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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Assurance of Faith

How do you know you are a Christian? A wonderful statement of the Biblical assurance of faith in
the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q65: Since, then, we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, where does this
faith come from?

A65: The Holy Ghost works faith in our hearts [1] by the preaching of the Holy Gospel, and confirms
it by the use of the holy sacraments.[2]

1. John 3:5; Rom. 10:17

2. Rom. 4:11; Acts 8:37

The two wonderful gifts given by Jesus Christ to men because of His ascension into heaven are
(1) men sent to preach the Gospel, and (2) sacraments to confirm it to those who believe.

Faith which saves does not arise within yourself by yourself, but by the Holy Spirit. The reference
point from which the Holy Spirit works is the offering up of the body of Christ once for all, for no
other sacrifice can take away sins. He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven and sent the Holy
Ghost as the gift of the Father to His people.

The Holy Ghost works faith by the preaching of the Gospel [1Cor. 15:1], which is that Christ died for
our sins [the "brethren" of verse 1] according to the Scriptures, was buried, and rose the third day
according to the Scriptures. [1Cor. 15:1ff.]

The Gospel is found in the Scriptures, not in your own heart. But the Holy Spirit works in your heart
faith to believe the Scriptures. This objective [not in yourself] message of the Gospel is further
proclaimed by God to you in the sacraments, for both baptism and the Lord's Supper teach the gospel
in symbols, given by Christ, and passed down through the Scriptures from the beginning of the
Gospel with John the Baptist who was its Forerunner. [Mark 1:1]

By the Holy Spirit, faith is produced in the heart because of the Gospel, that Christ died for our sins
and both preaching and the sacraments are ordained of God to this end, that sins are washed away
through the blood of Christ, offered on the Cross in Jerusalem over two thousand years ago, which is
witnessed to us by preaching and the sacraments. [Acts 2:33,38-42, 47]

God in His wisdom communicate His grace according to His own will. We must not be wiser than
God and devise our own way. [Acts 5:20] The apostles are dead and with the Lord, but their words
and doctrines are the foundation of the faith of the elect of God. [Ephesians 2:16-22]

This common salvation becomes personal to every Christian through the work of the Holy Spirit Who
works through preaching and the sacraments. Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of
Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also
to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written,
The just shall live by faith." in each of the places in Scripture where this is stated, the "shall live" is
an indicative, a statement of fact, not a command.

Hence, both justification and life are communicated to the elect by means of faith, the gift of the Holy
Ghost [Ephesians 2:8-10], so that both are set forth visibly in the sacraments. Faith limps when either
faithful preaching or the right use of the sacraments is neglected.
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