Is Faith a Gift? (2 of 2)

(Contd. from yesterday)

Let’s move onto the second verse:

  • Eph 6:23 (NASB) Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unlike Eph 2:8, there is no ambiguity here. While 2 Tim 2:22 also talked about peace, love and faith in the same verse, there the initiative is on the Christian to pursue:

  • 2 Tim 2:22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart,

Here the assertion is that faith comes from God. But what is not clear is what kind of faith is under consideration. Is it saving faith, mountain-moving faith, or some other kind? The text did not specify, so it could be faith in general. But one thing is certain. Since Eph 6:23 is addressed to “the brethren” i.e. Christians, the faith could not be saving faith, since the brethren are saved already, and there is no need to bestow saving faith on them in the benediction. However, the context of Eph 6 refers to faith to withstand attacks from Satan:

  • Eph 6:16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

So fortifying faith could be in mind, but we just can’t be dogmatic.

The third verse is:

  • Acts 3:16 (NASB) And on the basis of faith in His name, it is [a]the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.

[a]His name

The phrase “the faith which comes through Him” might give the impression that the Lord (Him) gave the lame beggar (him) faith to heal him. But closer examination reveals otherwise. When the beggar saw Peter and John, he began asking for alms (v 3). Even when they asked him to look at them, and he began to give them his attention, he was only expecting to receive something from them (v 5) i.e. alms. There is no indication that he had faith in Jesus. Peter raised him up and he began to walk. So, the faith referred to was not faith that the Lord gave him to restore him, but faith which the apostles exercised through Him that healed the cripple.

Note also that “comes” is in italics. This means that the word is not in the Greek text but supplied by the translators. Other translations e.g. English Standard Version, has this verse as:

  • Acts 3:16 (ESV) And His name—by faith in His name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus[a] has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

[a] him

So again, a prima facie case for God giving saving faith turns out otherwise on close examination.

The last verse is:

  • Rom 12:3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Superficially, God has assigned or apportioned to each an amount of faith. What kind of faith are we talking about? The “each” to whom God has allotted faith corresponds to “everyone among you” at the beginning of v 3. Who are the “you”? The context in v 1 makes it clear, “Therefore I urge you, brethren …” “You” refer to brethren, brothers and sisters in Christ. So, the faith distributed by God was not saving faith which all brethren already have, without which they would not be Christians.

What could this measure of faith be? The context in Rom 12:3-8 is humble service in the Body of Christ:

  • Rom 12:6a Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.

So, measure of faith could be God allotting grace and different spiritual gifts to us for ministry.

This also fits with Paul’s use of the same Greek word “metron” for measure:

  • 2 Co 10:13 But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you.
  • Eph 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

2 Co 10 is Paul’s description of his ministry, while Eph 4 talks about Christ giving gifts to men (v 8). Both refer to God or Christ allotting us a sphere of influence enabling us to serve.

Let me conclude by summarizing our key findings:

Verse Who? What kind of Faith?
Eph 2:8 Christians, formerly dead in sins Salvation is gift of God; faith only secondary
Eph 6:23 Brethren Fortifying faith or faith in general
Acts 3:16 Faith of apostles Faith in Jesus’ name to heal
Rom 12:3 Brethren Faith/grace/gifts in ministry

Except in Eph 2:8, the subject under consideration was not saving faith, but faith in spiritual warfare, faith in Jesus name to work miracles, and faith in ministry. Even in Eph 2:8, we saw that faith is not the primary gift of God, salvation is; and faith is only a secondary gift as part of the salvation-grace-faith bundle. I have not read the book and can’t comment on how the author presented his arguments, only on the four verses you quoted. If they are the only proof-text offered, then I feel that he had not established his case (saving face is given by the Father) adequately. Feel free to point out deficiencies in my observations. Hope this helps.

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