Where Does Faith Originate?

We live in a humanistic society which teaches that we are in control of our own lives. Therefore it seems only logical that a possession as great as eternal life could only result from hard work. From childhood, we have been taught that in order to get something good we have to do something good and rightly so. This premise promotes a strong work ethic and is completely Biblical. Believe it or not, salvation too is based upon works. The work was done completely by Christ. Nothing is left undone. This statement implies that man did absolutely nothing to secure his salvation; even his own “choice” to “accept Christ” is a gift from God. This is the point on which many Christians disagree.

The issue at the core is not man’s free will, but the removal of God’s sovereignty. Few would argue with the old adage that “God is in control” but many would argue that He is not in control of man’s salvation. Many believe that man decides his own destiny, and by his own choice, can either opt for Paradise by accepting Christ or opt for Hell by rejecting Him. It is this “choice” that lies at the root of the issue. There are those, including myself, who believe that God makes the choice, not man.

The Bible teaches that God, in His sovereignty has chosen to give eternal life to some and not to others (Ro 19:19-23Eph 1:4,114:8,9). This is a debate that has been raging for centuries and this article is not intended to go in depth on this issue. I believe that God is completely sovereign and this sovereignty applies to all aspects of creation and it is from that vantage point that I choose to discuss the topic of faith. Before one can talk about faith it is important to realize where it originates. If faith originates with man then terms like “accepting Christ” mean something different than if our faith originated with God. For example, if our faith originated from God, and we have possession of it by no decision of our own, then we should be on our knees every waking minute with tears streaming down our faces thanking him for choosing us when so many others are doomed to perish in fire. That is the implication of accepting God’s total sovereignty over our salvation.  Now, if on the other hand, we believe that our faith originated with ourselves then we would be right to thank God for Christ’s death and allowing us to have the option of partaking in it. We would also be right to ascribe some large part of our own salvation to ourselves, by virtue of our choice. For if man’s choice is a factor then Christ’s work of salvation is left undone until we accept His atonement. Paul says in his letter to the Romans that man’s salvation does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs but on God’s mercy (Ro 9:16). So if our salvation does not depend upon what we “will” then what part does our “will” play in it? Given these two options, I opt for the one that reduces man and elevates God.

Some say this divine appointment of some to salvation and others to destruction is unfair.  But is it? Paul addressed this objection as well when he wrote:

“You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with great patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,” (Ro 9:19-23)

My wife and I were discussing this topic and she came up with an illustration that helped show the unfairness by which we judge God when it comes to this point:

A man was crossing a bridge and saw another man holding a bad of kittens over the river below, preparing to drop them. He stopped the man with the kittens and reached into the bag, grabbed a few, and went on his way. The other man retied the sack and dropped the rest into the river. We would praise the man who saved the few kittens for the kindness he showed to them. We would not condemn him as unfair because he didn’t take all of the kittens. Yet we do that with God when we say that He is unfair for saving only some and not all.

Now take the kittens out and put snakes in the bag. Who would reach in and save any from perishing? Who wouldn’t let the snakes plunge into the water below? Christ reached in and saved us; He didn’t let us die. We were His enemies, violently opposed to Him and yet He still saved us. We bit Him as He helped us and yet He didn’t let go. He took our bites, tolerated our poison and saved us from death. We didn’t even know enough to let Him help us.

Paul anticipated this “unfairness” argument and replied by saying essentially, “God can do what He wants and who are we to challenge Him”. This answers the question set forth as the topic of this article: “Is faith enough?” Faith is enough only if that faith is from God. A faith that originates with man is weak at best.  I prefer to lean on a faith that is sure, a faith that originates with God.

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (Jas 1:17)

What gift is more perfect than the saving faith that leads to eternal life? James said that “every perfect gift is from above” and therefore it only seems fair to include the grandest gift ever bestowed upon mankind, which is a saving faith, as a perfect gift which has come down from heaven as well. Those who have it, cling to it and rest in the assurance that faith is enough and for those who lack it seek it and you will find it. God even bestows the desire to seek! A sincere quest for the truth will certainly lead you to a saving faith.