I have been thinking about the idea we do not have faith unless God ‘gifts’ us with it. I want to discuss this a bit.
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”
The problem for me begins with the idea of faith as a gift. If this is so – then couldn’t God give us more faith than we ever want – at pretty much anytime? Or couldn’t God just take away someone’s faith if He chooses – no matter the reasoning – just because He is the giver? If so, then there is no controlling your faith in God – God controls it – and with you out of the equation – well maybe you will or won’t be a Christian tomorrow.
I just don’t think faith works that way at all. You either begin having faith or deciding not to have faith anymore – the choice seems to be on us. Why faith would not be a choice is beyond me – since no one can command you to believe in God.
Also for Ephesians 2:8 – if you ask me the gift is either ‘grace’ or ‘salvation’ – through faith in God. Paul uses this same theme a few times:
(a) Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
(b) Ephesians 4:7 “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
(c) Romans 3:24 “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus”
The ‘not of yourselves’ part seems to be about something Jesus did concerning his death “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13). Who is Paul referring to here – the Gentiles and their inclusion into the faith – or as he puts it “having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12). It seems to me the grace is about Jesus’ death and it’s inclusionary aspects for the Gentiles – allowing them into the faith which brings them close to God.
But as for faith, I cannot reasonably say faith is not in our hands to determine. Faith is something we develop over time or not develop over time – but the choice is ours to seek out. I am not saying that God does not help out in some way (spirit) – I think there is that aspect also – but it does start with a mustard seed of faith.