Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith
What is faith? Is it simply believing something without any and contrary to evidence? Is it wishful thinking? Dr. Wayne Grudem defines faith as:
Trust or dependence on God based on the fact that we take him at his word and believe what he has said.
The Confession, in chapter 11 paragraph 2, defines faith as:
Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification...
In this chapter, we will look at different aspects and things related to faith, such as: What is faith? What kinds of faith are there? Can our faith be strengthened? Is our faith a gift of grace? What is included in the nature of faith? What are the object, effects, ground, elements of faith? We will mind ourselves with such questions.
The formulations of the Confession in this chapter are not exactly ordered in the way that systematic theologies talk about faith. Although I would like to deal with many aspects of faith and not merely the ones directly mentioned. So, there will be quite some sending forth and back between the paragraphs and different chapters in the Confession where different things are dealt with. I pray that this may be a blessing to the church of Christ and for the strengthening of our personal faith.
§1 The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit
- The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; 1 by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. 2
- John 6:37, 44; Acts 11:21, 24; 13:48; 14:27; 15:9; 2 Cor. 4:13; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2
- Rom 4:11; 10:14, 17; Luke 17:5; Acts 20:32; 1 Peter 2:2
Faith is a grace that’s why the Confession specifically speaks about the grace of faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Our faith is a gift from God (chapter 11:1). This faith is said to be that whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls—it is the sole instrument of justification (chapter 11:2). Furthermore, this grace of faith...is the work of the Spirit of Christ (John 6:63; Ezek. 36:25-27). Faith is our response to the call of God, but it does not originate with us. It is granted to us by God and it is worked in us by the Holy Spirit through regeneration and the creation of the new man in Christ. It is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:23), i.e., by the preaching of the gospel coupled with the work of the Spirit of Christ. This faith is further strengthened by the means of grace. These are the gospel ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But also prayer, Bible reading and study, the communion of the saints and other things prescribed and commended in the Word of truth. By these means, faith is not created, but it is increased and strengthened.
We will start our study of faith by first noting which words are used in the New Testament especially to denote faith and belief. The word faith or belief in our daily lives may be used in a lot of senses. We may say that we believe that someone is speaking the truth and mean that we have confidence. We may say, “I believe that I’ve read that book” when we actually mean that...