What is Faith?

Heidelberg Catechism: Question 21: What is true faith?

Answer: True faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in His Word is true; it is also a deep rooted assurance, created in me by the Holy Spirit through the gospel, that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ, not only others, but I too, have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation.

 

Observations: According to the catechism ‘only those are saved who by true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his blessings. (Q&A 20)’ Obviously if we are only saved by faith we need to know what faith is. The catechism describes faith as two things. Firstly it is ‘a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in His Word is true.’ We believe the Bible, and we believe it is God’s word and that it is true. But faith is more that just about what we believe, ‘it is also a deep rooted assurance… that… I have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation.’ What the Bible says has to be applied personally to my life. It is no good to believe that Jesus died for the sins of the world unless I believe he died for my sins. Faith must be personal. Salvation is about Jesus dying for the forgiveness of my sins, so I am made forever right with God. But the catechism hints that faith is something more again. Faith isn’t something that I engender by the strength of my will, rather is it ‘created in me by the Holy Spirit through the gospel.’ I only come to faith as the Spirit opens my eyes to the truth of the gospel. That is why the catechism talks about ‘sheer grace earned for us by Christ.’ Faith is a gift from God, and it is God who makes it grow as the Spirit applies Christ’s work and God’s word to our lives.

 

Application: If you believe that what God says in the Bible is true and that Jesus died for you then you are saved. But don’t trust in your faith, rather trust in the God who gave you that faith. It’s not the power of your faith that saves you, but the power of the God in whom you have put your faith. Remember Jesus said, ‘faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. (Mt 17:20)’ It’s not how much faith you have but who you have faith in. And you can have complete confidence that in Christ you have been saved.

 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the gift of faith that You have given me. If it wasn’t for the work of the Holy Spirit I would still be dead in my sins. But I know that Your Spirit has regenerated my dead heart, because I believe Your word, and I believe that Your Son, Jesus, died for me and that I have been made right with You forever. Lord, grow my faith in You that I will trust You more and more for all that I need, that I will honour You and declare Your greatness in all that I do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

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