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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 1 of 2)

The fact of the historic Christ is there


"When faith is of the kind that God awakens and creates in the heart, then a man trusts in Christ. He is then so securely founded on Christ that he can hurl defiance at sin, death, hell, the devil, and all God's enemies. He fears no ill, however hard and cruel it may prove to be. Such is the nature of true faith, which is utterly different from the faith of the sophists (the Schoolmen), Jews, and Turks. Their faith, produced by their thoughts, simply lights upon a thing, accepts it, believes that it is this or that. God has no dealings with such delusion; it is the work of man, and comes from nature, from the free will of man; and men possessing it can say, repeating what others have said: I believe that there is a God. I believe that Christ was born, died, rose again for me. But what the real faith is, and how powerful a thing it is, of this they know nothing."(399)

He says again:

"Wherefore, beware of that faith which is manufactured or imagined; for the true faith is not the work of man, and therefore the faith which is manufactured or imagined will not avail in death, but will be overcome and utterly overthrown by sin, by the devil, and by the pains of hell. The true faith is the heart's utter trust in Christ, and God alone awakens this in us. He who has it is blessed, he who has it not is cursed."(400)

justify;"> This faith has an outside fact to rest upon--the historical Christ. It is neither helped nor hindered by a doctrine of the Person of Christ, nor by a minute and elaborate knowledge of the details of our Lord's earthly ministry. The man who has the faith may know a great deal about the doctrine of the Person of Christ: that will do his faith no harm but good, provided only he does not make the mistake of thinking that doctrines about Christ, ways by which the human understanding tries to conceive the fact, are either the fact itself or something better than the fact. He may know a great deal about the history of Jesus, and it is well to know as much as possible; but the amount of knowledge scarcely affects the faith. Wayfaring men, though fools, need not err in the pathway of faith.

The faith which is the gift of God makes us see the practical meaning in the fact of the historic Christ--this, namely, that Jesus Christ is there before us the manifestation of the Fatherly love of God, revealing to us our own forgiveness, and with it the possibilities of the Kingdom of God and of our place therein. The fact of the historic Christ is there, seen by men in a natural way; but it is the power of God lying in the faith which He has given us that makes us see with full certainty the meaning of the fact of the historic Christ for us and for our salvation. Moreover, this vision of God in the historic Christ, which is the deepest of all personal things, always involves something social. It brings us within the family of the faithful, within the Christian fellowship with its confirming evidences of faith and love. The power of faith comes to us singly, but seldom solitarily; the trust we have in God in Christ is faintly mirrored in the faith we learn to have in the members of the household of faith, and in their manifestations of faith and the love which faith begets.

What has been called the doctrine of Justification


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