The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. It also says that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Unbelievers do not have the gift of the Holy Spirit. So how can they have faith?
Only Christians have faith in God. That means they believe Jesus Christ is who He claims to be. They believe that only Jesus can forgive their sins and they ask Him to do that.
Yes, faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (NASB) Rom. 10:17
Faith is also a gift from God just as grace is a gift.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God . . . (NASB) Eph. 2:8
Faith in Jesus Christ comes by hearing, but it is the Holy Spirit who helps the non-Christian believe in Jesus Christ and then continues to help the Christian to understand the Word of God.
When Does Faith Come?
We respond to Jesus in faith at a moment in time. We are Christians when we believe. It is an act of God and it is a choice on our part. Faith is not just simply believing facts about Jesus. It is actually trust. We trust and depend on Jesus to forgive our sins because we believe that He is who He claims to be and because we want our sins forgiven.
The Holy Spirit helps us understand the message we hear from the Bible. We respond in faith because He helps us believe and yet we choose to believe. It all comes together at one moment in time. In the book of Acts, a group of people who had heard the apostle Peter preach about Jesus Christ asked, “What shall we do?” Listen to Peter’s response.
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NASB) Acts 2:37-38
They had already believed. That is why they asked, “What shall we do?” They were already convinced that Jesus was the Christ. All that was left to be done was to want to turn away from their sins and demonstrate their changed attitudes by being baptized.