What is Faith?


What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin?1

To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21), with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption (Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25; Colossians 3:16).

What is faith in Jesus Christ?2

Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:16), whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel (John 20:30-31; Galatians 2:15-16; Philippians 3:3-11).

Since then faith alone makes us share in Christ and all his benefits, where does this faith come from?3

From the Holy Spirit (John 3:5; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; Ephesians 2:8; Philippians 1:29), who works it in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:23-25), and strengthens it by the use of the sacraments (Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16).

What experience do you mean?4

Our mind is too rude to be able to comprehend the spiritual wisdom of God which is revealed to us by faith, and our hearts are too prone; either to diffidence or to a perverse confidence in ourselves or creatures, to rest in God of their own accord. But the Holy Spirit by his illumination makes us capable of understanding those things which would otherwise far exceed our capacity, and forms us to a firm persuasion, by sealing the promises of salvation on our hearts.

What good accrues to us from this faith, when we have once obtained it?5

It justifies us before God, and this justification makes us the heirs of everlasting life.

In what way, then, do you say that we are justified by faith?6

Because, while we embrace the promises of the gospel with sure heartfelt confidence, we in a manner obtain possession of the righteousness of which I speak.

Footnotes

  1. Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647), Question 85.
  2. Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647), Question 86.
  3. Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Question 65.
  4. Geneva Catachism (1545), Question 113.
  5. Geneva Catachism (1545), Question 114.
  6. Geneva Catachism (1545), Question 119.

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