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Catechism Class: LD25, Q65 – The Source of Saving Faith


Catechism Class: LD25, Q65

Saving Faith – Where Does it Come From?

We have learned that we receive this gift of forgiveness and salvation by faith, and faith ALONE. But how does that happen? How do we get this faith? Where does it come from? We know already that it is the gift of God, and that we passively receive it – but now the catechist gives us some more help in understanding how this faith is given to us by God.    It is found in Lord’s Day 25, Q65, Since then faith alone makes us share in Christ and all his benefits, where does this faith come from? The answer is, From the Holy Spirit,  who works it in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and strengthens it by the use of the sacraments. So in this lesson we shall look at that question, and its answer. 


1. The Root of Saving Faith. From the Holy Spirit

Have you ever wondered why it is that some people respond to the gospel message and others don’t? Our catechist shows us how dead people are made alive in Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit who takes the initiative, who begins the work of regeneration in the hearts of those whom the Lord has chosen for salvation. Philippians 1:6  Paul was convinced that God had begun the work of salvation in Timothy, and that he would complete that work. It is AFTER God begins the work in us that we are brought to repentance and faith and trust in Christ! Jesus said, John 6:63  

2. The Receipt of Saving Faith. who works it in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel,

So, the Holy Spirit has begun the work, in the heart of the sinner. Now we see the external influence that God will bring upon that sinner. He or she will hear the GOSPEL. It will be a declaration of the WORD OF GOD.  Romans 10:17 It’s quite clear. Faith comes by hearing God’s word. That’s why preaching and faithful  evangelism declaring God’s word are so essential.

So, we have a two pronged entry into the mind and heart of the sinner, the lost sheep. The Holy Spirit begins the work, prepares the ground for the seed of the Word to be sown, and creates conviction of sin, and the preached Word of God is heard, creating faith in the sinner’s life, so that the free gift of salvation can be received. The Holy Spirit removes our spiritual blindness, and the entrance of the word of God brings light. But there is one more proposition in the catechism…

3. The Reinforcement of Saving Faith. and strengthens it by the use of the sacraments

The catechist introduces the sacraments – or ‘ordinances’ as they are sometimes called. There are two of them, baptism and communion. In the 16th century, when Ursinus and his colleagues were compiling the catechism, the doctrine of the Sacraments of the Church, was a major issue. Remember that the purpose of this catechism, was to give Christians a common core of doctrine, to unite the church. But one of the biggest divisions was on the sacraments. The Calvinists of the 16th century, were deeply opposed to both the Catholic and the Lutheran view of the sacraments. So our catechist was careful to dedicate a large section of the catechism to what the sacraments are, and what they do. It is an important area of doctrine, not just for his day, but for ours also. 

Essentially, as we look at the sacraments, Ursinus will teach us that the sacraments, in conjunction with the work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner, and the preaching of the Word of God, point us to Christ, and thus strengthen the God-given, saving faith, that we must exercise to receive God’s gift of salvation. Matthew 28:19-20  1 Corinthians 10:16   But he will also emphasise that the sacraments in and of themselves do NOT save us. Salvation is by grace through faith alone.  So in our next lesson we shall look at one of those ‘difficult’ verses in 1st Peter, chapter 3:21, and ask “Why does Peter say “Baptism Saves Us” and what does he mean by that?” We will need a whole lesson for that! 

So, what have we learned in this lesson? We need faith to be saved! Yet we can’t work it up, or find it within ourselves, it is God’s gift, and God gives it to us by the work of the Holy Spirit, and by listening to / “hearing” the Word of God. That is confirmed and strengthened by the correct use of the sacraments.

© Bob McEvoy 2022

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