Does God Give Us Faith Directly?

faithDoes God give us faith or do we have the potential to have faith ourselves?

In this first half of this question, the questioner seems to have reference to the denominational teaching that God gives faith to the Christian directly.  Many in the denominational world believe this because of the doctrine of total depravity.  The argument is made that since man is totally depraved that he has no ability to respond spiritually to God’s message.  Hence, since he cannot respond, for him to be saved, God must Himself put faith directly into his heart.  God does this, it is alleged, by means of the Holy Spirit, and in so doing, God himself brings about the salvation of the individual sinner, and it is thus that one is saved by grace through faith.  Is this what the Bible teaches regarding how an individual gets faith?  No, the Bible teaches otherwise.

For man to have faith God has provided a source which man may believe and thereby have faith.  That source is God’s word.  Let’s look at Romans 10:13-17.  In this passage, Paul makes it plain that a person can’t call upon God until he has believed; and he can’t believe until he has heard and he can’t hear unless someone preaches to him.  Preaching, hearing, believing, calling—there is the order of salvation; it is clear from this order that one cannot believe until he has heard.  The Bible teaches that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17).  In other words, man doesn’t get faith directly from the Holy Spirit.  Man must hear God’s word and believe it to have the kind of faith that God wants man to have.  There are several examples of this in the scripture.  Look at Acts 4:4. There the Bible says that those who “heard the word, believed.”  Acts 8:12 says that “when they believed Philip preaching the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.”  Again, faith comes by hearing God’s word preached.  Notice Acts 13:48, “And as the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Acts 14:1 says that they spake in the synagogue and a great multitude “believed.”  Peter states plainly in Acts 15:7 “Brethren, ye know that a good while ago God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.”  In Acts 18:8 we read, “…and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”  Notice also Ephesians 1:13 “in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,– in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”  There are other passages that we could discuss but these should be sufficient to show that God doesn’t give faith directly to the sinner, but that the sinner, by hearing the word of God, comes to faith in God through understanding and believing the word.

There is a sense, however, in which God gives man faith.  God has supplied for us His word with all the things in it that we need to believe and know saving truth.  When we know and believe these God-given truths, then we have faith in our life.  So, we develop our own personal faith from hearing God’s word, understanding it, believing it, and applying it.  In that way, God is responsible for our faith because it is only through his word that we can have that faith; at the same time, we are responsible for accepting God’s message and believing it.  We are, in this sense, completely dependent upon God to reveal to us what we need to believe, and, in that way, God gives us faith.