The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 85 & 86.
Q. 85. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin?
A. To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.
Faith in Jesus Christ. –Believing in the name of Christ, and receiving him as the only Saviour of our souls. (See Explic. Q. 86.)
Repentance unto life. –A true and heartfelt sorrow for sin, accompanied with such a hatred of it, and such a complete turning from it, as is necessary to eternal life. (See Explic. Q. 87.)
Outward means. –The preaching of the gospel of Christ, the reading of God’s word, the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, and the exercise of the duty of prayer, &c. (See Explic. Q. 88.)
Communicateth to us. –Imparts to us, or bestows upon us.
Benefits of redemption. –The blessings of the gospel salvation, which are procured or purchased by Christ, for his people; such as, a free and full pardon of all our sins, the sanctification of our souls by the Holy Spirit, &c.
In this answer, there are four very important matters made known to us:
- That there is a possibility of escaping the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin. –Isa. lv. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
- That means are appointed by God, to be used by us, for this purpose. –Matt vii. 7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
- That faith in Christ, and repentance unto life, are necessary parts of these means. –Acts xx. 21. Testifying, both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.
- That the outward means, by which Christ communicates the benefits of redemption, are also to be diligently used. –Rom. x. 13, 14. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved. How, then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
Q. 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. 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.
Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace. –Faith, as here described, is called a grace, because it is a gift freely bestowed, by the favor of God, upon the sinner, who has no merit of his own, to give him any claim to it. This faith is called a saving grace, because wherever it is, the work of salvation is begun, which God will assuredly complete in due time. This saving grace is called faith in Christ, because he is the only object on which it rests.
As he is offered to us in the gospel. –That is we are to receive Christ in all his offices, as our prophet, our priest, and our king, and as an example, that we should follow his steps; in all of which, he is offered to us in the gospel.
The information here received, respecting faith in Christ, may be divided into five parts:
- That it is a saving grace. –Heb. x. 39. We are not of them that draw back to perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
- That it is by faith, that we receive Jesus Christ. –John i. 12. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.
- That by it we rest upon him. –Matt. xi. 28, 29. Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek, and lowly of heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
- That by this faith, we are enabled to receive and rest upon CHRIST ALONE for salvation. –Acts. iv. 12. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Eph. ii. 8. By grace are ye saved, through faith.
- That it receives and rests upon Christ, as he is offered in the gospel. –Rom. x. 17. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (or the gospel).