The Grace Gift of Faith

by J. Philip Scranton

THE third chapter of Romans is intense with the subjects of guilt and condemnation. But with the declaration of God's grace and righteousness, Paul moves into the happiness that comes with freedom from guilt and condemnation (Rom.4:7,8). The transition is from the shortcomings of the flesh to the forthlookings of faith.


Simply put, faith is believing something. Faith is a small thing. God utilizes our faith because it accords with His grace (Rom.4:16) and ascribes all glory to Him. People believe all kinds of things, some true and some false. Some people believe that warts come from a virus, while others believe that warts result from handling toads. And a myriad of beliefs exists concerning how to get rid of them. But there is no particular virtue or honor in believing one way or another. And so also with the faith of believers. There is no personal honor in believing God. He is faithful and trustworthy. Everyone should believe in Him; in fact, it is folly not to believe Him. And the faith one has, he actually receives as a gift from God (Eph.2:8,9). So this little thing—faith—which is to be the guiding and controlling factor of the believer's life, is that least little thing which God determined to use so that His grace might be magnified.


Yet faith is also a great thing. Faith is the crow's nest from which land is first sighted. Faith is the root which nourishes the ever spreading and ever climbing branches of assurance. Faith is the rock which the waves can never break or wash away, and upon which the lighthouse of expectation stands. Faith is the five senses of the spirit, enabling the believer to enjoy what he has not yet received; thus faith is God's unique provision for present times. Faith is imitation of the God Who "calls what is not, as if it were" (Rom.4:17). Faith is the foundation and root of expectancy (Rom.4:18). Faith is something that renews and refreshes life (Rom.4:20).

Faith is not empirical knowledge. Knowledge is a wonderful thing; it guides, comforts and encourages. Knowledge of the way something works can enable one to fix or solve a problem that arises. Knowledge that the outcome of events will be good is a great comfort when circumstances are trying. But how can one know what he has not seen or experienced? Abraham could not have knowledge of what God would do in the future simply by reasoning or calculating. But he could believe that the things God promised would come to pass. So, for the believer, the simple belief in what God says replaces knowledge gained by experience or deduction. And faith becomes a basis of action for the believer, just as knowledge is a basis of action in ordinary life.

The faith spoken of in the Bible is always a belief that is coupled with expectation. Belief that the universe exists does not require any expectation. One can have constant assurance of that through the use of his senses. But faith in Christ as Saviour is belief inseparably joined with expectation. "For to expectation were we saved" (Rom.8:24). "Faith is the assumption of what is being expected, a conviction concerning matters which are not being observed" (Heb.11:1).

Faith, then, is a gift and enablement from God which sets a goal before the believer. And faith is the beginning of a new order within the individual, a walk that accords with the spirit rather than the flesh. Faith is something which knows no fleshly barriers and something which honors and imitates God.

�J.Philip Scranton
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