Chapter 31 – The Gift of Faith

“To you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ to believe in Him.” Phil. 1: 29.

Faith a gift of God: this truth has been to many a one the cause of fear and dread. And yet this ought not to be. It rather yields reasons for gladness and hope. It is always an entirely perverse amplification of this statement to say: “It is a gift, and thus I do not know whether I shall ever receive it; if it were to be found by personal effort, and if I had to call it into existence by my own power, I should then indeed take heed that I did not remain without faith.” Thus many a one reasons. No: the reverse is the truth. If you could believe of yourselves, by personal effort and work, you would never do it, you should certainly be lost. But since faith is given to us, since there is a Lord in heaven who will implant and cherish and care for that faith in us, then there is hope that we may obtain and preserve that faith. It is a word of joyful hope.

And what makes the encouragement of this word still greater — this faith is given by grace? There is no question of worthiness or merit, of wisdom or piety, of strength or dignity; but it is given to the unworthy and the ungodly. To those that do not seek Him, the sovereign God comes with His drawing grace; through the Spirit He works the conviction of sin and of the need of His love; by His word He sets Jesus before the soul as His gift to the sinner, desirable and suitable, freely offered and acceptable, until the soul, under the hidden and indeed effectual working of the Spirit, takes confidence to appropriate the Savior entirely to itself. Yea, from beginning to end, along the whole way, in the midst of continual sinfulness and unfaithfulness on your part, it is of grace given to you to believe in Him.

And that faith comes under the use of means does not make it any the less a gift. Of well-nigh every gift of God one can be partaker only by work. We get bread in the sweat of our brow, and yet we pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” We enjoy health through the use of food and other means, and yet we always thank the Lord for preserving us from sickness and death. No: the appointment of means only shows us how loving the gift is, how the Lord will move and open the spirit of man by its own activity to appropriate entirely for himself what his God will bestow upon him. This thought of our text does not deter from means, but gives the right desire and the right spirit to use them. The soul learns to understand that the Lord who gives it the word will also give the faith to receive it; that He who has given the promise will also bestow the fulfilment, although you feel that you cannot do it. Set yourself to believe, in the joyful confidence: it is given.

Reader, it is given by grace to believe in Jesus. Ask this grace humbly from the Lord, wait for it at His hands in a childlike spirit. Let every experience of failure, of unbelieving, of insensibility convince you, how unfortunate it would be if you had to believe of yourself, and how blessed it is that you may look to God for it. Keep yourself occupied with the word of promise, look to Jesus as appointed for you by God, in order that you may believe in Him; and in every endeavor to appropriate Him, and the promises of grace, work in silent gladness, inspired by the word: “It is granted unto you to believe in Jesus.” The God who has had Jesus offered to me, who has awakened in me the first desire for Him, will also give grace to believe. In that blessed confidence I shall go forward, until secretly and gradually faith becomes living and visible. Yes, thank God, “it is granted to believe in Him.”