple gate (Acts 3:1-10).
The gift of faith leads to breakthroughs in many ways because it opens the door for the Holy Spirit to act through the other gifts.