The Shorter Catechism, 26
Return to The Shorter Catechism main page
Q85: 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.
We lie under Godís terrible wrath and curse, as a result of our sins. How may we escape this? How may we escape Godís wrath? Is there a means to escape His curse due to our sins? Yes, there is. To escape Godís wrath and punishment due to our sins, God requires of us:
Some say that faith only is enough to be saved. But if one *says* he has faith, and does not show that faith in repentance unto life, and a diligent use of the Word and the other means of grace, then his saying deserves no credit. God requires of use both faith and repentance. Hear Paul, who wrote that he had kept back nothing that might be useful for the people. In doing so, he testified "both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Act. 20:21. We should, therefore, believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour, and repent unto life, forsaking our sins. In addition we should be diligent in the study of the Word, in listening to sermons, and using other means of grace. "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God." Prov. 2:1-5.
Q86: 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.
It is said above that God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ. But what is that, faith? What is faith in Jesus Christ. We may speak of that, and we may have these words in our mouths; we may say that one is saved by faith only, but what IS faith?
First, faith is a grace. It is a grace of God, which He gives to whom it pleases Him. Faith is a free grace. Nothing in us deserves grace. The only thing we deserve is punishment, but God in His mercy gives grace to some. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:" Eph 2:8.
Secondly, faith saves; it is a saving grace. Not through works are we saved, but only through faith. Our defiled works deserve nothing, but through faith we partake of Christ, the only perfect Man. Through faith only, and through nothing else, are we saved. "We are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." Hebr. 10:39.
Thirdly, through faith we receive Jesus Christ. It is written that, "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Joh. 1:12.
Fourthly, through faith we rest upon Him alone. Those that try to earn heaven by their own works, rest on their own capabilities. But the people that believe in Jesus, donít expect any benefits from themselves, but they rest entirely and fully on Christ alone. Jesus Christ, He is their ground and hope. Nothing else, and nobody else but Jesus will give them confidence and rest.
Fifthly, through faith we expect salvation from Christ. The believer no longer expects salvation from his own works. He forsakes all own righteousness, because he know that it deserves nothing. Through faith we expect salvation from Christ. He is the Man Who gives us salvation. "Blessed be the Lord, [who] daily loadeth us, [even] the God of our salvation. Selah." Ps 68:19.
Sixthly, faith accepts Jesus Christ as He is offered to us in the gospel. Faith does not accept a self-invented Jesus, but only the true and real Jesus, as He is offered to us in the gospel. Only the gospel, the Word of God, speaks truth. Any other Christ will not save us. Through faith we accept Jesus on the terms He is offered us in the Word. We accept the terms, which include self-denial. We accept His rules, to be governed by Him. We are His servants, forsaking own will and desires, and only doing His will. We accept the Jesus as we find Him in the gospels. "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us." Isa. 33:22. The LORD is our lawgiver, and through faith we obey His commands. The LORD is our King, and we forsake the unbearable yoke of the prince of this world. Through faith we subject ourselves unto Jesus Christ, King Messiah.
Q87: What is repentance unto life?
A: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.
We have said above that one of the things God requires of us, to be saved, is repentance unto life. But *what* is that? We may speak of repentance, but yet not practise it. We can boast of repentance, but yet be ignorant of its true meaning. What IS repentance unto life? True repentance can be described by the following:
First, repentance unto life is a saving grace. It is a gift of God. We cannot repent from ourselves, but Godís gift is the first. When the people heard that God had given His Holy Ghost also to the Gentiles, they said: "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." Act. 11:18. Note that they call repentance "granted". Repentance is a gift of God. It is a grace of God.
Secondly, the sinner repents as a result of a true sense of his sin. Only those that see that own sins can repent. When one sees nothing abominable in himself, why should he repent? He will not know where to repent of. Only those that are convinced of their sins, and of the horribleness thereof, can repent. Some pretend to repent, but they do it with a laugh on their faces. These are the hypocrites. A true sense of his sins, that is what the true repenting sinner has. A good example of this we find in the Acts. There Peter tells the people that they have committed the great sin of crucifying Jesus. The people, hearing this, become convinced of the truth of these words. Therefore we read: "When they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Acts 2:37.
Thirdly, the sinner repents because he apprehends the mercy of God in Christ." When the sinner was unaware of mercy, and yet saw his sins, he would fall in despair. Seeing only the black burden of sins, and not seeing the mercy of God in Christ, that will make the sinner despair, and finally kill him through desperation. But when the sinner apprehends the mercy of God in Christ, then he sees that there is a way out of the misery. Then he repents, seeing the goodness of God. "Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." Joel 2:13.
Fourthly, the repenting sinner grieves over his sins, and hates them. He feels that he has sinned against a good and gracious God. He is evil, and God is good and holy. The repenting sinner grieves that he has sinned so greatly and heavily. Because God hates sin, the repenting sinner also will hate sin. He knows that sin brings separation between himself and God. It separates God, Whom he begins to love. Sins are great crimes in themselves and he hates them, and mourns over his evil nature. "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth." Jer. 31: 18,19.
Fifthly, the repenting sinner turns to God. In former times this person walked on his own ways. He did his own will, and had nothing to do with any God. But now, repenting, he turns back from his own ways, and turns to God. While he once ran away from God as fast as he could, he now returns and amends his ways. He goes to God, prays to Him, and seeks Him always.
Sixthly, the repenting sinner has a full purpose of new obedience, and he fully endeavours after that. He tries to obey God. He tries to walk in the right paths. He is eagerly seeking to know Godís will, revealed in the Scriptures, and tries to live in a new obedience. He leaves nothing undone to reach his goal: a new obedience. "I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies." Ps. 119:59.