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Pointers along the way #18

Two types of faith
- Jacob Ninan

A lot of confusion regarding faith can be removed if we understand that there are two types of faith.

There is a faith to live by. This is faith in God, our trust and confidence in His Person, character, attributes and His ways with us, including the way of salvation He has given us through His Son Jesus Christ. This faith is what gives us a relationship with God and a channel of communication with Him. Without this faith it is impossible to please Him, because then we do not even have a connection with Him (He.11:6).

By this faith we believe what God has said, believe that He will do what He has promised, obey His commandments, accept the values He places on everything and allow Him to work in and through our lives. If we doubt His love, wisdom, power and sovereignty, it shows that we lack in this faith.

But there is another type of faith. This is a gift of faith that God gives for something specific which is not given as a general promise for everyone. Some people get this for a ministry. Others may receive this for particular occasions. By this faith we get an assurance in our heart for expecting something extraordinary.

Let us look at an example. We know that God can do any miracle or heal any sickness. That is faith of the first type. But at the same time we do not know whether He will actually do it for us on a particular occasion - until we hear God's voice in our heart and receive this faith. When that happens we know without a doubt that God will do it.

Every one of us must have faith of the first kind. But the second type of faith is not entirely up to us (1Co.12:9). We can limit it by our unbelief in God - referring to a lack of the first type of faith (Mt.13:58). But we cannot decide by ourselves to exercise it.

Now we can understand the confusion that arises when we try to imitate someone else's faith, claim things by 'faith,' etc., when we have not received a specific promise from God for that. There is nothing wrong in asking God for something based on our confidence in His goodness, but we are not sure we will receive it unless we receive such a faith. It is good to be challenged by the faith we see in others. But we should avoid condemnation if we cannot do the miracles others have done even though we believe God can do them.

We can also see how we cannot blame others for not having the particular faith we have. God may have used some verse from the Bible in a particular way to give us faith for that situation. But we must be careful not to form a doctrine from that for everyone unless we see it as a general promise for everyone.

The closer we get to God, the better we get to know His heart and voice. Then we can exercise faith for all the things He wants us to have and do.