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Faith

Summary of a speech given by Rev. Herman Hoeksema reported by Roger Faber.

 

The subject of Rev. Hoeksema’s speech was Faith, the first member of the trilogy chosen as the convention theme. His introductory remarks were concerned with the relation between faith and the other members of the trilogy, hope and love. The root of all, and hence the greatest of all, is love in the regenerate heart. Yet without faith there is no possibility of love, for faith is the bond with Christ, the confidence that God loves us. Moreover, hope is the longing of love for perfect fellowship with God.

Rev. Hoeksema then proceeded to the first main division of his speech: Faith, what it is. In general, he stated, faith is our bond with Christ, because true faith is saving faith, and all our salvation is in Christ. Salvation consists of two parts. First, we are delivered from the greatest evil, that is, from the guilt and power of sin and from the result of sin, which is death. Second, we are made partakers of the highest good, namely righteousness, holiness, and life. All this is in Christ because He is the essence of it. The speaker then presented three illustrations of our bond with Christ. He compared it with the connection between a house and a central power plant of electricity, with the bond between a tree and the soil, and with the living connection between a branch and the vine. This bond between us and Christ is faith, he continued. Faith is a God-given power of the whole soul, the channel through which Christ imparts Himself to us, the spiritual power by which we draw our all from Him. Faith may be distinguished into two parts: first of power and activity, second of knowledge and confidence. The power is given in regeneration and is latent, like the power of speech in an infant who as yet cannot talk. The power becomes activity through the preaching of the gospel. Knowledge must include both knowledge about Christ and experiential knowledge of Him. Confidence is the assurance that God loves me, forgives my sin, and gives me eternal life.

In his second division Rev. Hoeksema discussed the relation of faith to salvation. Negatively, he said, faith is neither a work, nor a hand that accepts an offer, nor a condition. Faith is not a work which replaces the works of the Law, for it merits nothing and is itself a gift of grace. Christ merits all on the cross. It is not a hand accepting an offer, for this is too mechanical a concept and one which implies that man must do something of himself. Further, he stated that faith is not a condition or prerequisite for the following reasons: God is always first, faith is a free gift belonging to salvation, and the term condition is Arminian in origin. Positively, Rev. Hoeksema went on to say that faith is a means. All our salvation is in Christ, and by the power of the God given faith we become one plant with Him and draw all our life out of Him.

The third main point of this speech was concerned with the cause of faith, namely election. Election is not based on foreseen faith, but is rather the cause of faith and its deepest root. Hence, the speaker said, only the elect are saved and receive the gift of faith, which can never be lost. Moreover, this faith is given to us through the Holy Spirit. He implants the power of faith in us at the moment of regeneration and brings it to activity by the Word of God and the preaching of the gospel.

Rev. Hoeksema’s fourth main division treated of the fruits of faith. The first fruits of faith are good works. These good works are inevitable, for believers are active members of Christ, and it is impossible that faith should not bring forth fruit. These good works constitute our part of the covenant, namely love of God and the brother as well as repudiation of the world and hatred of sin. It is in this way that we receive assurance. Our speaker concluded with the following admonition: Do you have faith? Then bear fruit, for by the fruit the tree is known.