Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Faith That Works

This passage from Charles Hodge, to me, compellingly makes the case that true, saving faith will necessarily be transformative, thus securing the link between God-given genuine faith and the believer’s inevitable (though imperfect/incomplete in this life) allegiance/obedience (new affections and new actions), as the fruit of faith.  And so, the Reformed maxim is true:  faith alone saves (more accurately, Christ saves through faith alone), but the faith/believing that saves will not remain alone, but will bear fruit in new affections/obedience/good works.

“But that faith which is the gift of God, which arises from his opening our eyes to see the excellence of the truth, is attended with joy and love. These feelings are as immediately and necessarily attendant on this kind of faith, as pleasure is on the perception of beauty. Hence faith is said to work by love. And as all revealed truth is the object of the faith of which we now speak, every truth must, in proportion to the strength of our faith, produce its appropriate effect upon the heart. A belief of the being and perfections of God, founded upon the apprehension of his glory, must produce love, reverence and confidence, with a desire to be conformed to his image. Hence the apostle says: We all, with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of God, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the spirit of the Lord, (2 Corinthians 3: 18).

“Faith in his threatenings, founded upon a perception of their justice, their harmony with his perfections, and the ill-desert of sin, must produce fear and trembling. His people, therefore, are described as those who tremble at his Word. Faith in his promises, founded upon the apprehension of his faithfulness and power, their harmony with all his revealed purposes, their suitableness to our nature and necessities, must produce confidence, joy and hope.

“This was the faith which made Abraham leave his own country, to go to a strange land; which led Moses to esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. This was the faith of David also, of Samuel, and of all the prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. This is the faith which leads all the people of God to confess that they are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and that they look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

“This is the faith which overcomes the world, which leads the believer to set his affections on things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God; which enables him to glory even in tribulation, while he looks not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal. And what shall we say of a faith in Jesus Christ founded upon the apprehension of the glory of God, as it shines in him; which beholds that glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth; which contemplates the Redeemer as clothed in our nature; the first-born of many brethren; as dying for our sins, rising again for our justification, ascending into heaven and as now seated at the right hand of God, where he ever liveth to make intercession for us?

“Such a faith the apostle tells us, must produce love, for he says, Whom having not seen ye love, and in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. The soul gladly receives him as a Saviour in all the characters and for all the purposes for which he is revealed; and naturally desires to be conformed to his will, and to make known the unsearchable riches of his grace to others. It is no less obvious that no one can believe the representations given in the Scriptures respecting the character of man and the ill-desert of sin, with a faith founded upon right apprehension of the holiness of God and the evil of his own heart, without experiencing self-condemnation, self-abhorrence, and a constant hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Thus of all the truths in the Word of God, it may be said, that so far as they are believed in virtue of this spiritual apprehension, they will exert their appropriate influence upon the heart and consequently upon the life.

“That such a faith should not produce good fruits is as impossible as that the sun should give light without heat.”

-- Charles Hodge,  "The Way of Life" (Kindle Locations 1833-1856). Counted Faithful. Kindle Edition.

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