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Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. King James Version So then faith comes by hearing. Hence the need of preaching. If God by a miracle worked faith in the heart, he could dispense with the preacher. But the divine arrangement is that it should result from hearing the word of God preached. For an example of the gospel plan, see Acts 18:8
Faith is a gift from God as Michael said above. The strength of your faith is from believing in the finished work of Christ Jesus and allowing His Holy Spirit to lead you in your daily walk in His grace. People often say "if I only had more faith!', and pray to the Lord for more of it. Faith isn't available at the local Christian Book Store as if you could buy it by the pound or top it off at the 'Faith' pump at a Christian service station. Faith is strong because of the object of your faith, Jesus Christ and not by how much you can generate on your own. Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." We must have Jesus, in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to lead us on the path of righteousness as we walk with Him. Jesus did it all! He did everything we need for salvation and continues to be the Person in whom by faith we believe. Jesus didn't do it all up to the point of our coming to believe and than say, "Ok, ya'll, you're on your own now. I did the hard part and now its up to you." Jesus in us and we in Him, in love and faithfulness is how we follow His commands and fulfill the Great Commission, sharing the Gospel with the world. Our relationship with our triune God is the same as His, Jesus', and the Holy Spirit's relationship, which is love and submission to each other in faith, trust, and confident belief. You don't have to have it all figured out. All you have to do is be in Jesus and He in you as your Holy Spirit leads and you will continually learn, understanding more each day, as you continue your gracewalk with Jesus by the faith you have in Him and of Him. Finally there is this in Hebrews 12;2; fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Faith, synonymous with 'belief', comes first by hearing (or otherwise coming to the knowledge of) God's written Word (Rom 10:17). We learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and then show God our faith (belief) by trusting that Christ is in fact our savior: Ephesians 1:12-13: "12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise," Faith is the internal result of our learning and then trusting in what we have learned. If someone told you that they could jump across the widest part of the Grand Canyon, would you believe them? If you saw them do it would you then believe it? Some, even though witnessing it, would actually still refuse to believe! God showed us what He did for us because of His love on the cross at Calvary through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Many reject God's love and free gift by believing Christ's blood was not the sufficient payment for their sins. They remain lost by believing their performance while living is an additional requirement to Christ's sacrifice in order to please God for salvation. Few make the correct choice to place their faith in Jesus Christ alone being the perfect 'performer' on their behalf. We see throughout the Bible that having faith is the foundation to pleasing God: HHebrews 11:6: "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." The process of reconciliation between God and man began with God through Christ. Our job is to complete the reconciliation process by accepting God's free gift through having faith in Jesus Christ, accepting that He alone is our foundation to eternal security: 2 Corinthians 5:18-21: "18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." We also see in verse 5 below that having faith is not considered to be a work that we could then boast about. Much like believing that we exist, belief in our existence is not something anyone can take pride in. We had nothing to do with it: Romans 4:3-5: "3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Just as it then was with Abraham, having faith today is how we accept God's free unmerited gift of salvation: Ephesians 2:8-9: "8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast." It is the goal of the god of this world (Satan) to keep the minds of them who refuse to have faith blinded and therefore remaining in darkness, otherwise the glorious gospel of Christ would be revealed to them where they might then also believe and escape Satan's clutch (2 Corinthians 4:4).
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