But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given … faith by the same Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:7–9
The gift of faith is not the same as saving faith. All believers in Christ have saving faith, or they would not be Christians. The apostle Paul says concerning this: “to another [is given the gift of] faith” (1 Corinthians 12:9, emphasis mine), indicating that not all have this gift. If the gift of faith is not the same as saving faith, then what is it? I think a good way to describe the gift of faith is that it is “special faith” or “faith to accomplish the ordinary.”
Jonathan in the Old Testament
We have an example of this kind of faith in the Old Testament in the behavior of Jonathan, the son of King Saul. One morning, Jonathan awoke with the thought that the Lord did not need the entire Israeli army to conquer the Philistines. He said to his armorbearer, “For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6). This conclusion led Jonathan to take a step of faith that resulted in a great victory over the Philistines. It is important to remember that this was an extraordinary event. Jonathan did not go out alone against the enemy regularly, but on this occasion, he had the gift of faith.
Peter in the New Testament
In the New Testament, we find this gift working through the apostle Peter. As he fixed his eyes on a lame man, Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). This was not a regular occurrence; it was an extraordinary event. In an instant, Peter was given the faith to take that lame man by the hand, pronounce him healed, and pull him to his feet.
Likewise, we can experience the gift of faith today. We may find ourselves suddenly filled with absolute confidence that God not only can do something extraordinary, but that He will do it. We can proclaim in confidence that it will be done, and it is!
That Christ Might Be Glorified
For instance, we may ask God to heal someone, and suddenly God fills us with the confidence to pronounce that they are healed, and they are. This is the gift of faith. We can ask so Christ might be glorified through this event. Even though what we ask for is humanly impossible, we can be filled with an unshakeable confidence that the things we ask for by faith are ours, so we receive them. (See Matthew 21:22.) These outbursts of faith are not the normal experience of the believer, but instead they are occasions where our Sovereign God fills us with faith and then honors that faith to bring Himself glory. May we remain open to His wonder-working power in the days in which we live.