Like Button

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Whose Faith?

We all know that faith is ours. It is something that we have, something that we exercise, something that we generate. And then I run across Hebrews in which the author describes Jesus as "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb 12:2). Now, that's odd. And we read from Paul that we are to regard ourselves "according to the measure of faith that God has assigned" (Rom 12:3).

So there I was, reading through the book of Acts. This shouldn't be a jarring experience or containing much in the way of controversial doctrine; it's about what the Apostles did after Jesus ascended. It's a story. I was in Acts 3, in fact, where we find the classic and beautiful line from Peter, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I to thee." And Peter healed the man born lame. It's a cool story and it caused quite a stir in the temple where the man sat every day to beg. So everyone wanted to know how he did it. Peter's second sermon takes place here and he starts with the friendly lines about how they murdered the Son of God, and then he says this:
And His name--by faith in His name--has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all (Acts 3:16).
Well, I have to tell you, that really struck me. You see, normally we do think of faith as something that is ours, something that we produce, something that we exercise. Peter specifically indicates here that that's not the case. Here Peter says that Jesus healed this man ("We didn't" - Acts 3:12) and He did it "by faith in His name". Okay, good, we're all tracking just fine. But whose faith was it? According to Peter it was "the faith that is through Jesus". Peter says that the faith that healed this man came from Christ. Sure, Peter exercised it. (Some suggest that it mentions faith twice because it references Peter's faith and the lame man's faith, but I see no reference whatsoever in the account to the man even being given a chance to believe.) The faith by which the man was made in perfect health was faith through (instead of "in") Jesus.

There are many biblical references that call on us to have faith, to be strong in the faith, and that sort of thing. No doubt. It appears, however, that we would be mistaken if we thought that this faith is something that we originate and we generate and we build. It appears quite clearly to come through Jesus, a faith "assigned" to us, authored by Christ and returned to Him. Perhaps, when we think of faith as something on our part, we give ourselves too much credit.

No comments: