Is Faith the Same as Making Believe?


Faith is a gift from God, whether we are discussing the charisma gift, the fruit of the Spirit, or the faith that is in the heart of everyone who follows Christ. It comes. We don’t self-generate this kind of faith. There is a kind of faith that people are able to self-generate. It’s called “make-believe.” People make themselves believe things all the time. They believe the things they want to be true. Real faith isn’t like that. We don’t make-believe that God exists. God speaks. If we will listen and acknowledge Him, faith comes. He allows us to reject Him. He doesn’t force Himself on anyone. He doesn’t believe for us, but imparts His certainty. Make-believe can never be certain. It’s mere concept and has no substance. The faith of God has substance. It’s the substance of things hoped for. It is certain. It’s the evidence, the certain proof, of things not seen. This doesn’t remove human will. We can reject Him when He speaks. We’re warned not to harden our hearts when He speaks. We can harden our hearts. We can harden our hearts and reject the faith that gives access to grace to be born again. We can harden our hearts after we’re born again and we can reject the faith that gives access to grace to do the righteousness of God.

This type of article can be very unnerving to a person who leans on his or her own understanding and is used to a rationalized, make-believe, faith. However, no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ, Christ’s will, Christ’s intimate leading, and Christ’s teaching to every person who is following Christ. We don’t always acknowledge Him, though.


Some theologians teach that you don’t have a will or that God determines who will believe and who won’t. They teach that God has made some people for the purpose of putting them in Hell forever and ever. They teach that those people have no choice. They teach that the choice was made for them before the worlds were made. To believe such a thing requires adding some hidden assumptions to Scripture. In other words, these theologians are adding to God’s Words. God asks us not to add to His Words or to diminish His Words. Some may even claim that they have extra-biblical revelation regarding this. With a claim like that, the day will disclose it. gives this answer:

Question: “Where does faith come from?”

Answer: 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).

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).

This issue of faith, whether it is of God or of man, has been argued for a long time. At the risk of causing more confusion, here are some of the commentaries’ opinions. Remember that human opinions are not to be compared to Divine revelation. As with all subjects, the fullness of this subject has not yet been fully revealed. If anyone thinks that he or she knows anything, that person doesn’t know

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

And that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.—This attribution of all to the gift of God seems to cover the whole idea—both the gift of salvation and the gift of faith to accept it. The former part is enforced by the words “not of works,” the latter by the declaration, “we (and all that is in us) are His workmanship.” The word here rendered “gift” is peculiar to this passage; the word employed in Romans 5:15-16; Romans 6:23, for “free gift” (charisma) having been appropriated (both in the singular and plural) to special “gifts” of grace.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners heretofore, encourages others in after-time, to hope in his grace and mercy. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by any thing done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out. All is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by his power.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

And that not of yourselves – That is, salvation does not proceed from yourselves. The word rendered “that” – τοῦτο touto – is in the neuter gender, and the word “faith” – πίστις pistis – is in the feminine. The word “that,” therefore, does not refer particularly to faith, as being the gift of God, but to “the salvation by grace” of which he had been speaking. This is the interpretation of the passage which is the most obvious, and which is now generally conceded to be the true one; see Bloomfield. Many critics, however, as Doddridge, Beza, Piscator, and Chrysostom, maintain that the word “that” (τοῦτο touto) refers to “faith” (πίστις pistis); and Doddridge maintains that such a use is common in the New Testament. As a matter of grammar this opinion is certainly doubtful, if not untenable; but as a matter of theology it is a question of very little importance.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

and that—namely, the act of believing, or “faith.” “Of yourselves” stands in opposition to, “it is the gift of God” (Php 1:29). “That which I have said, ‘through faith,’ I do not wish to be understood so as if I excepted faith itself from grace” [Estius]. “God justifies the believing man, not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him in whom he believes” [Hooker]. The initiation, as well as the increase, of faith, is from the Spirit of God, not only by an external proposal of the word, but by internal illumination in the soul [Pearson]. Yet “faith” cometh by the means which man must avail himself of, namely, “hearing the word of God” (Ro 10:17), and prayer (Lu 11:13), though the blessing is wholly of God (1Co 3:6, 7).

Pulpit Commentary

And that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Which of the two things is meant – salvation or faith? The grammatical structure and the analogy of the passage favor the former view, “Your salvation is not of yourselves,” though many able men have taken the latter. The apostle is so anxious to bring out the great distinguishing doctrine of grace that he puts it in all lights, affirms it positively, contrasts it with its opposite, and emphasizes it by repetition. It is a gift, not a purchase; a free gift, without money and without price; what would never have been yours, but for the generosity of God. It is very usual in the New Testament thus to represent salvation; cf. our Lord’s words to Nicodemus (John 3:16); to the woman of Samaria (John 4:14); St. Paul’s “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15); “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23); and 1 John 5:11, “God gave unto us eternal life, and the life is in his Son.” This usage confirms the view that it is not merely faith, but the whole work and person of Christ which faith receives, that is meant here as the “gift of God.”

Bengel’s Gnomen

Ephesians 2:8. Τῃ—χάριτι) τῇ has a relative meaning, in reference to Ephesians 2:5, χάριτι.—γὰρ, for) He does not say, therefore, but for, because he concludes [infers] from the effect to the cause.—διὰ τῆς πίστεως, by faith) which arises from the resurrection of Christ, chap. Ephesians 1:19,[23] [whence it is not at all mentioned in Ephesians 2:5, but for the first time in Ephesians 2:8. See Colossians 2:12.—V. g.] The antithesis is, not of works; an antithesis of the same kind as that between grace andboasting [“lest any man should boast”].—καὶ τοῦτο) and this, namely, believing, or faith, is not of yourselves. The antithesis is: this is the gift of God alone.

[23] Which passage implies, not merely that faith believes in Christ’s resurrection, but that also it is the same Spirit, which raised Jesus, which raises the spiritually dead and creates in them faith.
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The question is largely occasioned by the construction of the Greek, in which “that” (neuter) does not agree with “faith” (feminine).—Many great expositors, Calvin at the head of them, accordingly take “that” to refer to the main previous idea, and “through faith” to be a separate inserted thought. Alford, who takes this view, states the case for it briefly and well. Nevertheless we recommend the other explanation, and for the following simple reason: the phrase “and that” (lit., “and this”) is familiar in N.T. Greek to introduce an addition of thought, enforcing or heightening what has gone before. See 1 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 6:8; “and that before the unbelievers;” “and that, your brethren;” Php 1:28; Hebrews 11:12, (A.V., “and him, &c.”). But if it here refers only to the general previous idea, gratuitous salvation, it is hard to see what new force of thought it adds to the words “by grace.” If on the other hand it refers to the last special statement, “through faith,” there is a real additional point in the assertion that even the act of believing is a gift of God; for thus precisely the one link in the process where the man might have thought he acted alone, and where therefore, in St Paul’s sense, he might claim to “boast,” is claimed for God. Let the clauses, “and that, not of you; God’s is the gift,” be taken as a parenthesis, and the point of the interpretation will be clear; while the Greek amply admits the arrangement.

That “faith” is a matter of Divine gift is clear from e. g. 2 Corinthians 4:13; Php 1:29. Not that a new faculty of trust is implanted, but gracious manifestations—of the soul’s need and the Saviour’s glory—prevail upon the will to choose to repose trust in the right Object. The “gift” of faith is but one phase of the Divine action which (Php 2:13) “worketh in us to will.” And it may be said to be one aspect of the “gift of repentance” (Acts 5:31; 2 Timothy 2:25), for repentance is no mere preliminary to faith; it is the whole complex “change of mind” which includes faith.

Posted in Divine Revelation, Secularist Thinking.

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