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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of Saving Faith.

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.


Q. 1. What is the root or cause of faith?
A. Not the power of manís will; Ephesians 2:8. For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; But the Spirit of God. Galatians 5:22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. John 1:12-13. But as man as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Q. 2. How doth the Spirit of God ordinarily produce faith?
A. By the preaching of the word he ordinarily begets it; Romans 10:17. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; though sometimes he doth it immediately.

Q. 3. Who are the proper subjects of faith?
A. Convinced and sensible sinners are the proper subjects of faith; John 16:8-10. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they believe not on me: of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more: of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Q. 4. What is the seat or habitation of faith?
A. Not only the head or understanding, but principally the heart and will; Romans 10:10. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, &c. Acts 8:37. And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.

Q. 5. But is not the assent of the understanding true faith?
A. The mere assent of the understanding to the truths of scripture, is not such a faith as will save the soul; James 2:19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou dost well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Q. 6. What is the act of faith that justifies a sinner?
A. It is the receiving of Christ, by the full and hearty consent of the heart that justifies us? John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave lie power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

Q. 7. What is the object of faith?
A. The primary object of faith is the person of Christ, and the secondary are his benefits; Isaiah 45:22. Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth, &c. Philippians 3:8-9. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ; the righteousness which is of God by faith.

Q. 8. May not a man look partly to Christ, and partly to his own works and duties for righteousness?
A. No; he must eye Christ only, and exclude all others, or he cannot be justified; Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ: The righteousness which is of God by faith, Romans 4:5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Q. 9. Is it enough to eye the person of Christ only in believing?
A. No; we must eye the person of Christ, as clothed with all his offices; Acts 16:31. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thine house. Our ignorance needs him as a prophet, our guilt as a priest, our sins and enemies as a king.

Q. 10. Is true faith faith exclusive of all fears and doubts?
A. No; it is not, but true believers are troubled with many fears and doubtings; Isaiah 50:10. Who is he among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light, &c. Mark 9:24. And straightway the Father of the child crieth out with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.

Q. 11. Is no man actually justified till he believe?
A. No, he cannot be justified actually till he believe actually; Galatians 3:22. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. John 3:18. He that believeth on him, is not condemned: But he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Q. 12. Is every man that believes justified immediately and fully upon his believing?
A. Yes, he is; Romans 5:1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. John 5:24. He that heareth my words, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Q. 13. What is the true character or description of a believer?
A. He is one that, having been convinced of his sin and misery, and of his own and all other creatures inability to save him, and of the ability and willingness of Christ to save him, lets go all hold and dependence on creatures, and his own righteousness, and casts himself entirely upon Christ for righteousness and life.

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