FAITH: THE GRACE AND THE GIFT
"Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises"
(Heb. vi. 12).
"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" (Heb. xi. 6).
"Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the
promise. For yet a little while, and He that shell con" will come, and will not tarry" (Heb. x. 36,
There is an important difference between the grace of faith and the gift of faith, and I fear
that a failure to note this difference and to act accordingly has led many people into darkness, and
possibly some have even been led to cast away all faith and to plunge into the black night of
The grace of faith is that which is given to every man to work with, and by which he can
come to God.
The gift of faith is that which is bestowed upon us by the Holy Ghost, at the point where we
have made free use of the grace of faith.
The man who is exercising the grace of faith, says: "I believe God will bless me," and he
seeks God with his whole heart. He prays secretly and publicly. He searches the Bible to know
God's will. He talks with Christians about the ways of God's dealings with the soul. He takes up
every cross, and at last, when he has reached the limits of the grace of faith, God suddenly, by
some word of Scripture, some testimony, some inward reasoning, bestows upon him the gift of
faith, by which he is enabled to grasp the blessings he has been seeking, and then he no longer
says: "I believe God will bless me," but he joyfully exclaims: "I believe God does bless me!"
Then the Holy Spirit witnesses that it is done, and he shouts for joy and declares: "I know God
blesses me!" and then he would not thank an angel to tell him that it is done, for he knows it is
done, and neither men nor devils can rob him of his assurance. Indeed, what I have here called the
gift of faith might be called, and probably is by some, the assurance of faith. However, it is not the
name but the fact that is important.
Now the danger lies in claiming the gift of faith before having fully exercised the grace of
faith. For instance, a man is seeking the blessing of a clean heart. He says: "I believe there is such
a blessing, and I believe God will give it to me." Now, believing this, he should at once seek it
from God, and if he perseveres in seeking, he will surely find. But if some one comes up and gets
him to claim it before he has by the grace of faith fought his way through the doubts and difficulties
he has to meet, and before God has bestowed upon him the gift of faith, he will probably drift
along for a few days or weeks and then fall back, and probably come to the conclusion that there is
no such blessing as a clean heart. He should be warned, instructed, exhorted and encouraged to
seek till he gets the assurance.
Or suppose he is sick, and he says: "There are some people who have been sick, and God
has healed them, and I believe He will heal me." Having this faith, he should seek this healing from
God. But if someone persuades him to claim healing before he has, by the grace of faith, worked
his way through the difficulties that oppose him, and before God has bestowed upon him the gift of
faith by which he receives the healing, he will probably crawl out of bed for a short time, find out
he is not healed, get discouraged and, maybe, call God a liar, or possibly declare that there is no
God, and cast away all confidence for ever.
Or, again, suppose he is an officer or a minister and his heart is set on seeing souls saved,
and he reasons with himself that it is God's will to save souls. Then he declares: "I am going to
believe for twenty souls tonight"; but night comes, and twenty souls are not saved. Then he
wonders what was the matter, the devil tempts him, and he gets into doubt and, probably, is at last
landed into skepticism.
What was the trouble? Why, he said he was going to believe before he had earnestly and
intelligently wrestled and pleaded with God in prayer, and listened for God's voice till God
wrought in him the assurance that twenty souls should be saved. "God is ... a rewarder of them that
diligently seek Him."
"But," says some one, "should we not urge seekers to believe that God does the work"?
Yes, if you are certain that they have sought Him with all their hearts. If you feel sure they
have exercised the grace of faith fully and yielded all, then urge them tenderly and earnestly to trust
Jesus; but if you are not sure of this, beware of urging them to claim a blessing God has not given
them. Only the Holy Ghost knows when a man is ready to receive the gift of God, and He will
notify that man when he is to be blessed. So, beware not to attempt to do the work of the Holy
Ghost yourself. If you help seekers too much, they may die on your hands. But if you walk closely
with God in a spirit of humility and prayer, He will reveal to you the right word to say that will
help them through.
Again, let no one suppose that the grace of faith will necessarily have to be exercised a
long time before God gives the assurance. You may get the blessing almost at once, if you urge
your claim with a perfect heart, fervently, without any doubt, and without any impatience toward
God. But, as the prophet says, "Though it (the vision) tarry, wait for it; because it will surely
come, it will not tarry" (Hab. ii. 3). "Yet a little while, and He will come; He will not tarry." If the
blessing should tarry, do not think because it is delayed that, therefore, it is denied; but, like the
Syro-phoenician woman (Mark vii. 26) who came to Jesus, press your claim in all meekness and
lowliness of heart, with undaunted faith. He will in love soon say to you: "O man, O woman, great
is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt."