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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Faith is a Gift

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Daily Scripture Reading - Matthew 9

Puritan Catechism
Question #17
Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state into which man fell?

Answer
The sinfulness of that state into which man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin (Rom. 5:19), the absence of original righteousness, (Rom. 3:10) and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin (Eph. 2:1; Ps. 51:5), together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it (Matt. 15:19).

Devotional Thoughts
Yesterday we asked the question, "Where does faith come from?" We examined a few answers that run contrary to the Word of God so that we could see where faith does NOT come from. As we learned, faith does not come from men! We cannot say it more simply that this - faith is not produced by, inherent in, or available to any person without outside intervention!

So where does faith come from? If it is not something we already have and can pull out and use at will, then where do we get faith? We know that the gospel must be believed for people to be saved, so where does the ability to trust God come from? Where does saving faith originate?

The answer, as we will break it up into several days worth of study, is that faith is a gift from God given through the hearing of the Word of God applied by the power of the Holy Spirit as He produces spiritual fruit in our lives.

Today then we will look at the first part of our answer and see demonstrated from Scripture that faith is always and only a gift given by God.

Faith is a Gift

The first proof of this statement is found in the well known and oft quoted verses of Ephesians chapter 2. Specifically verses 8 and 9, which say:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

These verses are used to show that salvation is a gift from God. That is very true. Romans 6:23 tells us that "the gift of God is eternal life." And here we have it in black and white, grace and faith - the necessary elements for turning from our sin to Christ is not "of yourselves; it is the gift of God." This verifies every answer provided in yesterday's devotion. Grace and faith neither one originate with us.

Now some argue that salvation is a gift of God's free grace, but that we already have the faith and just must be motivated to use it and trust Christ. But as a friend of mine preached, "What is the gift here? The grace or the faith? Well, it is BOTH. It is not one or the other, but both. Everything related to our salvation is a gift from God's hand. He gives us everything we need to be saved." Amen and well stated!

We are not saved by works. We are not saved by what we can do, but by what Christ has done. And God gives us grace and faith so that we might trust Him! Praise God for His marvelous gifts!

While these verses are quite clear, some might need more convincing that faith is a gift and not something that originates with us. So let's see what else the Bible has to say about the matter. These verses show us that everything related to our salvation is a gift, including repentance and faith.

Acts 5:31

Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Jesus gives repentance to those who then turn from their sin. This is a simple and yet profound truth. It explains why in Scripture some seek repentance but do not find it! Hebrews 12:17 tells us that after Esau sold his birthright for a meal and then lost the blessing, he sought repentance diligently with tears, but did not find it. He could not repent even though he was sorrowful. Why? Because repentance is a gift from God. Left on our own none of us would even desire to be repentant about our sin - 1 Cor 2:14.

Often we confuse repentance for sorrow. And often we are sorry only that we got caught, not that we sinned. Repentance is a change of mind, it is a recognition of how awful sin is and a turning away from it. If we are sorry we got caught, or even sorry that we sinned, we still need to repent - to forsake that sin and change our minds about it. Face it, we sin because we want to (James 1:14). And repentance is a negation of that lust, that desire to sin. We cannot make up our minds about sin, so God helps! Have you ever asked Him for repentance when you have sinned? Ask God to make you truly repentant, to give you this gift!

Acts 11:18

When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

When the Jews first heard about Gentile conversions they were skeptical, but based on the testimony of Peter and others that saw for themselves that God had saved these Gentiles, their reply was that God had granted them repentance to life! They knew salvation was a gift from start to finish, given by God in His grace. And they glorified Him for giving this gift to Cornelius and those in his house.

Acts 13:48

Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Who believed? Those to whom it was appointed. This shows that God gives faith for the specific purpose that people will believe and be saved. He does not just give faith and hope the person will use it. No. He gives them the faith and the ability and desire to use it to effectively save them. This is how God saves sinners - by giving them everything they need to be reconciled with Him.

Acts 16:14

Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

Lydia had her heart opened by God! She could see the truth because God made it possible. This is reminiscent of Ezekiel 36:26 which says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." God takes out the hard dead heart and gives us a soft living heart! This is describing regeneration (see Eph 2:1-5). He gives us a new heart. He calls us to life. He gives us repentance. And as we see, He also gives us faith. This is why we preach that salvation is by grace alone! It is all God's work and doing, from start (regeneration) to finish (glorification).

Philippians 1:29

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake...

It has been granted to you to believe! It is a gift given. And this is not all He gives, but is certianly part of the package of salvation that we receive by His grace. He grants us faith!

2 Timothy 2:25-26

...in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Want to escape the snare of the devil? God must grant repentance and faith so that you can know the truth and be set free by Him! God must bring us to our senses. He must intervene otherwise we are doomed.

John 3:27

John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven."

Simple and to the point, John states that a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. Ever hear a preacher preach that a person must receive Christ? Yes, we are invited to repent and believe on Him. How do we do that? God must give us what we need because we do not have it on our own. Humbling isn't it?

John 17:2-3

...as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Eternal life is knowing Christ. And He has the authority from the Father to give that life to as many as God gives to Him!! God determines who is saved. And He gives Christ the authority then to save them. While we refer to salvation as a gift we also see that those who are saved are a gift, given by the Father to the Son!

1 Cor 3:6-7

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

And this is where it gets practical as we preach the gospel and call men to repent and believe. We sow the seed. We preach the Word. We share our testiminy and tell people what Christ has done. And God gives the increase. He is the one who causes the seed to bear fruit. His Word "shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please." We cannot contain His Word or prevent it from accomplishing the purpose for which He sends it forth. That is why we follow Peter's example from his sermon on the Day of Pentecost. We preach Jesus! And God does the work of saving people!

Hear this. It says that it is not a contest between churches. It is not up to us to make people believe. It is not up to us to persuade them and convince them and argue them into saving faith. Our responsibility is to love them enough to tell them the truth - and then leave the results up to God. He gives repentance. He gives faith. He gives the increase.

1 Cor 4:7

For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Here is where all boasting is excluded. Some will say that they are saved because of what they did and others are lost because of what they did not do. But the truth is that we do not have anything that was not given to us by God. When God saves us He gives us everything we need to be saved. We are not better or different from others as if we could boast that we chose Christ while others did not. No, Christ chose us and loved us first!

1 John 5:20

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

He gives us understanding. Without Him we cannot see the truth or believe the truth or obey the truth. Follow that? Faith, as part of our salvation, if a free gift from God. We do not have it on our own. We do not have the ability to repent, believe, or obey Jesus Christ. He gives us all of that by His grace!!

These few verses then make a solid case, revealing to us that when we ask where faith comes from we must answer first and foremost that faith is a gift from God! Has He given you repentance and faith? Have you turned from your sin to Christ in faith? If not, ask Him to give you grace!!! If you come to Him, He will not cast you out or refuse you!

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

Faith is a Gift of God by Geoff Thomas
Thoughts Concerning Faith by Jonathan Edwards
The Causes and Objects of Justifying Faith by John Owen

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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