In the book of Romans we read that “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17) and Paul in the beginning of the letter states that “the righteous shall live by faith” quoting Habakkuk chapter 2:4. These next four questions in the Heidelberg Catechism address what a Christian believes. Here are the questions “Are all saved through Christ just as all were lost through Adam?, What is true faith?, What then must a Christian believe? and What are these articles?”.
While there are several observable differences between the saved and the unsaved, the object of their worship and faith is clear. If we were to take an overview of the book of Romans, we would see how worshippers of idols become worshippers of the triune God, because of the accomplishment of Christ and those who now know God are saved by grace through faith. Christians were “…dead in the trespasses and sins,… but God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he has loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ… [We] have been saved by grace through faith, this is not of our own doing, it is the gift of God not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph 2:1-9)
The object of true faith
The object of our faith is the triune God of scripture and all that he has spoken and accomplished. We believe that what Christ accomplished on the cross saves us, we do not believe that our believing saves us. That is, a Christian does not believe that they are to trust in the process of trusting in order to be saved, as if the trusting is the method and means of salvation (the saving process). Christ and his accomplishment is the object of our faith. Being assured of our salvation comes from being convicted of the truth of Christ and his accomplishment. The conviction comes to us through the person and work of God the Holy Spirit. The Christian is convicted through the word and Spirit that they are right with God.
Without faith it is impossible to please God, therefore God in the gospel provides for us what he requires from us. The faith we have comes to us through the word and both are the gift of God. Christian faith is not faith in faith, it is not hope in the process of hoping, or belief in the process of believing, it is faith in God. Therefore, faith is both knowledge and conviction in God, his word, and the accomplishment of Christ, which we hear in the gospel.
What we believe matters and this is why God has given us his word. The word of God is God’s word to us, God knows what we need to hear and believe, God knows that we need assurance and that assurance is made known to us through his word. Throughout Church history confession and creeds were formed, based on the word of God as a means of stating what the word of God teaches and what we are to believe. The word ‘creed’ comes from the Latin word ‘credo’ which means ‘i believe and trust’, so when we speak the Apostles Creed we are saying what we believe.
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.