When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.Luke 7:9
Jesus compares the act of faith of this centurion to all the actions of Israel. And what does He find? This man exhibited great faith!
Let us consider for a moment the nature of this event. Israel has had the testimony of God found in the Old Testament for many generations. This Roman has had little or no instruction from God’s revealed word. Who had the most information on which to base a trust in God? Israel, of course. But who exhibited that trust the most? The centurion who was outside the privileges of the Jews.
How can this be?
Contrary to what many teach in Christianity, not everyone has faith just because they are human. Further, we do not get faith by some act of will on our own. That idea is actually nonsense because an act of will toward something good is an act of faith. Therefore, we would need to exhibit faith in order to get faith!
The truth of the matter is – faith is a gift from God. It is given to every child of God in the new birth whereby they are able to trust God and His word.
Now, there is a gospel faith that can only come once a person has heard the gospel. But the seed of faith in the new birth must already be there, else the preaching of the gospel would be foolishness (1st Corinthians 2:14).
But the intrinsic trust given to the child of God in the new birth is what makes this scene possible. The Centurion had very little, if any, head knowledge of the promises of God found in the Bible. But he did see or hear about Jesus’ ability to heal. His experience as a leader taught him that Jesus had power over some things that others did not. His heart of faith embraced this fact and motivated him to seek the help of Jesus for his servant.
We need to grow in grace on the knowledge of Jesus. This means we need to read about Him more! But as we are learning, we are still able to trust Jesus with every aspect of our lives even though we do not understand.
That is faith.