THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ?

ANSWER: Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.


Q. 1. What are the several kinds of faith mentioned in scripture?

A. They are these four: historical, temporary, the faith of miracles, and saving faith.

Q. 2. What is historical faith?

A. It is a bare assent to the truth of what is revealed in the word, without any real affection or regard to the things revealed in it. Such a faith as this may be found in devils, James 2:19; and in wicked men, Acts 8:13.

Q. 3. Why called historical?

A. Not merely because it believes only the histories of the Bible; but because it assents to the truths revealed in it, as being little or no way concerned in them, or without any particular application of them to the soul, Acts 28:26.

Q. 4. What is temporary faith?

A. It is such as, together with an assent to the truth of divine revelation, is also accompanied with some slight and transient motion upon the affections; which may endure for awhile, and then vanishes, Matt. 13:20, 21.

Q. 5. Has this kind of faith any influence upon the practice?

A. It may be, for a time, accompanied with an external reformation from some grosser sins, 2 Pet. 2:20.

Q. 6. What is the faith of miracles?

A. It is that peculiar gift, by which a person believes, that, by the power of God, something shall be effected by him which is quite above the power of all natural causes, 1 Cor. 13:2.

Q. 7. On what occasion has God bestowed upon any this faiths?

A. For the confirmation of some extraordinary mission, or of some important article of revealed religion; as the miracles of Moses under the Old Testament; and of the apostles under the New.

Q. 8. Was not the faith of miracles, in the days of our Saviour and his apostles, conferred upon some who were not in a state of salvation?

A. Yes; both the extraordinary gift of the faith of miracles, and the ordinary and common gifts of the Spirit, were conferred upon some, who, we are assured, will be utterly rejected of God, Matt. 7:22, 23 -- "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not PROPHESIED in thy name? and in thy name have CAST OUT DEVILS? and in thy name done many WONDERFUL WORKS? And then will I profess unto them, I never KNEW you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Q. 9. What is saving and justifying faith?

A. It is that faith in Jesus Christ, which is described in the answer, "whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation," &c.

Q. 10. Why is this faith, described in the answer, called a grace?

A. Because it is the gift of God, freely bestowed upon the sinner, Eph. 2:8, who has no antecedent worth, value, or good qualification, of which he can boast, 1 Cor. 4:7.

Q. 11. Why a saving grace?

A. Because wherever true faith is, there salvation is already begun, which shall certainly be consummated in due time, John 3:36.

Q. 12. Where is the connexion established between faith and salvation?

A. Faith being the gifted hand that is stretched out to receive Christ in the promise, Psalm 68:31, cannot but be inseparably connected with salvation; because Christ, whom faith receives, is the ALL of our salvation, Col. 3:11: hence is that promise, Mark 16:16 -- "He that believeth -- shall be saved."

Q. 13. Why is it called faith in Jesus Christ?

A. Because Christ is the main, or principal object of saving faith, Acts 16:31.

Q. 14. Why do you call him the main or principal object of faith?

A. Because nothing can fill the eye or hand of faith, but Christ only, or God in him, Psalm 73:25.

Q. 15. How is faith in Jesus Christ denominated in the answer?

A. It is called a receiving, John 1:12, and resting on him, Psalm 37:7.

Q. 16. Are there not other denominations of faith in Christ of the same divine authority with those mentioned?

A. Yes; such as eating, drinking, flying, entering, and many others.

Q. 17. From whence are these various denominations of faith derived?

A. From the different views in which Christ is represented in the word.

Q. 18. How may the above denominations of faith be applied to the different views in which Christ is represented in the word?

A. When the flesh and blood of Christ (or his incarnation and satisfaction) are exhibited as meat indeed, and drink indeed; faith, in conformity to this, is called eating and drinking of the same, John 6:55, 56; when Christ is held forth as a refuge, faith is a flying to him for safety, Heb. 6:18; and when he is represented as a door, faith is an entering in by him, John 10:9.

Q. 19. Why is faith, in the answer, expressed by receiving?

A. Because Christ, the glorious object of it, is revealed in scripture, under the notion of a gift, 2 Cor; 9:15, presented to such as are quite poor, and have nothing of their own, Rev. 3:17, 18.

Q. 20. Can there be a receiving of Christ, without a previous giving of him?

A. No; there may indeed be a giving, where there is no receiving, because the gift may be refused; but there can be no such thing as a receiving of Christ, without a giving of him before; for "a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven," John 3:27.

Q. 21. Why is faith called a resting on Christ?

A. Because he is revealed in the word as a firm foundation, Isa. 28:16, on which we may lay the weight of our everlasting concerns, with the greatest confidence and satisfaction, Psalm 116:7.

Q. 22. To what other scripture expression is resting on Christ equivalent?

A. It is the same with TRUSTING in him, Isa. 26:4; or relying on his righteousness and fulness, as laid out in the word, for our unanswerable plea, and inexhaustible treasure, chap. 45:24.

Q. 23. For what end do we receive Christ and rest upon him?

A. For salvation, Acts 15:11.

Q. 24. What is the salvation for which we receive and rest upon Christ?

A. It is salvation from sin, Matt. 1:21, as well as from wrath, 1 Thess. 1:10; consisting in a life of holiness here, as well as of happiness hereafter. It is salvation begun in this life, and consummated in glory, Rev. 3:21.

Q. 25. Why are we said to receive and rest upon Christ alone for this salvation?

A. To exclude every thing else except Christ himself, and his righteousness, as the ground of our confidence before God, and title to eternal life, Acts 4:12.

Q. 56. What else do men ordinarily rest upon for salvation?

A. Upon the general mercy of God; the works of the law; or a mixture of their own works with the righteousness of Christ.

Q. 27. Who are they that rest on the general mercy of God?

A. They who never saw the necessity of a satisfaction to law and justice, in order to the honourable exercise of mercy, according to Ex. 34:7.

Q. 28. Who are they who rest on the works of the law, as the ground of their confidence?

A. Such as have never been convinced that the demands of the law are utterly above their reach, Gal. 3:12.

Q. 29. Who are they that are for blending or mixing their own works with the righteousness of Christ, as the ground of their hope?

A. Such as foolishly imagine they can supply what is defective in their own obedience, by what Christ has done for them, Rom. 9:31, 32.

Q. 30. To what does our Lord resemble this practice?

A. To the putting "a piece of new cloth into an old garment," by which "the rent is made worse," Matt. 9:16.

Q. 31. Are not the very expressions of receiving and resting on Christ, designed to exclude the works of the law, from being any part of the ground of our hope of salvation?

A. Yes; for, when a poor man receives his alms, or a weary man sits down, and rests himself; neither of them can, in any propriety of speech, be said to work,

Q. 32. Upon what warrant do we receive and rest upon him for salvation?

A. Upon the warrant of his being offered.

Q. 33. To whom is he offered?

A. He is offered to us, men and women of Adam's family, in contradistinction to the angels that fell, Heb. 2:16.

Q. 34. Where is the offer made?

A. In the gospel.

Q. 35. What is the gospel as containing this offer.

A. It is good tidings, Luke 2:10; or the promise of eternal life, 1 John 2:25, to sinners of mankind, as such, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Prov. 8:4.

Q. 36. Though the offer of Christ to us be last mentioned, in the answer, yet is it not the first thing to Be believed?

A. Surely it is; for unless one believe that Christ is offered to him as a Saviour, he will never receive and rest upon him for salvation, Rom. 10:14.

Q. 37. Who offers Christ to us in the gospel?

A. God, essentially considered in the person of the Father, makes the original or authentic gospel offer of him, John 6:32 -- "My Father GIVETH you the true bread from heaven."

Q. 38. In what form or tenor does this authentic offer run?

A. In the form of a deed of gift, or grant, in which he makes over his Son, Jesus Christ, to mankind lost, that whosoever of them all shall receive this gift, shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Q. 39. In what text of scripture (amongst others) is this grant, or authentic gospel offer, contained?

A. It is expressed in so many words, John 3:16 -- "God so loved the world, that he GAVE his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Q. 40. Who are they that offer Christ to sinners in subordination to God?

A. Ministers of the gospel, who have a commission from him so to do, 2 Cor. 5:19, 20.

Q. 41. What is the ministerial offer?

A. It is the publishing or proclaiming of Heaven's gift, or grant, to sinners of mankind, without exception, as the foundation of their faith or warrant to believe, 1 John 5:11.

Q. 42. What would be the consequence, if there were any exception in the authentic gospel offer?

A. The consequence would be, that no ministerial offer of Christ could be made to the party excepted, more than to the fallen angels.

Q. 43. Does the universality of Heaven's grant, and of the ministerial offer founded on it, infer a universal redemption as to purchase?

A. By no means; it only infers a universal warrant to believe.

Q. 44. How do you prove that it infers a universal warrant to believe?

A. From this, that if there were not such a gift and grant of Christ as warranted all to receive him, the unbelieving world could not be condemned for rejecting him, as we find they are, John 3:18 -- "He that believeth not is condemned already."

Q. 45. Is there any analogy, or proportion, between our receiving and resting on Christ, and the offer that is made of him in the gospel?

A. Yes; we receive and rest upon him as he is offered in it, 1 Cor. 15:11 -- "So we preach, and so ye believed."

Q. 46. How is he offered in the gospel?

A. He is offered freely, wholly, and particularly.

Q. 47. How do you prove, that he is offered, and should be received freely?

A. From Isa. 55:1 -- "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price;" Rev. 22:17 -- " Whosoever will, let him take the water of life FREELY."

Q. 48. Why is Christ to be received freely?

A. Because God, out of his sovereign and matchless love, makes a free gift of him to mankind sinners, John 3:16, as being infinitely above all price, Job 28:13-24.

Q. 49. What do the proud and legal hearts of sinners bring as a price for Christ, who is absolutely inestimable?

A. Their duties, their good qualifications, their honest aims, their sincere endeavours, and the like.

Q. 50. Why do they presume to bring such things as these?

A. Because they know not that they are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," Rev. 3:17.

Q. 51. What is it to receive Christ wholly?

A. It is to receive him in his person, as vested with all his relative offices, of prophet, priest, and king.

Q. 52. Why must he be received wholly?

A. Because there is nothing of Christ we can possibly do without: standing in absolute need of him, as a prophet for instruction; as a priest, for righteousness; and as a king, for sanctification, 1 Cor. 1:30.

Q. 53. What is it for a person to receive Christ particularly?

A. It is to be verily persuaded that Christ is his, upon the grant and offer of him, in the word, to him in particular, John 7:37, and 9:36.

Q. 54. Is it not sufficient that a man believe, that the grant and offer of Christ is to sinners of mankind in general?

A. No; there can be no benefit by a belief of the general offer, without a particular application, or appropriation of it to the person himself, 1 Tim. 1:15.

Q. 55. How is this illustrated by an example?

A. It is commonly illustrated thus: If a king makes a proclamation of pardon and indemnity to all the rebels within his kingdom, it is plain, that every individual rebel must either believe the pardon of his own crime of rebellion in particular, or else reject the king's proclamation of grace, and continue in his rebellious practices: there is no medium.

Q. 56. Is not believing that an indemnity is offered to rebels in general, a medium between the two?

A. No; because loyal subjects, who need no pardon, may believe that a general indemnity is offered to rebels; and this even rebels themselves may believe, who yet may reject the benefit of that indemnity, and continue in their rebellion, John 5:40.

Q. 57. Is a belief and persuasion of the mercy of God in Christ, and of Christ's ability and willingness to save all that come to him, all that is necessary to constitute justifying faith?

A. No; because there being no appropriation, or particular application in this persuasion, it can be no more than such a faith as devils and reprobates may have; or such as Papists and Arminians may subscribe to, consistently with their other errors and heresies.

Q. 58. What is that appropriating persuasion, in the nature of faith, which is necessary to answer the call and offer of the gospel?

A. It is not a persuasion that Christ is mine in possession, or that I am already in a state of grace: but a persuasion that Christ is mine in the gift of God, and offer of the gospel, Zech. 13:9 -- "I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God": and therefore I appropriate to myself the common salvation, Acts 15:11; or what did lie before me in common, in the gospel offer, I take home to my own soul in particular, Gal. 2:20 -- "Who loved me, and gave himself for me"believing that I shall have life and salvation by Christ; and that whatever he did, for the redemption of sinners, he did it for me.

Q. 59. Why is an appropriating persuasion (or, a man's being persuaded that Christ is his in particular) necessary to the nature of saving and justifying faith?

A. Because nothing can relieve the sinner from the curse of the law, accusing and condemning him in particular, but faith's application of an offered Saviour, as "made a curse" for him in particular, to deliver him from that `law-curse,' Gal. 3:10, 13.

Q. 60. How do you prove, that a particular application of Christ is the effectual relief from the curse of the law, denounced against the sinner in particular?

A. From this, that the free gift is as full to justification, as the offence, through the law, was to condemnation; for, "as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life," Rom. 5:18.

Q. 61. Since an appropriating persuasion is necessary to the nature of faith, has every one that has true faith, always an assurance of his being in a gracious state?

A. No; for though a believer be persuaded that Christ is his in the promise and offer of the gospel: yet, through the prevalency of remaining corruption, he may frequently doubt of his being in a state of grace, or of his present title to eternal life, Isa. 49:14.

Q. 62. Is doubting, then, in the nature of faith, because it is incident to the believer?

A. Doubting can no more be said to be in the nature of faith because, through the prevalence of unbelief and corruption, it sometimes takes place in the believer, than darkness can be said to be in the nature of the sun, because it is sometimes eclipsed; for faith and doubting are, in their own nature, opposite, Matt. 21:21 -- "If ye have faith, and doubt not."

Q. 63. Have all true believers the same measure of saving faith?

A. No; some are but "of little faith," Matt. 14:31; whereas others are "strong in faith; giving glory to God," Rom. 4:20. Howbeit the lowest measure of true and saving faith is infallibly connected with glory, Matt. 12:20.

Q. 64. What are the evidences of a strong faith?

A. Trusting to the bare word of a faithful and powerful God, even when the outward course of providence seems to run against the performance of the promise, Rom. 4:19; a fixed resolution to wait on the Lord, for the promised good which we want, even after seeming repulses and refusals, Matt. 15:22-29; and a sedate reposing ourselves on an unchangeable God, under all the vicissitudes of time, Psalm 112:7.

Q. 65. How may the weakness of faith be discerned?

A. The more easily a person can suspect the love and favour of God, Isa. 40:27; the more impatient under delays of answering requests, chap. 38:14; and the more addicted to a life of sense, John 20:25, the weaker is the faith.

Q. 66. How may the truth and reality of saving faith be known, though it be in the weakest and lowest degree?

A. If we bear an inward enmity to all sins, because offensive to God, Psalm 51:4; if we can say, that it is the desire of our souls to love Christ above all things, John 21:17; and to be eternal debtors to free grace, reigning through his righteousness, Rom. 5:20, 21; then we may warrantably conclude, that our faith, however weak, is yet of a saving nature.

Q. 67. To what is true faith opposed in scripture?

A. It is opposed to a staggering at the promise, Rom. 4:20; to wavering, James 1:6; to doubting, Matt. 21:21; and, in a word, to unbelief, Mark 9:24.

Q. 68. Who are they who will not be charged with the sin of unbelief?

A The Heathen world, who are not privileged with the light of gospel-revelation, Rom. 10:14 -- " How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?"

Q. 69. What is the evil of this sin in those who are favoured with gospel light?

A. It makes God a liar, 1 John 5:10; treads "under foot the Son of God;" and does "despite unto the Spirit of grace," Heb. 10:29.

Q. 70. What is the proper seat of faith?

A. The HEART "for with the HEART man believeth unto righteousness," Rom. 10:10; though faith be radically in the understanding, yet it operates upon the will, which embraces the object with particular application, Heb. 11:13.

Q. 71. Is knowledge necessary to saving faith?

A. It is so necessary that there can be no saving faith without it, 1 John 4:16 -- "We have KNOWN and believed the love that God hath to us."

Q. 72. What is the difference between the knowledge of faith, and speculative knowledge?

A. The knowledge of faith is humbling, 1 Cor. 8:2; transforming, Acts 26:18; affectionate, 1 John 4:8; and progressive, Hos. 6:3:whereas, common or speculative knowledge has none of these properties, nor effects.

Q. 73. In what consists the harmony or agreement between faith, love and hopes?

A. By faith, we get a sight of an unseen good, and believe it, Heb. 11:27; by love we desire and seek after it, Isa. 26:8; and by hope, we confidently expect, and patiently wait for it, Rom. 8:25.

Q. 74. How does faith view and consider its objects?

A. It views them, as certain, suitable, and invisible.

Q. 75. Why does it view them as certain?

A. Because of the unquestionable veracity of God who reveals them, John 6:69 -- "We believe, and are SURE, that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God."

Q. 76. Why does it consider them as suitable?

A. Because they are exactly adapted to the state and circumstance of the soul, whatever they are, 1 Cor. 1:30; 1 Tim. 1:15.

Q. 77. Why does faith view its objects as invisibles?

A. Because it acts and goes forth toward them, upon the bare testimony of God; not only without the concurrence of sense and carnal reason, John 20:29, but oftentimes contrary to them, Rom. 4:18, 19.

Q. 78. Is faith any part of our justifying righteousness?

A. No; we acknowledge no other righteousness, for pardon and acceptance, but the righteousness of Christ alone, Phil, 3:9.

Q. 79. Why then are we said to be "justified by faith"? Rom. 5:1.

A. Because it is faith which lays hold upon, and receives that righteousness by which we are justified, Rom 3:22.

Q. 80. Is not faith necessary to interest us in Christ, and the benefits of his purchase?

A. Yes; for though the endorsement of the promise to us, gives us a right of access, Acts 2:39; yet it is faith, that gives the right of possession, John 6:47 -- "He that believeth on me HATH everlasting life."


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