Faith is the avenue or the instrument God uses to bring salvation to His people. God gives faith because of His grace and mercy, because He loves us (Ephesians 4—5). Faith comes from God in the form of a gift (Ephesians 2:8).
A gift is not earned by some good deed or kind word, and it is not given because the giver expects a gift in return—under any of those conditions, a gift would not be a gift. The Bible emphasizes that faith is a gift because God deserves all of the glory for our salvation. If the receiver of faith could do anything whatsoever to deserve or earn the gift, that person would have every right to boast (Ephesians 2:9). But all such boasting is excluded (Romans 3:27). God wants Christians to understand they have done nothing to earn faith, it’s only because of what Christ did on the cross that God gives anyone faith (Ephesians 2:5, 16). Receiving faith is a non-work (see Romans 4—Abraham’s salvation was dependent on faith in God, as opposed to any work he performed).
Suppose someone anonymously sent you a check for $1,000,000. The money is yours if you want it, but you still must endorse the check. In no way can signing your name be considered earning the million dollars—the endorsement is a non-work. You can never boast about becoming a millionaire through sheer effort or your own business savvy. No, the million dollars was simply a gift, and signing your name was the only way to receive it. Similarly, exercising faith is the only way to receive the generous gift of God, and faith cannot be considered a work worthy of the gift.
By knowing our saving faith comes from God alone, it should encourage Christians to “not think of yourself more highly than you ought,” but remember God decides the measure of faith each one receives (Romans 12:3). The apostle Paul gives an example of the godly humility believers should have when they contemplate their own faith: “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:13–14). Paul understood faith in Christ was given to him because of God’s grace in spite of his own sinful life (1 Corinthians 4:7).
The Bible specifies the way, or the means, that God gives faith to people. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). It is the Word of God that produces faith. Someone could receive faith while hearing a sermon teaching the gospel, someone else by reading about Jesus in the Bible—any time the true gospel of Jesus is communicated, there is potential for faith. This is why it’s of paramount importance for believers everywhere to be obedient to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20) and tell people what Christ has done for humanity. Faith is not the product of a preacher’s compelling presentation, his eloquence, or even his theological soundness—faith is given through the message about Jesus. This is the means God has chosen.
It is good for anyone who wants faith to ask for it. God freely gives what is good to all who ask (Luke 11:9–12), and it’s good to ask for an increase of faith (Luke 17:5; Mark 9:24). Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith to be strengthened (Luke 22:32). As with any gift from God, it is our responsibility to exercise the gift and not become complacent, lazy, or apathetic (Romans 12:1–2, 6–8). Christians can find comfort and peace of mind knowing their faith is from God, because He has said He will finish the good work He started (Philippians 1:6). God is the Author and the Perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2a; Romans 8:29–30).