15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
The common argument in today’s society as it has always been, is how does one come to believe in Jesus Christ. How is one justified by God if He commands that in order to be saved by Him one must believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ?
Let’s look deeper into this question. Where does faith come from, Matthew 16:17 says above says very clearly it has been granted by God. It did not come from a sinner as Peter self-generating this faith by deeds worthy to God, but it has been granted. God graced Peter to say “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. It wasn’t some political statement Peter gave or something derived from his intelligence, he didn’t repeat something he saw in the newspapers, it wasn’t something he heard from another disciple and merely repeating this, it wasn’t something his parents taught him either, it was actual faith in Jesus Christ voiced. In other words, you can’t just repeat a saying you saw on a bumper sticker or parrot another in order for this to be actual faith it must be granted by God in order for it to be faith.
John says in John 3:27 “John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” John was referencing faith in this context. He clearly is saying that the reception of faith is given by God, it is not worked for. In other words, one can go to their church each day, they can do a zillion good deeds, they can be very pious and subjectively externally moral individuals as the Pharisees were in John’s day but one cannot receive anything in faith unless God has granted it first.
Philippians 1:29 “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” Again, the Apostle Paul declares where faith has been granted from. God has granted saving faith on behalf of Christ, you believe because it has been granted.
Jesus says in John 3:3 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Again, Jesus has indicated that unless one action occurs initially, being born again, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, nothing else can happen in regards to faith. I have found many to object to Jesus in this respect. The false theology says “because you saw the Kingdom, you then were born-again”. But look carefully at what Jesus is saying which is the opposite “you must be born-again first, THEN you will see the Kingdom”. Meaning once again, God grants this faith, it is not self-generated, it does not come by intelligence or logic, or through deeds of ourselves and then God just MIGHT grant His faith. No, the first step of faith always is God centered.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
It is simple, if every good gift comes from God, and saving faith in Jesus Christ is a good gift, then saving faith comes from God. If enduring until the end is a good gift and all good gifts come from God, enduring until the end has been granted by God. If repenting of sin is a good gift, and all good gifts come from God, repentance has been granted by God. If understanding and wisdom of Scripture is a good gift, and every good gift comes from God, then God has granted this understanding.
Bottom line is if you do believe in Jesus Christ, and like Peter can declare “You are the Christ” and ALL that this means from your heart, you believe only because God has granted this. You were not just more moral or just more intelligent than you neighbor. God has granted you a gift! You see the Kingdom only because God granted your sight first to see it. Everything resulting from this in your life has God as the Author, not yourself. Paul states in Romans 3, “no one can boast”, he is absolutely correct, no one CAN boast because we were never the Author of our faith nor the Finisher, He is Jesus Christ.