Can faith change God's plan?

Faith can help activate God's plan, but it does not change God's plan. God has plans and He uses people to accomplish them. By giving someone a gift of faith or enabling us to walk in faith, it can appear to us that faith may have changed God's plans, but more accurately, walking out our faith is one of the ways in which God's plans is accomplished.

Look at the examples of Jesus healing people. In some situations, He said, "Your faith has made you well" (Matthew 9:22; Luke 17:19). In other situations, such as in His hometown of Nazareth, He was rejected by the people and could not perform any miracles because of their lack of faith (Mark 6:5–6). These Bible stories exemplify God's action as being in direct correlation to people's faith or lack thereof. Yet, in other miracles and healings, no mention of the person's faith is made (Mark 3:1–6; 4:35–41). God knows how every element of every situation will unfold; He is outside of time and completely sovereign. This is not to say that faith is unimportant, only that it does not alter the plan of God.

Determining the role of our faith in God's plan is complicated. It really comes down to the interplay between two different factors: God's sovereignty and our choices as humans (free will). It is also helpful to understand different aspects of God's will. Nothing happens outside of God's control or His will—this is what theologians refer to as God's decretive will, sovereign will, or hidden will. Yet, God did give humanity meaningful choice. Part of that choice includes the ability to sin or to go against God. Sin has all manner of negative consequences, summed up by the concept of death (Romans 6:23). Theologians refer to this as God's permissive will. God permits things, like sin and its bad effects, to happen. He does not desire these things to happen, but He allows them. God has a master plan for humanity, and within its complexity is space for God's instructions for us as well as His advance knowledge of how we will respond. Human free will is part of how God's sovereign will is accomplished. Our faith is part of God's plan.

Without faith, it is impossible for us to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus showed us the power of faith when He said: "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt … even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen" (Matthew 21:21). Even a small amount of faith can make a huge difference (Luke 17:6). Our faith is not a super-power we have; our faith is powerful because the omnipotent God Himself is the object of it. We are able to put our faith in Him and trust Him fully. It is not that our faith changes things, but that our God in whom we have faith does.

It is faith that enables us to receive the gift of salvation, but even that faith has not changed God's plan. We were chosen by God before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). The faith that brings us to salvation is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8–9); and it is faith that empowers us to walk with God after salvation (2 Corinthians 5:7). As we walk by faith, we are able to accomplish God's plans for our lives: "For we are his [God's] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Since before the beginning and all the way to the end, God empowers His faith-filled, Spirit-filled believers to bear spiritual fruit and bring His plans to pass on earth as it is in heaven (Mathew 6:10).

Hebrews 11 talks all about faith and discusses multiple stories of people who lived by faith for the sake of Christ. These people are inspiring examples for us to follow in our own faith walk. All of the stories show how God worked through these individuals' faith and obedience, enabling His plans to happen and change not only their lives but the lives of those to come. Hebrews 11:30 recounts the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho: "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days." Was it always God's plan to destroy the walls of Jericho, or did Joshua's faith and leadership alter God's plan? Did the army's faithful marching convince God to make His move on the seventh day? Really, it was God's will for the Israelites to settle in the Promised Land and conquering Jericho was a necessary step. The faithfulness and obedience of Joshua and his army is what God used to accomplish His plan.

Faith doesn't alter God's plans, but it is a crucial component of our Christians lives (2 Corinthians 4:18). Faith enables us to know God, walk with Him, and share Him with other people. We are to live by faith: "for we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). As we walk by faith, God's plans come to pass in and through us.

Related Truth:

Why does God require faith?

Is God sovereign or do we have free will?

What is God's will?

How can I tell what God's plan is?

Does the sovereignty of God have an impact on everyday life?

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