The Gift of Faith
The third gift of the Holy Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12 is the gift of faith. (v.9.) Like all the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, there is a parallel flow of faith. The natural flow of faith is faith that is available to every believer. This natural flow of faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
There is a second flow of faith called the gift of faith. This special faith is limited to the will and distribution of the Holy Spirit: “To another faith by the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:9). Faith can be measured. The Bible refers to little faith and great faith. In fact, at one time the disciples of Jesus asked to have their faith increased. (Luke 17:5.) So obviously, faith is something that grows. How does it grow? Remember, it grows through hearing the Word of God. (Rom. 10:17.)
Before we go any further, let’s look at the two flows of faith.
1) Natural Faith
In the natural life of all believers, faith is extremely important. Everything a Christian receives must be received by faith. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that we are saved through faith. Hebrews 11:6 says that we need faith to please God. James 5:15 says the prayer of faith will heal the sick. James 1:6-7 says if we don’t pray in faith, we won’t receive anything. Romans 14:23 says that anything that is not of faith is sin. Then Hebrews 4:2 makes an astonishing statement: it says that without faith the gospel is unprofitable. And finally, 1 John 5:4 tells us that faith is our victory that overcomes the world.
Is faith important? Of course it is! According to the Bible, without faith we are lost, sick, in lack, in sin, unpleasing to God, defeated, and have a gospel that doesn’t work. Do we have to live this way? No, we do not because faith is available to every believer. If you want faith, all a believer has to do is hear the Word, and allow the Word to saturate his heart. Then faith grows.
2) The Gift of Faith
The gifts of the Spirit are not received by asking and begging. They are imparted to each believer as the Holy Spirit desires and wills to do so. For every gift and gifting there is a purpose. The Holy Spirit imparts them where they will not be quenched and will fulfill the purpose for which they were given.
Let me illustrate the gift of faith. Several years ago, Loretta and I went to Quincy, Illinois, for a Saturday evening meeting in the student union of a university. The next morning I was to speak at one of the local churches and then we would go to the airport and fly home. Meetings like this were always a joy for me. Not only did I enjoy the meetings, but I enjoyed flying. In fact, I especially enjoyed flying to Quincy, Illinois. The airport was large with long and wide runways and very little traffic. Several times I flew to Quincy just to get a piece of lemon meringue pie ala mode at the little café in the terminal.
However, this ministry trip was different. It seemed like anything that could delay me, was delaying me. It took longer to get the airplane ready, there was the threat of storms, and by the time I got to the meeting, I was not in a good mood. Quite honestly, that’s not my nature. I’ve always had a reputation for being a happy guy. In fact, sometimes I’m so happy it irritates people.
Anyway, as I was sitting on the platform waiting for the meeting to begin, a gentleman in his fifties slowly came through the back door. His arm and back were twisted, one leg was turned so much that it looked backwards, and his head was tilted to one side. It almost embarrasses me to admit this, but as he walked in the back of the auditorium, my attitude was so poor that under my breath I said, “God, don’t let this man come forward for healing!”
A friend of mine, who is a senator, had received a flyer saying that I was going to be in Quincy. Although he couldn’t attend the meeting, he encouraged a friend of his who was a businessman from the Middle East to come, and he did. As the music and meeting progressed, there was an anointing from God that came into the auditorium that changed the atmosphere and my attitude. The Middle Eastern businessman got very excited about the word for healing that I was sharing. Although he had never seen the crippled man before, as soon as the invitation was given, he grabbed him, brought him forward, and stood in the line next to him.
People were lined up all across the front of the auditorium. As I looked at the crippled man to my left, the Spirit of God imparted to me the gift of faith. This was not faith that had been built by me reading the Word, although I had been reading the Word. I knew this man would be healed.
Confidently, I walked to him. I calmly pointed my finger in his face and said, “If you will believe you can be healed, you will be healed.” He looked at me and said, “I believe.” I stretched out my hand to place it on his head, but his head was twisted so far to the side that I actually put my hand on his neck and I quietly said, “In the name of Jesus, be healed.”
Over the years I’ve prayed for thousands to be healed. But the confidence I experienced at this healing was different. His twisted hand and arm began to straighten out. His leg turned around until it was completely normal. His back and neck became straight and within thirty seconds, the crippled man stood before me straight and tall, with both hands, both feet and his entire body completely normal.
Every eye was on this man. A quietness fell upon the entire auditorium. A miracle healing had taken place that could be measured. The man was complete. His body was shalom -well and whole and in good health.
The man looked at me and said, “Thank you!” I said, “Don’t thank me. Thank the Lord.” So the man looked up and said, “Thank you, Lord,” and started walking across the auditorium in front of the long line of people who were waiting for ministry.
The side wall at the university was glass from ceiling to floor. Every eye was still on the man as he opened the glass doors, walked through them and down the long hallway and out of the building, 100 percent healed by the power of God. The gift of faith had been distributed to me. I was totally confident that his healing would be complete. What looked impossible an hour earlier became reality within me even before I saw the healing take place.
The gift of faith imparted on the inside changed the circumstances on the outside
Excerpt from Larry Ollison’s book, “Life is in the Blood.”
Agreeing with the Word of God
As a minister of the gospel, my responsibility is to repeat what God says in His word. I must do what He says to do and I must say what He says to say.
His Word is His will. Look at the confidence God allows us to have in what we say when we speak His Word. First John 5:14 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
We must be Word-minded people. Word-minded people are steady because the Word of God is steady. Sense-minded people are ruled by how they feel as perceived by the five senses – what they taste, touch, hear, smell, and see. Sense-minded people are up and down. I call them “roller coaster” or “yo-yo” Christians because they are driven by their senses.
If the Word of God is what you believe, you’ll be steady because the Word of God doesn’t vary. God doesn’t say that one day He’ll bless you and the next day He’ll curse you. The Word of God says it is His will to heal you. Therefore, if you’re attacked with sickness in your body, you’re going to be steady because you know it’s God’s will that you be healed, set free, and live a wonderful life. You’re going to be steady in your mind regardless of how you feel in your body if you are Word-minded.
People who are driven by their senses say what they see. When they feel good, they say they feel good. When they feel bad they say they feel bad. They have thought the same thoughts so long that the thoughts are down into their hearts. And out of the abundance of their hearts, they have spoken it over and over. Their heart becomes so negative and full of doubt that it seems like nothing will ever change.
Jesus said in Mark 11:23 that we get what we say. That means that if we keep saying what we see, then we will keep seeing the same thing. Since it seems like nothing will ever change, then these sense-minded people believe nothing will ever change. Because they see nothing changing in their life, they believe nothing will ever change, and they continue to speak that nothing will ever change and the result is, nothing changes.
Once I was counseling with a person who was full of doubt and unbelief. He thought he was worthless and his life was a mess and he spoke that he was worthless and his life was beyond repair. After much teaching and explaining to him about how he would get what he spoke, his comment was this, “That may work for some people, but it won’t work for me. I’ve tried to understand God’s Word, but I haven’t been able to and I don’t think I ever will.” In the years since this counseling session, I must confess, he was right. He received what he believed.
Choose to speak the Word of God out of the abundance of your heart and not what your five senses tell you and you will begin to see victory in your life.
“A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” (Proverbs 18:7)
Excerpt from Larry Ollison’s book, “Life is in the Blood.”
God’s Plan is to Receive the Holy Spirit
Several years after the experience of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Church was still growing greatly. Saul was legally taking Christians captive and the apostles were stationed in Jerusalem. It was during this time that Philip went to Samaria as an evangelist or missionary and preached Christ to the Samaritans. He had great success!
In Acts 8:6-8 the Bible says, “The multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.”
Then in verse 12, it says, “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.”
If this would have happened today, most evangelists would have thought they had one of the greatest revivals ever. Look what had happened. First of all, they heeded the things spoken by Philip. In other words, they believed what he said and acted on it. Then miracles took place. Unclean spirits, or demons, were cast out and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. This was a supernatural time. These things were happening daily and, according to verse 8, there was great joy in that city.
So, here’s the point. The people heard the gospel about Jesus and the kingdom of God; they believed what they heard; they acted on what they believed; miracles and healings took place; there was great joy; and in verse 12, all the men and women who believed were baptized. By New Testament standards, these people were Christians. They met all the requirements to be born again.
But then, in verse 14, we find where the news of this great evangelistic crusade got to Jerusalem. Keep in mind that at that time, there was no Internet, no fax machines, and no cell phones. News traveled slowly. So, after much time had passed and the news finally did get to the apostles in Jerusalem, the apostles decided to send Peter and John to Samaria. But why? Why would Peter and John need to go if the people of Samaria had already accepted Jesus and His teachings and were baptized?
We find the answer in verses 14-17: “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”
When we open the Word of God and read experiences like this one that happened in Samaria, we must read God’s Word in truth. Too often when we read passages like this, we try to mold and twist them to fit the man-made doctrines of our own denominations. This should not be. We should approach the Word of God openly, without preconceived ideas of what we want to hear. We must accept everything that God’s Word says. Only then will we know the heart of God.
Ask yourself this question. If you find something in God’s Word that goes against your tradition, will you change your belief? Will you deny the truth of God’s Word in order to keep the man-made doctrines and traditions that you have become accustomed to?
Jesus said, “If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The truth is there is a second experience after salvation that’s referred to in Acts 8:15 as receiving the Holy Spirit. We know this is true because God’s Word says it. And God’s Word always takes dominion over the words of man.
Excerpt from Larry Ollison’s book, “Life is in the Blood.”