It’s not as simple as you may think.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11:1-3)
We have been told what faith is, and what we will be able to comprehend if we possess it. Those with faith have been commended for having it. So….. how do you get it? How does one happen to have faith? And why was Enoch commended for having faith if faith is a gift from God?
“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not experience death: He could not be found because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11:5-6)
What is it about faith that pleases God? First of all, the one with faith is acknowledging God instead of being self-absorbed as Satan was with his own beauty. God is pleased when men attribute goodness to Him, and when He becomes their desire. To try and understand how faith happens let’s consider the faith of Abram who became Abraham. Christians are to “follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham.” (Romans 4:12) “Who (regarding faith) is the father of us all.“ (Romans 4:11&16)
“Now the LORD said to Abram….” (Genesis 12:1-3) “So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him;….” Genesis 12:4) God spoke, Abram heard and obeyed. God gave Abram a command and promised a lot of good stuff. Because Abram believed God he obeyed. “This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Hebrews 11:2)
The fact that Abram had opportunity to believe was a gift of grace. God declared His will. “And I will make you a great nation, (he was married to a barren woman) And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3)
The opportunity to believe happens the same way today. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word concerning Christ.” (Romans 10:17) God is speaking to mankind through the gospel with the promise of eternal blessing.
“Faith is a gift of the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:9)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Faith is a gift. We did not earn it, nor can we take credit for having it.
What is faith’s mystery? Is faith irresistibly planted in the Christian by the Spirit of God? Or is faith a God given opportunity to be willingly embraced? I have my thoughts. What about you? What is clear is that we are “saved through faith.” Praise God that we do believe!