In our studies in Sunday school on the gifts of the Spirit there doesn’t seem to be much distinction made on different applications of gifts and scriptures. It’s not always one size fits all. So consequently if we’re not careful we can be found trying to apply verses in a way not intended or making them fit an idea, pattern, or thought that just doesn’t work. We need to always make sure that our doctrine or belief is allowed to stretch to fit scripture and that we’re not stretching scriptures to fit our belief or doctrine. Sometimes our doctrines won’t stretch far enough to grasp differences. Sometimes we haven’t been taught the correct application. And sometimes we just need to remind ourselves to look at a verse or a word differently. I’ll try in the next four weeks to cover the ones I find the most problematic for churches and people; prophecy, tongues, faith, and healing.
The first I will endeavor to cover is faith. We will break it down into three categories; there may be more but that is what I found in my studies. First, faith as a mustard seed from Matthew 17:20, He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” If you have the smallest or feeblest faith that is genuine, you can supernatural things. You can’t and don’t have to wait until you understand everything, know everything, or believe everything. The key isn’t faith in yourself and your ability or believing hard enough. It’s quite simply believing God can and will do what He says He can and will do if we ask. “God save me”, not knowing or understanding all the powerful dynamics that happen in the natural and supernatural realms to make that happen. Just believing He can and will. It may appear at first as if that pretty much sums up faith, but let’s just call that a really good beginning.
Secondly, we read in Romans 10:16-17 that faith comes by hearing. “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. This has been called faith that grows. Much like physical strength grows through exercise the more we hear and read the word of God the more we grow in faith. Then the more we’re strengthened and grow in faith the more confident we become in God in us and God working through us. This now becomes our responsibility to see to it that we do those things that cause us to grow in faith and trust in God.
Thirdly we have the gift of faith that we read about in 1 Corinthians 12:9. The gift of faith seems to imply a gift much like other ministry gifts given by the Holy Spirit for ministry in the body. From Hebrews 11 we might assume that it’s the steadfast exercise of faith in everyday life that through the anointing becomes supernatural. I believe it’s faith in what God has promised or made personal to you and you believe in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. In John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes he says, “Faith may here mean an extraordinary trust in God under the most difficult or dangerous circumstances.”
When we look at verses that refer to faith from different perspectives and references we are able to distinguish or discern more clearly what faith is and the application that is intended. It should give us confidence to know that God doesn’t wait to save us and use us until we have great faith, and that we can grow in faith, and that God has placed in the church body individuals with a special gift of faith.