Catechism of Faith
- What is it to be justified?
To be pardoned and received by God’s favor into such a state that, if we continue therein, we shall be finally saved.
- Is faith the condition of justification?
Yes, for everyone that believeth not is condemned, and everyone who believes is justified.
- But must not repentance and works meet for repentance, go before this faith?
Without doubt; if by repentance you mean conviction of sin, and by works meet for repentance, obeying God as we can, forgiving our brother, leaving off from evil, doing good, and using his ordinances according to the power we have received.
- What is faith?
Faith in general is a divine, supernatural evidence, or conviction of things not discoverable by our bodily senses. Justifying faith implies not only a divine evidence or conviction, that God was/is Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, but a sure trust and confidence that Christ died for my sins, that He loved me and gave Himself for me. And the moment a penitent sinner believes this, God pardons and absolves him.
- Have all Christians this faith? May not a man be justified and not know it?
That all true Christians have such a faith as implies assurance of God’s love appears from Romans 7:15; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 4:3-12; Hebrews 8:10; 1 John 4:10; 5:19. And that no man can be justified and not know it, appears further from the nature of the things; for faith after repentance is ease after pain, rest after toil, light after darkness. It appears also from the immediate as well as the distant fruits thereof.
- But may not a man go to Heaven without it?
- What are the immediate fruits of justifying faith?
Peace, joy, love, power over all outward sin, and power to keep down inward sin.
- Does anyone believe who has not the witness in himself, or any longer than he sees, loves and obeys God?
We apprehend not. Seeing God is the very essence of faith; love and obedience are inseparable properties of it.
- What sins are consistent with justifying faith?
Not willful sin. If a believer willfully sins he casts away his faith. Neither is it possible he should have justifying faith again without previously repenting.
- Must every believer come into a state of doubt, or fear, or darkness? Will he do so unless by ignorance or unfaithfulness? Does God otherwise withdraw Himself?
It is certain a believer need never come again into condemnation. It seems he need not come into a state of doubt, or fear, or darkness, and that (ordinarily at least) he will not unless by ignorance or unfaithfulness. Yet it is true that the first joy seldom lasts long; that it is followed by doubts and fears and that God frequently permits great heaviness before any large manifestation of Himself.
- Are works necessary to the continuance of faith?
Without doubt, for many forfeit the free gift of God, either by sins of omission or commission.
Can faith be lost for want of works?
It cannot but through disobedience.
- How is faith made perfect by works?
The more we exert our faith, the more it is increased. To him that hath shall be given.
- St. Paul says Abraham was not justified by works; St. James, he was justified by works. Do they not contradict each other?
No. First, because they do not speak in the same justification. St. Paul speaks of that justification which was when Abraham was seventy five years old, about twenty years before Isaac was born. St. James speaks of that justification which was when he offered up Isaac on the altar. Second, because they do not speak of the same works. St. Paul speaks of works that preceded faith; St. James speaks of works that spring from it.
- In what sense is Adam’s sin imputed to all mankind?
In Adam all die, that is, first our bodies then became mortal; second our souls die, that is, were disunited from God. And hence, third, we are all born with a sinful, devilish nature by reason whereof, fourth, we are children of wrath, liable to death eternal. Roman 5:18 ; Ephesians 2:3.
- In what sense is the righteousness of Christ imputed to all mankind or to believers?
We do not find it expressly affirmed in Scripture that God imputes the righteousness of Christ to any; although we do find that Faith is imputed to us for righteousness. The text, “As by one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners; so by the obedience, of one, many were made righteous.” We conceive to mean by the merits of Christ all men are clear from the guilt of Adam’s actualtransgression. We conceive, further, through obedience of death of Christ, first the bodies of all men become immortal after the resurrection; second, their souls receive a capacity of spiritual life; and third, an actual spark or seed thereof; fourth, all believers become children of grace, reconciled to God; and fifth, made partakers of the divine nature.
- Have we, then, unaware, leaned too much toward Calvinism?
We are afraid we have.
- Have we not also leaned toward Antinomianism?
We are afraid we have.
- What is Antinomianism?
The doctrine which made void the law through faith.
- What are the main pillars thereof?
First, that Christ abolished the moral law; second, that therefore Christians are not obliged to observe it; third, that one branch of Christian liberty is liberty from obeying the commandments of God; fourth, that it is bondage to do a thing because it is commanded, or forbear because it is forbidden; fifth, that a believer is not obliged to use the ordinances of God to do good works; sixth, that a preacher ought not to exhort to good works; not believers, because it is hurtful; not believers, because it is needless.
- What was the occasion of St. Paul ’s writing his epistle to the Galatians?
The coming of certain men amongst the Galatians who taught, “Except ye be circumcised and keep the law of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”
- What is his main design herein?
To prove, first, that no man can be saved or justified by the works of the law, either moral or spiritual; second, that every believer in Christ is justified by faith, without the works of the law.
- What does he mean by the works of the law? Galatians 2:16 ff.
All works which do not spring from faith in Christ.
- What by being under the law? Galatians 2:16ff.
Under the Mosaic dispensation.
- What law has Christ abolished?
Ritual of Moses.
- What is meant by liberty? Galatians 5:1.
Liberty first from the law; second from sin.
- How come that is written on justification to be so intricate and obscure? Is this obscurity from the nature of the thing itself or from the fault or weakness of those who generally wrote about it?
We apprehend this obscurity does not arise from the nature of the subject, but partly from the extreme warmth of most writers who have treated. It.
- We affirm that faith in Christ is the sole condition of justification. But does not repentance go before that faith? Yea, and supposing that there be opportunity for them, fruits or works meet for repentance?
Without a doubt they do.
- How then can we deny them to be conditions of justification? Is not this a mere strife of words?
It seems not, though it has been grievously abused. But so let the abuse cease; let the use remain.
- Shall we read over together Mr. Baxter’s aphorisms concerning justification.
By all means.