WHEN IS THE GIFT OF FAITH GIVEN?
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Question answered. Saving Faith comes only when the Word of God is heard. If one has not heard the Gospel one cannot believe, and, therefore, they cannot evidence saving faith. If one has heard the Gospel, but still does not believe, such a person manifests a distinct lack of saving faith. The apostle Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, has been writing about the Jews not having salvation (see Romans 10:1), because their zeal of God was not according to knowledge, knowledge of God's Gospel, His Plan, or Way, of salvation. "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2). So then, if the Jews' zeal of God was not according to knowledge, what do you think it was according to? IGNORANCE! Why were they not saved? IGNORANCE! "For they being IGNORANT..." (Romans 10:3). They, like so many today who claim to be God's people, had a zeal of God, but it was not according to the right knowledge of God, and, therefore, they could not have believed in the only Gospel of God. Paul goes on to talk about it being an impossibility for anyone to be able to rightly call upon the true God unless they have heard the preaching of the Gospel of God, wherein the true and only God and His Righteousness is revealed. How could anyone know about a thing if they have not heard about it? If they are ignorant of it. "How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard?..." (Romans10:14). So the apostle ties the problem of an ignorant zeal of God with not hearing, or believing the Gospel of God.
If you have not heard the Gospel of God, or do not believe the Gospel of God, then it is of a surety that you do not have the Gift of Faith which comes from God so that a person will believe His Gospel. None are saved without this Gift of Faith, for God's people are saved only by grace through faith: "For by grace are ye saved through faith..." (Ephesians 2:8). God's people are saved through Faith in His Gospel not by the ignorance of it, or by faith in any other gospel. TO BE IGNORANT OF THE GOSPEL IS TO BE IGNORANT OF GOD. It is to be ignorant of that which must be trusted in, in order to be saved. Therefore, to be ignorant of the Gospel is to not know God which in turn reveals that one does not have the Gift of Faith which God gives to His people in order that they be no longer ignorant of Him, but in order that they would know Him. "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath GIVEN US AN UNDERSTANDING, THAT WE MAY KNOW HIM that is true..." (1 John 5: 19, 20). Without that understanding it is impossible to know Him that is true, and, therefore, to be in a saved state. The recipient of God's Gift of Faith is no longer ignorant of who the true God is, and also no longer ignorant of His imposters. This spiritual discernment is what the Jews did not, and still do not, have to this day. This ignorance of God is never greater than in those who wrongfully believe that they are God's people, for they do not have understanding, they do not have right knowledge of Him, for they are and remain ignorant of His Gospel.
If you have heard the true Gospel of God, and yet counted it foolishness and believe another (see 'The Preaching of the Cross'), then you have not the Faith which comes from God as a Gift to all His people which causes them to see, understand and BELIEVE His Gospel, and not count it as foolishness. Romans 1 talks about the Gospel of Christ being the very power of God unto salvation, and that the just shall live by Faith exclusively in that Gospel, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for IT is the POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION...For therein is the Righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by Faith" (Romans 1:16,17). The Gift of Faith which comes from God is given so that God's people can see and recognize the true God, and believe (trust, have hope) in Him alone for their salvation. Without this Gift of Faith one cannot distinguish the True Gospel from the false. Without this Faith one cannot savingly believe in the Righteousness of Christ. The Gift of Faith comes when a chosen child of God has heard the Gospel message, and has been ordained to believe it (see Acts 13:48). People without this Faith, this saving Faith, are currently not in a saved state. "Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Clearly this does not mean that as long as one has a faith in any god that this is somehow the evidence that one is saved. But it does mean that if one has THE Faith in THE God which comes FROM THE TRUE AND ONLY GOD, then that is most assuredly the evidence that one is in a saved state. The Gift of Faith is never given unless the Gospel of God is heard, otherwise what would it believe in? How could it be saving faith if did not have the Gospel of salvation to believe in? People who claim to have the Gift of Faith, and yet do not believe God's Gospel, but in another gospel, are in a state of strong delusion, and quite simply, lost. Moreover, when the Gift of Faith IS given by God it is of a surety that the person to whom it is given will believe God's Gospel, and only God's Gospel. He will believe that God's Gospel is His power unto salvation and that no other gospel, no matter how minutely it differs from God's Gospel, could possibly save anybody. "But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed....A little leaven leaventh the whole lump" (Romans 1:8 & 5:9).
Believer's in God's Gospel do not count themselves saved before hearing and believing God's true Gospel, "In Whom (Christ) ye also trusted, AFTER that ye heard the Word of Truth, the GOSPEL of your salvation: in Whom also AFTER that ye BELIEVED, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise" (Ephesians 1:13). No one is saved before, or without, believing in the Gospel of God; no one is saved without the Gift of Faith which comes from God. The truly saved do not count anyone saved who does not believe in this Gospel, nor anyone who claims to believe it and yet insists they were saved before ever having heard it. The person who has the Gift of Faith given by God believes only and always in the Gospel of God.