This is a huge topic - but before getting into specific answers from the Word I think we should be on the same page about what faith is and how it operates. The conclusions we arrive at have everything to do with that single point. On the relationship between faith and miracles, here is what Paul had to say to the Galatians,
“He therefore that ministers to you the Spirit, and works miracles among you, does he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” –Galatians 3:5
Whether or not someone agrees that miracles and other gifts of the Spirit are for today, the mechanism whereby they have operated has always been faith. Part of the confusion for people today however involves their understanding of faith, as if it were a work that an individual could boast in. Biblical faith is not something we can boast in, but it is something that we must choose to walk in. Paul breaks down the difference between a Spirit led life and a flesh led life to the Galatians… and each pattern of living has a distinct set of fruits attached to it. To walk in the Spirit is to actively rely on Christ over our own human ability… faith is a lifestyle! Paul confirmed to the Galatians,
“For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love.’ –Galatians 5:6
To understand how faith works, think of the analogy that Jesus gave us of the snake that Moses lifted up for all the people to behold. Whoever looked on the snake received healing from the snakes that were tormenting them. No one who looked at the snake could boast in their own healing… all they knew was they desperately needed help, and Moses had the answer. In contrast, what Paul calls ‘the flesh’ relies on human ability over the power of God, and chooses to trust self over God. The people who walked according to the flesh at that time may have ignored Moses and the snake altogether… and instead tried to suck the poisonous venom out on their own.
True biblical faith is intimately connected with humility, as it involves the crucifixion of the flesh, or our own ability apart from Christ. Paul wrote concerning the gift of prophecy in church,
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith…” –Romans 12:6
This of course should not stroke our ego, as Peter making a similar statement said,
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:11
This shows us that there is a choice involved in ministry… either we can minister according to the flesh, our own ability, or the ability that God gives. If we look at the church as a whole today, and also as individuals, do we rely more on Christ’s ability or our own? Speaking for myself, God has and will continue to teach me to rely more on Christ’s strength than my own… and that takes revelation! The gifts of the Spirit are empowered by the Spirit…. And without His Strength in us there will be no fruit. The gospel has always been much more than a simple declaration, but a way of living – the just shall live by faith.
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