Faith is it a Gift or a Choice
by Keith Henry III
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Acts 16:31(NIV) “They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”
So which is faith? Is it a divine gift from God or is it our response to the “drawing” of the Holy Spirit? Is faith a work of God or an exercise of man? These are the two arguments about faith that theologians have been debating for centuries, seriously have you really given it much thought? I never really gave it much thought myself until I started writing the chapter in my book Hyperspirituality (which I am still working on) entitled The Discipline of Faith. I soon realized that I had to research these two schools of thought about faith before I could begin to write my chapter on faith.
The Divine Gift thought goes something like this; man being spiritually dead is incapable of the act of faith in God and therefore it is God who gives the spiritually dead man the gift of faith. Ephesians 2:8 is one of the scriptures used to support this argument, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God.” That is pretty clear cut right? When you look a little deeper into the verse (and might I suggest that we do this, study the passage) we see that the gift is not the faith, but our salvation “by grace” is the Divine Gift. John Wesley explained the faith as it is used in this passage when he said, “Our main doctrines, which include all the rest, are three: That of repentance, of faith, and of holiness. The first of these we account, as it were, the porch of religion, the next, the door; the third, religion itself.” Faith is “the door” through which we choose to walk through after God, “by grace”, has made our salvation available. I have trouble with the Divine Gift argument.
Faith then is a choice; this makes me happy because if it had been anything else my entire chapter on the Discipline of Faith would have been totally ruined. The argument here, of course, is that the Holy Spirit through His “drawing out” requires us to make a choice to have faith or not. Here are a couple passages that defend the argument that faith is a choice made by us: John 1:12, 13; “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Can you see the choice? “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believe in Him” this is a choice we make and not a Divine gift? Romans 3:25 says, “God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” Again can you see the Divine gift, “sacrifice of atonement” which is received “through faith”, our choice. I believe that faith is a choice and not a Divine Gift.
If faith then is our choice we have the ability to Discipline ourselves to practice our faith. Discipline is used to bring about a desired results and in the case of a Hyperspiritual Christian that desired result is a strong, incredible faith that is “as large as a mustard seed.” When we exercise our faith we will be able to say to the mountain “Go throw yourself in the sea” (Mark 11:23). Like working out our physical bodies practicing the Discipline of Faith takes action if we want to see any results. To have faith in God is our choice, a choice that God has enabled us to make through the “drawing” of the Holy Spirit. Exercising our faith is also our choice; we should ask what we want from our faith, and more importantly what God wants from our faith and work towards that goal. Exercise your choice people; work on strengthening and growing your faith.
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