It is written, ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God’. Does this involve intentional or active believing in the Word or do we wait upon the Holy Spirit and the Word to produce faith in us(passively?)?
@Theja I would like to side step the question of whether or not the original seed of faith comes from God or is a choice of the person. Rather - how do we as Christians build our faith? Actively or passively?
My personal opinion is actively.
First, consider how Jesus rebuked the disciples. It would have unreasonable to comment on their lack of faith if God Himself was the only would who could give faith.
Matthew 8:26 - He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Moreover, when Jesus encounters the Centurion’s faith - He says - When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith."
Jesus not only expects people to actively engage their faith but He expressed surprise when a Gentile did engage it.
Another thing to consider is the following verses that, while not directly about faith, are teaching the believer how to grow in their faith. They all have an active component - ‘renew’ the mind, ‘submit’, ‘think’ - these are all active actions we choose to engage in.
Romans 12:2 - Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
James 4:7 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Good question, @Theja. I believe in the sense that it is both. Sin has affected man radically that apart from God’s grace, we would never put our trust in Christ. As Romans 3:11 would say, “There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”
That’s the reason why Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him.” There are different sides on this, but both believe that faith is done by the person itself. A Calvinist would say that faith is a gift in a sense that a person does it actively after they are regenerated. A Classical Arminian, on the other hand, would say that faith is a gift in a sense that a person is only able to put their faith in Christ through God’s prevenient grace. One aspect of prevenient grace is that through the preaching of the gospel (or the Word), God draws people to repentance.
To add to @omnarchy’s excellent reply, I would say that even though I believe it is active, that the Holy Spirit is our helper and comes along side us.
We would not have the power to overcome sin apart from the Spirit of Christ. It is the Spirit who guides, strengthens and comforts us as we choose to surrender to Christ and as we attempt to set our minds on things that are above instead of things that are below.
Taken all by itself Rom 10:17 is a powerful statement. In context it comes out of a discussion Paul is having in chapters 9 & 10 on why Israel did not hear and stumbled and how Gentiles believed and it’s believing in Christ that really makes you the offspring of Abraham and a child of God. Israel heard Jesus and did not believe, while Gentiles (Greeks) barely heard (but saw) what we being done in the name of Jesus and latched on to that message of salvation and believed with all their hearts…and there are so many more Greeks waiting to hear about Jesus. (Probably a very poor summary).
After reading your post I read these two chapters (9 & 10) online in the ESV, the Message, and The Living Bible. It helped me see a wider picture. That there are some people who’ve had the gospel in front of them their whole lives and still don’t really have Jesus in their heart. Others, who are lost but know they have a void, grasp that faith with gusto the minute they know about Jesus. But how will others out there, who are just waiting for that something that will give their life meaning and value, have that chance if Jesus is not preached.
The Holy Spirit is preparing hearts to receive. I do believe in prevenient grace, that no one accepts Christ without being enabled by the Holy Spirit. I think a person can be actively seeking or passively finding when they understand who Christ is and they choose to yield to the spirit.
Active or passive, I believe both are true and necessary. I have listed excerpts for the Bible that I believe will be clarify my point. Faith is an act of grace and grace is a like a dance with 3 partners in a circle. There is Grace given, Grace received, Grace returned. Grace always makes it way back to the giver by way of acts of gratitude.
the beauty of the whole is destroyed if the course is anywhere broken, and it has most beauty if it is continuous and maintains an uninterrupted succession (Ben. 1.3.2–5; LCL, emphasis added)”
Grace is given.
1 And Yahweh said to Abram, “Go out from your land and from your relatives, and from the house of your father, to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great. And you will be a blessing. 3 And I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you I will curse. And all families of the earth will be blessed in you.” (Ge 12:1-3)
Grace is received.
4 And behold, the word of Yahweh came to him saying, “This person will not ⌊be your heir⌋, but ⌊your own son will be your heir⌋.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward the heavens and count the stars if you are able to count them.” And he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed in Yahweh, and he reckoned it to him as righteousness. (Ge 15:4-6)
Grace is returned.
14 But the word is very near you, even in your mouth and in your heart, ⌊so that you may do it⌋. (Dt 30:14)
And in the New Testament Paul answers Moses by declare that Messiah is here.
6 But the righteousness from faith speaks like this: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring [Christ] down), 7 or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring [Christ] up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near to you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim), 9 that if you confess with your mouth “[Jesus is Lord]” and believe in your heart that [God raised him from the dead], you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes [in him] will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for [the same Lord is Lord of all], who is rich to all [who call upon him.] 13 For “everyone who calls [upon the name of the Lord] will be saved.” (Ro 10:6-13)
The word of faith is the gift of Grace.
Believe in your heart is the receiving of Grace
Confession is returning of Grace.