We pick up then with the grace of justification; we are justified by grace alone.
WLC Q. 71: How is justification an act of God’s free grace?
A.: Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in the behalf of them that aresatisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their
justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace.
The point of the Catechism here is to impress us with the fact that the justification of believing sinners by God is an act of free and sheer grace....God freely forgives the
sins of believers without regard to anything done by us to procure that forgiveness; and on the other hand, God insists on and receives the full satisfaction of His justice and Law, as the meritorious, procuring cause of that forgiveness. (811)
First, justification is by sheer grace because God accepted the satisfaction of His justice from a Surety, which He might have demanded justly of every sinner without exception, if He had chosen to do so. (811)
He is the substitute of sinners, taking upon Himself the full debt which was due to God’s justice from sinners. He was ready to engage in this task voluntarily (Heb.
10:9). Whatever He suffered for us did not infer the least injustice in God who inflicted it. (812)
Second, God Himself provided this Surety in the person of His own only Son, imputing His righteousness to believing sinners. (813)
Furthermore, the grace of God is manifested in the Son of God’s willingness to become incarnate and engage Himself as our Surety to satisfy in full God’s justice....
"Without his consent the justice of God could not have exacted the debt of him. He being perfectly innocent, could not be obliged to suffer punishment; and it would have been unjust in God to have inflicted it, had he not been willing to be charged with our guilt, and to stand in our room and stead." 141 Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism, 2:95. (814)
Third, God requires of sinners nothing of them for their justification; but faith in Christ alone, which faith is His gift....The fact that justification is by faith alone and not by the works of the Law is proof that justification is by God’s grace alone. (814)
God was under no obligation to give anybody the gift of faith; but out of grace, He mercifully and sovereignly chose to do so to the praise and glory of His matchless
grace. Justification, then, is by the sheer grace of God, because the one instrument which God requires of us to be justified, He Himself provides: “For TO YOU IT HAS BEEN GRANTED for Christ’s sake, NOT ONLY TO BELIEVE IN HIM, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29; emphasis added). In this verse, God reveals that He has given to us, His people, as a gift of His grace: (1) The ability to believe, and (2) The privilege of suffering and enduring hardship for Christ’s sake. (815)
A.: Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and
accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.
The synonyms for faith in the Old Testament are many. Thus we read much of trusting in, on, to God, or in His Word, His name, His mercy, His salvation, of seeking and finding refuge in God or in the shadow of His wings, of committing ourselves to God, setting confidence in Him, looking to Him, relying upon Him, staying upon Him, setting or fixing the heart upon Him, binding our love on Him, cleaving to Him. (816)
The Greek word for “believe” in the Septuagint and the New Testament is pisteuein. ...
In the New Testament, “faith” and “believing” are joined to various prepositions and cases that confirm and intensify the Old Testament’s conception of faith—To believe in God the Redeemer, to assent to His word, and with firm and unwavering confidence to rest in security and trustfulness upon Him alone for salvation. (817-818)
Justifying faith "consists neither in assent nor in obedience, but in a reliant trust in the invisible Author of all good (Heb. xi:27), in which the mind is set upon the things that are above and not on the things that are upon the earth (Col. iii:2; 2 Cor. 4:16–18, Mt. 6:25).…" 149. Warfield, Biblical and Theological Studies, 422–23. (819)
The first element of justifying faith is KNOWLEDGE, or UNDERSTANDING. ...
The knowledge of faith has to do with the content of faith, what faith believes, the Biblical information to be received, understood and embraced. To be saved a person must believe certain basic, divinely-revealed information from the Bible.
"I cannot have faith in nothing. My faith must have content or an object. Before I
can have a personal relationship with God or anyone else, I must first be aware of them to some degree. I must have some intelligible understanding of what or whom I am believing. I cannot have God in my heart if he is not in my head....To be saved we may not require an exhaustive or comprehensive knowledge of God, for none of us possesses such comprehensive knowledge, but we must have some knowledge and we must have some right knowledge about God."151 Sproul, Faith Alone, 77.
We learn that knowledge is essential to justifying faith in several places in the Bible. (1) “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17)....(2) “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me”
(in faith), said Jesus (John 6:45). Learning implies understanding of the Word of God as essential to coming in faith to Christ. (3)...It should be obvious that the Word of God can be of no benefit to us, and that no one can obtain faith by the hearing of that Word, unless that person has some understanding of it. “The task of proclaiming the gospel includes more than an imparting of information, but not
less. It demands a constant clarification of the content of the gospel.”155 (4) “This is eternal life, that they might know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Personal knowledge of God of necessity includes knowledge about God drawn from the Bible by the help of the Spirit. (5)“Since every
believer is obligated to confess Christ (Matt. 10:32), to give an account of his faith (1 Pet. 3:15), it is therefore absolutely necessary that he have knowledge of those matters which he believes. He can neither confess nor give an account of that which he does not know.”156 (6) “By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (Isa. 53:11).
155. Sproul, Faith Alone, 78.
156. Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 2:272.
The second element of justifying faith is intellectual ASSENT, or BELIEF....In other words, faith is not a risky and blind “leap in the dark,” making ourselves believe something is true when we do not know it is true. “Telling a blind person to believe
he can see when he cannot see makes as much sense as telling a person to fly when he cannot fly. Saving faith involves assent to what is true, not what is false.” 162
Sproul, Faith Alone, 79. (823)
Faith is and, indeed, must be a steadfastness of the heart, which does not waver, wobble, shake, tremble, or doubt, but stands firm and is sure of its case.… When this Word enters the heart by true faith, it makes the heart as firm, sure, and certain as it is itself, so that the heart is unmoved, stubborn, and hard in the face of every
temptation, the devil, death, and anything whatever, boldly and proudly despising and mocking everything that spells doubt, fear, evil, and wrath. For it knows that God’s Word cannot lie. (824)
The Bible teaches that ASSENT is an essential element of justifying faith. (1) In Hebrews 11:1 faith is described as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is the confident assurance that God is faithful and true, that He will do what He has promised in His Word....(2) Hebrews 10:22 calls upon us to draw near to God “with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,”...(3) “He
who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true” (John 3:33)....(4) If we “receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for the witness of God is this, that He has borne witness concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe
God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has given concerning His Son” (1 John 5:9–10)....(5) “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). It is the considered judgment of Paul, the believer, that the gospel of Christ is fully reliable and “trustworthy.” (825)
The third element of justifying faith is TRUST. To appreciate this element, we must consider the case of Satan and his response to Christ. Satan had “knowledge” of Christ. He was clearly aware of who He was. He “assented” to the truth of the identity of Christ.
"But Satan personally places no… trust in Christ. He resists Christ. He does will to oppose Christ. He has no affection for Christ. In fact he despises Christ. His unmitigated hatred for Christ displays itself in an enmity that knows no bounds.…
Satan has no affection for Christ because he sees nothing lovable about Christ." 169. Sproul, Faith Alone, 85. (826)
In faith the believer ENTRUSTS himself and his eternal salvation to Jesus Christ. He relies upon Him, rests and leans upon Him. (826)
Our Catechism Q. 72 on justifying faith assumes that faith is comprised of these three elements: understanding (knowledge), assent (belief), and trust. (828)
Following briefly on the heels of the above mentioned section, is a section entitled: "The Origin of Faith". It quickly covers four "types" of faith:
The Bible speaks of different “kinds” of faith, three of which are produced by man, and therefore not justifying faith; and the fourth is produced by God in the heart of man, and is therefore justifying faith. (834)
[Historical Faith]: This is a purely intellectual apprehension of the truth and history
of the Bible, without any moral or spiritual purpose....This kind of faith may be the result of tradition, education, public opinion, or insight. It may be very orthodox and Biblical, but it is not rooted in the heart, and therefore not justifying faith. (834)
["Miraculous" Faith]: This kind of faith is a persuasion in the mind of a person that a
miracle will be performed by him or in his behalf, which is not rooted in the heart. This is “a heartfelt conviction generated by the immediate operation of God, that a given supernatural act will either occur due to a command given by us, or will be wrought upon us.”190 Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 2:264. (835)
[Temporary Faith]: This faith, produced by man is a persuasion of the truths of the
Bible which is "accompanied with some promptings of the conscience, and a stirring of the affections, but is not rooted in a regenerate heart.… It is called a temporary faith, because it is not permanent and fails to maintain itself in days of trial and persecution. This does not mean that it may not last as long as life lasts. It is quite possible that it will perish only at death, but then it surely ceases.…" 191. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 502. (835)
[Justifying Faith]: Saving faith is a gift of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8, 9) rooted in the
regenerate heart. It is “a certain conviction, wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, as to the truth of the gospel, and a hearty reliance (trust) on the promises of God in Christ.”192 Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 503. (836)
First, there would be no saving faith at all in the entire human race, if God had left sinners to themselves, for the Bible says that unbelievers are “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1); that “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7, 8). (841-842)
Second, “God has made faith a gift so that (1). He will get credit for our salvation and (2) we will not get the credit.”199 Tom Wells, Faith: The Gift of God (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983), 137 (842)
The Apostle Paul tells us that sinners believe in Jesus because of God’s mighty exertion of His omnipotence into their lives enabling them to do what they could not do in their own strength‑believe in Jesus....It is nothing less than the almighty work of God in the human heart that produces faith in Christ. Our faith is due to the same Divine omnipotence that raised Christ from the dead. (842-843)
The Holy Spirit of God works faith in the heart in the new birth, or regeneration....Without the regenerating work of the Spirit of God from heaven, no one is able to understand, appreciate, or give assent to the reality and saving power
of the kingdom of God, because of the blindness and death of the sinner’s condition....Without the purifying, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in
the heart, no one is able to enter the kingdom of God, which is salvation, which entrance is made by repentance and faith. (843-844)
The point John is making is this: believing in Jesus is the consequence, not the cause of the new birth. Faith in Jesus Christ is the effect of regeneration. (844)
What does the Holy Spirit do in the work of regeneration enabling a person to believe in Jesus?...God works faith in the sinner by changing his heart, by removing the hard heart full of hostility and rebellion toward God, replacing it with a heart that is soft and responsive to God, full of love for Him and the desire to please
Him, and by filling that new heart with His own Holy Spirit who is in the regenerate a constant source of divine power enabling and motivating him to do whatever pleases God. (845)
In creating faith in the heart the Holy Spirit of God uses the Word of God....It is Christ’s powerful voice heard in the preached Word that produces faith. Faith is born hearing the voice of the resurrected Christ in His written Word preached. (847)
(1) The Bible is full of commands and invitations encouraging sinners to come to Him for salvation. ...
(2) Faith is a giving up, or an entrusting, of ourselves to Christ to be entirely and eternally His. The Word of God sets forth Christ as having a right to our total commitment, having purchased us for Himself with His own blood. ...
(3) Faith looks to Christ alone for forgiveness of sins. The Word of God presents Christ to us as having made full satisfaction for our sins in His own obedience and death, as the propitiation for our sins, turning away God’s anger, satisfying God’s justice and reconciling us to God, by being our substitute, bearing the curse of our
sins in Himself for us. ...
(4) Faith is a trusting in and resting on Christ alone for salvation. The Word of God presents Him to us as an all-sufficient Savior, “able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him” (Heb. 7:25). Faith trusts Him to fulfill all His promises, because the Word tells us that He has engaged Himself to make good all the
promises of God to all who believe, because “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” (2 Cor. 1:20).
The Catechism tells us that justifying faith receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness (LC, Q. 72). The Bible is unequivocal: the One on whom faith rests for salvation is the God of Grace, God our Redeemer in the Lord Jesus Christ. “This one object of saving faith never varies from the beginning to the end of the scriptural
revelation.”209. Warfield, Biblical and Theological Studies, 423. (849)
The point is that justifying faith is a faith that BELIEVES IN GOD, and therefore BELIEVES GOD. Faith in God in Christ and faith in the Word of God are inseparable in justifying faith. (851)
Now, off to feed chickens and cats...