The Gift of Faith as Bestowed by the Holy Spirit
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

You will find the passage of Scripture at which we will look today in I Corinthians, chapter 12. May I remind you that we have been answering the question: “What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?” We have discovered those gifts number fifteen. We have divided them into three categories. We have referred to spiritual gifts. When we used that designation, we were thinking about those divine enablements that were related to the spiritual ministry of the Church.

Then we referred to service gifts. When we used that category, we were thinking about those practical helps of the Holy Spirit that have no special spiritual significance about them, such gifts as helps, ministry, and service. Then we spoke to you about the third category, which we called sign gifts. We said that these sign gifts might as well be called supernatural gifts, because there is a supernatural element related to them. They are often referred to as sign gifts because they were gifts that were given by the Holy Spirit to lend authenticity to the ministry of the apostles before the complete revelation of God. It was given as was found in our Bibles today.

I have asked you to turn to I Corinthians, chapter 12, that we might read the paragraph in which the various sign gifts are listed for us. Notice, please, in verse 7:

I Corinthians 12:

7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally[that is, individually] as he will.

We will stop our reading there, asking you to let your eyes go over the paragraph with us as we point out to you sign gifts, the supernatural gifts, which are under discussion at the moment.

In verse 9, you will notice the word faith. Also in verse 9, you will notice the phrase, the gifts of healing. Then in verse 10, the working of miracles. Also in verse 10, divers kinds of tongues, and also to another the interpretation of tongues. So the sign gifts might be listed as faith, healing, miracles, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues .

Review

In our last lesson, we began a discussion with you of the first gift in the list—namely the gift of faith. We were not able to complete that discussion so we must complete it today, but we will need to review briefly what we said to you last week. You will recall that we said that for the gift of faith to be properly understood, it must be distinguished from other kinds of true faith which are presented in the Word of God. The word faith , used in a true sense in God's Word, is used in the manner in which Jude used it in verse 3 of his epistle when he told us that we all had an obligation to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints. When he used the word in that fashion, he was referring to the body of truth which we call the Bible. We are obligated to contend earnestly in defense of the truth of God's Word.

Then we said there was another kind of faith. For want of a better way to express it, we referred to it as the faith by which we are saved . We said it was described in Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8-9, where we are told that we are saved not by works, but by grace through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. It is the gift of God.

We reminded you, according to Romans, chapter 10, verse 8, that this faith is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach.

Another kind of faith to which we called your attention was what we referred to as the faith by which we live as Christians . In Galatians, chapter 2, verse 20, we were reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul: “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

We said that this faith by which Christians live is the property of every believer because it is produced in the hearts of individual believers by the Holy Spirit, as we were reminded in Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” Because the Holy Spirit lives within your heart as a believer, when you permit Him to have control, He produces faith in your heart and in your life by which you are able to live.

We learned something else and that is this faith was produced through the ministry of God's Word. God does not drop faith down into your heart as a mother bird might drop a worm into the open mouth of the little bird in the nest; but God has given to you and to me the means whereby the Holy Spirit will produce that faith by the Word of God. “For faith cometh by hearing and hearing the Word of God.”

We said that faith by which we live is proven, is tested and tried for a purpose, for our welfare and our good. As Peter said, “The trying of our faith, which is much more precious than of gold that perishes, is tried that our hope and our faith might be in God.” The little testing that comes your way that tries your faith which makes it necessary for you to exercise it are but God's preparation for the greater trial which will most certainly come. If you renege, if you withdraw, if you turn away from the trials which come into your life, if you refuse to face up to them, then you will not be able to face the real trial which most certainly will come.

Will you notice the words I used, most certainly will come. The trial will come, for God loves His children and the Bible reminds us that whom He loves, He chasteneth. He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. Sooner or later the trial will come, and your faith will be needed.

The first thing we noticed about that kind of faith by which we live was that faith was bolstered and strengthened by prayer. We used an illustration of how Peter, who exercised greater faith in some instances than any other of the apostles, was told by the Lord Jesus Christ that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat, that he might try his faith. As we suggested to you last week, strange as it seems, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am going to let Satan have you to try your faith.” When it would seem the ground would slip from beneath his feet at that horrible thought, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “I have prayed for you that your faith fail not.” His faith did not fail because the Lord Jesus Christ prayed. We reminded you, and we would reemphasize, that the prayer the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for Peter suggests a tremendous ministry for all believers. We should be constantly praying for one another that our faith will not fail. Do you know that you never know when someone's faith is going to fail? That is the reason we should be so sensitive to the Holy Spirit—so that if you feel moved by the Holy Spirit to do something, you ought not ever hesitate to do it.

Will you pardon this illustration. The Holy Spirit brings it to mind, and I am afraid not to use it when He brings something to mind. I don't have it anywhere in the notes that I have jotted down to keep me on the track. We had very dear friends, husband and wife, who lost a daughter with a very strange disease. Our hearts have gone out to them and we have prayed much for them. They are lovely Christians, and they are not questioning God's will. They recognize the plan and the purpose of God, and they rejoice that their daughter is with the Lord. But the wife has often spoken to my wife about the intense loneliness that grips her heart from time to time.

One of our daughters, the one who is the same age away at school, was writing to her mother and she said, “Mother, in a few moment classes will be over, and I will be going back to the dorm. The thing that I miss the most, Mother, is that you won't be there. At home when classes were about to be over, I would think, ‘In just a few moments I'll be home and I can sit down and talk to Mother.' That is what I miss the most.” Then she added, “I have been praying for Mrs. so-and-so,” mentioning the lady's name. She said, “I have been praying for her because I know how much she must miss Gretchen's talking to her about it.” My wife cut that part of the letter out and sent it to this dear mother.

This lady wrote back just the other day and said, “Only God knows how badly I needed that statement right at that particular time, because,” she said, “I was at a very low ebb. I knew my faith wouldn't fail, but it almost did; and to know that you were praying, and to know [and she named my daughter] that she even thought about it gave me strength to carry on.” She added, “We have no regrets. We know God's will is best, but the loneliness of fellowship is almost unbearable.”

I digressed to bring you that; but the Spirit of God brought it to my mind, and I did it to remind you, Beloved, that you have a tremendous ministry in praying for one another that their faith will not fail.

Faith Bestowed As A Gift

Now we have come to the thing that we tried to get to last week. It is the third kind of faith, the faith that is bestowed by the Holy Spirit as a gift. The thing that we would like to remind you about as we think about this gift of faith is that this is a faith which is above and beyond that which we have already spoken. It is above and beyond any kind of faith produced in the ordinary Christian's heart by the Holy Spirit. As I say that to you, I would beg of you to recognize the greatness of the faith to which I have already referred. I would beg of you to recognize that the faith to which I have already referred is described in chapter 11 of Paul's letter to the Hebrews. I would beg of you to read that today and realize that through that faith, ordinary faith, people receive their dead raised to life again. Through that ordinary faith, people saw things happen that men never dreamed possible. Yet this gift of faith about which I speak is related to a super greatness that cannot be compared with the ordinary faith which is the right and the inheritance of every believer.

Much has been written about this gift of faith. One person describes it as a power to lay hold of the promises of God far beyond our own ability to achieve. Some of the translators of the Scripture tried to convey that idea when they translated the portion which we read in your hearing a bit earlier from the King James Version to another faith. We must translate this to another faith, a special faith. The Amplified Version of the Scriptures translates it to another, a wonder-working faith. The difference is not purely related to an idea of mine; it is indicated by what the Word of God actually says. Turn, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 13, and notice, beginning with verse 1:

I Corinthians 13:

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

Notice the Apostle Paul, throughout the chapter, mentioning various gifts of the Spirit and emphasizing that if the individual does not have the love of the Holy Spirit abroad in his heart, these gifts are valueless. So we know he is talking about gifts. Look again at verse 2, and notice what he says about the gift of faith. Did you notice that he did not say, “…though I have faith” because all Christians have faith.”? He said, “…though I have all faith.” The Greek word is pasan. “Though I have all faith”—a complete faith, a faith that is different from ordinary faith. Here again, the translators have endeavored to help us, for they translate the phrase, all faith, with various shades of meaning that we might be able to lay hold of it. Philip referred to it as absolute faith . The Amplified refers to it as sufficient faith . Williams refers to it as such perfect faith .

Gift of Faith Will Never Fail In Its Workings

Are you thinking today? I hope you are. If you are thinking, you will be able to follow me when I say that it would not be a myth in the light of what I have said thus far, to say that ordinary faith can and does fail at times, but the gift of faith will never fail in it's workings. In other words, there may be certain days when I can believe God for many things, and those things will be accomplished. There may be other days when I cannot believe Him for whatever reason and nothing is accomplished because I have ordinary faith. But if there is an individual who has the gift of faith, he will be able to exercise that gift of faith, and it will never fail. Whatever he does in the process of exercising that gift of faith will work. When you have time, read the details of the stories to which I have referred.

In Acts, chapter 3, the Apostles Peter and John went up to the Temple at the hour of prayer. They saw a man lying there who had been lame for a long, long time. Peter and John fastened their eyes upon him. Peter stretched forth his hand and said, “Arise and walk.” The literal rendering of the statement is, “Arise and keep on walking.” Immediately, that man stood to his feet and walked, and leaped, and praised God. There was no question of failure.

Stephen was a man described in Acts, chapter 6, as an individual who was full of faith. He was controlled by faith and had the gift of faith. The Apostle Paul was another such individual. Read the interesting story of how he exercised the gift of faith in Acts, chapter 27.

As I pause to emphasize, if you claim to have the gift of faith, then never expect any kind of failure, for such faith does not fail. If you have claimed to have the gift of faith and you have failed in some enterprise in which you exercised your faith, then admit humbly before God that you do not have the gift of faith, but you do have faith.

Is The Gift Of Faith For This Hour?

Is the gift of faith for this hour? Is the gift of faith for the day in which we live? I see nothing in the Bible that indicates that it was not for this age. As a matter of fact, one of the modern day exponents of the gift of faith is a man whose name is familiar to the readers of Christian Biography . George Mueller or Moeller, depending on the part of the country which you come, is the man to whom I refer. George Mueller operated an orphanage in Bristol, England, by faith, the exercise of the gift of faith.

If you have never read the story of his life, I encourage you to read it. We say that Abilene Bible Church is a work of faith, and we say our policy is to tell God's people and then trust God. That is an exercise of faith, but George Mueller had the gift of faith. He never told anybody what he needed. He would slip into his prayer closet. He would get on his knees and would tell God what was needed and millions of dollars were supplied over a period of years for the operation of his orphanage. He had the gift of faith and the exercise of it to such an extent that he would gather his children around the table set with platters and silver and nothing else and would bow his head and thank God for the food that God was providing for the evening meal. Before he would have an opportunity to say, “Amen,” a wagon would be backed up to the back entrance and folk would be unloading the supper the children were to eat that night. Do you have that kind of faith? If you do, you have the gift of faith in all probability.

George Mueller described his gift of faith in this way: He said, “It pleased the Lord to give me something like faith so unconditionally I could ask for and look for an answer.” Let me give you that again. This is his own testimony. “It pleased the Lord to give me something like the gift of faith so that unconditionally I could ask for and look for an answer.” Unconditionally, that's the gift of faith.

Lest you think that George Mueller is a proud man who is bragging about his ability to accomplish things, I would like to remind you that one day a young man, very much impressed with what is termed George Mueller's power in prayer, said, “Mr Mueller, I would like to ask you one simple question. Why does God use you as He does?” He had a long beard, and his biographer said that he was quiet. He didn't answer and then his head began to bow and got lower, lower, and lower, until his chin was resting upon his chest and his beard reached nearly to his waist. In tones almost inaudible, he said, “Young man, there came a day when God got all there was of George Mueller.” There came a day when God got all there was of George Mueller. I would suggest to you today, if you want the gift, it might be more effective if you would present your body a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service; and let Him use that gift with whatever divine enablements He pleases to accomplish His purpose.


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