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Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb. 11.

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapters 14–15

I. Pastries
II. Review of the Order (of Application) of Salvation (Ordo Salutis)
III. Illustrations
A. Relation of Faith and Repentance
B. From Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
IV. Of Saving Faith (Chapter 14)
A. Grace and Means¶1
B. Aspects ¶2
i. Intellect
ii. Emotion
iii. Volition
C. Object ¶2
i. Specific
ii. General
D. Why Faith is Victorious ¶3
V. Of Repentance Unto Life (Chapter 15)
A. Grace ¶1
B. Aspects ¶¶1-2
i. Intellect
ii. Emotion
iii. Volition
C. Not Satisfactory but Necessary ¶3
D. Assurance ¶4
E. Confession ¶¶5-6
VI. Conversion
A. When
B. How
VII. Errors
A. Rome—Penance and Indulgences
i. Externalizing
ii. Penance and Indulgences
B. Anabaptists and Methodists
C. Pelagius and the Arminians
D. Liberal Theology
E. Neo-Orthodoxy

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Cor, 7.10
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb. 11.1

Westminster Chapters 14–15 Of Saving Faith and Repentance Unto Life

I. Pastries
Where the teacher offers material goods to encourage the class to consider this is the first time he has taught
to his peers.

II. Review of the Order (of Application) of Salvation (Ordo Salutis)


We -tion the suffix ‘-ism’ in favour of a new suffix.
Salvation is applied to the person by the Holy Spirit and presupposes union with Christ. The Way of Salvation
is a unitary process but different movements may be discerned. The order of application of salvation is: the
general call, regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance of the saints, and
glorification. Conversion consists of faith and repentance which continue throughout the Christian life.

III. Illustrations
One showing the relation of faith and repentance (reflecting the teacher prior job teaching children) and the
other illuminating what faith is not (but illustrating the teacher’s geekiness).

IV. Of Saving Faith (Chapter 14)


To be distinguished from various types of false faith.
Historical faith is a purely intellectual acceptance of the truth of Scripture without any moral or spiritual
response. Faith of miracles is a person’s conviction that he will work miracle or one will be worked in his
behalf. Temporal faith mimics saving faith but is not from a regenerate heart. Cp. Mt 13.20–21 1

A. Grace and Means ¶1


In which the junior highers giggle at the Latin.
Faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit who applies salvation to us (Titus 3.5, Eph 2.8). The Holy Spirit uses
preaching of the Gospel to create and strengthen faith. (Rom 10.14, 17, 1 Cor 1.21) In regeneration God
implants the seed of faith (semen fidei) from which springs the act (actus) and disposition (habitus) of faith.
This faith is strengthened not only by the Word but by the other means of grace: the sacraments and prayer.
How thankful are we that God did not leave us without witness to himself and communication to him.

B. Aspects ¶2
Faith is given by God and the whole man responds in all his faculties. More uses of ‘-tion’.
While God has given in regeneration the seed of faith, we believe and exercise faith. While faith is the
activity of the whole man, three aspects may be discerned: the intellect (cognition, notia), the emotion
(assent, assensus), and will (volition, fiducia). While faith is not mere knowledge, faith includes recognition
of the truth in the Word of God, specifically as concerns Jesus Christ, the Saviour of humanity. Because the
object of faith is the sure word of God our knowledge is certain.2 Concerning the emotional aspect, faith
draws us to Christ and we feel he meets our need, and we have a lively interest in. Some older writers
consider knowledge and assent as two aspects of the same element of faith. Faith is not merely the intellect
and emotions, but a matter of the will. We trust God and his promises, surrender our guilty souls, and are
assured in Christ, the source of life.

C. Object ¶2
Specifically we trust Christ and generally receive the whole counsel of God.
Accepting, receiving, and resting on Jesus Christ alone as our Saviour is the specific object of faith (fides
specialis). More generally (fides generalis) everything revealed in the Word 3 is the object of faith 4.

1 Berkhof, Manual of Reformed Doctrine, p 249


2 Berkhof, Sytematic Theology, p 504: The knowledge of faith is mediated for, and imparted to, us by the testimony of God in His Word,
and is accepted by us as certain and reliable on the veracity of God. The certainty of this knowledge has its warrant in God Himself, and
consequently nothing can be more certain.’
3 Berkhof notes ‘or can be deduced from [Scripture] by good and necessary inference’ Ibid. p 506
4 A.A. Hodge notes ‘The whole Word of God, therefore, as far as known to be individual, to the exclusion of all traditions, doctrines of

men, or pretended private revelation is the object of saving faith. Commentary on the Confession of Faith, Chapter 14

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Cor, 7.10
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb. 11.1

D. Why Faith is Victorious


Blessed Assurance, Christ the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
Although faith may be weak or strong and assailed by foes, yet he who began a good work in us will see it to
completion (Phil 1.6). Further discussion of this point is expanded by chapter 18 ‘Assurance of Grace and
Salvation’.

Now we come to a definition of faith, ‘a certain conviction, wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, as to the
truth of the gospel, and a hearty reliance (trust) on the promises of God in Christ’5 and are moved to poetry,
‘Faith is mystical and noetic, receptive and spontaneous, passive and active, the opposite of all works and
itself the work of God par excellence, the means of justification and the principle of sanctification,
accompanying us throughout our lives and changing into sight only at death.’6

V. Of Repentance to Unto Life (Chapter 15)


From faith springs repentance which also follows from regeneration.
True repentance is to be distinguished from false repentance which produces sorrow and guilt but does not
point to Christ as satisfaction from sin. E.g., Judas Iscariot.

A. Grace ¶1
The grace of the Holy Spirit in regeneration enables one to repent.
Like faith, repentance is also of grace and is to be preached following the example of the Apostles.

B. Aspects ¶¶1–2
Parallel to faith, we’ve met these ‘-tions’ before.
The three aspects distinguished in faith are the same in repentance: the intellect, the affections, and the will.
We must know the vileness of sin and our helplessness, sense sorrow and revulsion for sin as against God.
Furthermore, repentance consists of a turning from sin to seek pardon and cleansing in Christ.

C. Not Satisfactory but Necessary ¶3


Repentance does not satisfy our debt but we cannot be pardoned without it.
The justice of God demands punishment for every sin, which the punishment for the sins of the elect was
laid upon Christ Jesus. But repentance flows from grace and we cannot separate aspects of salvation from
each other. Giving pardon to an unrepentant sinner would sanction and encourage sin.7

D. Assurance ¶4
Amen, the grace of God exhausts and overcomes our sin.

E. Confession ¶¶5-6
Rome has nothing on the Reformed doctrine of confession.
‘No man has any right to presume that he hates sin in general unless he practically hates every sin in
particular; and no man has any right to presume that he is sorry for and ready to renounce his own sins in
general unless he is conscious of practically renouncing and grieving for each particular sin into which he
falls.’8 Cp 1 Jn 1.9. We’re to confess our sin to God who alone can forgive, and consider not only individual
sin but the darkness of our hearts. 9 Sins injuring our brother our Church should be confessed to the offended.
In our struggle with sin we may seek help of godly men to help us in our walk.10

5 Berkhof, Sys Theo p 503


6 Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol 4 p 122
7 Hodge, Comm. Conf, Chapter 15
8 Ibid.
9 Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.iv.18
10 H Bullinger, Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter 14

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Cor, 7.10
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb. 11.1

VI. Conversion
Conversion follows from regeneration and occurs but once but faith and repentance are for the whole life.
In the adult conversion seems to immediately follow upon the heels of regeneration, but in the child raised
in a godly home, if the child is regenerate when young (Cp. Jeremiah or John the Baptizer) conversion can
follow a time after regeneration, and may not be as pronounced/visible as the conversion of a pagan. Faith
and repentance start in conversion but are exercised by the Christian throughout his whole life. ‘When our
Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of
repentance.’11 Which leads us to:

VII. Errors
Placed here so if we don’t get to it in class we at least the correct understanding was taught.

A. Rome
Including the obligatory mediæval jest.
The Fourth Lateran council (1215) declared, ‘All faithful persons of both sexes, after they have reached an
age of discretion, ought faithfully to confess all of their own sins, at least once a year, to their own
priest.’ (The Schoolmen jested it was best to construe ‘persons of both sexes’ as distributive and not
conjunctive.) The full sacrament of penance included: contrition (or failing that, attrition), confession in full
to a priest, absolution from the priest on condition of satisfaction of penitent. (Concerning satisfaction, Jesus
paid for the eternal but not temporal punishment of sin) Indulgences substituted for the condition of
satisfaction, but repentance (contrition or attrition) was still necessary. This was not always communicated to
the laity. In the thirteenth century, the effect of indulgences was extended to the departed in purgatory. The
Reformers decries this as externalizing repentance and as filthy lucre.12

B. Anabaptists and Methodists


Adventures in shallow waters
Both groups have repentance for only a time, not considering the full depths of sin. Some Anabaptists had a
person under conviction of sin be without the church for a period of repentance, after which they were
admitted. Methodists teach a second conversion, after which there is no need for repentance.

C. Pelagius and the Arminians


Putting the cart before the horse.
These groups make regeneration follow upon the activity of man in faith and repentance.

D. Liberal Theology
Faith in faith.
Schleiermacher held faith is rooted in a feeling of the Divine, or a harmony of the Infinite, the Whole of
Things. Faith is not ‘heaven-wrought’ but a human achievement. It has lost the object of the saving work and
person of Christ, and that he gives us through the Spirit the ability to believe.

E. Neo-Orthodoxy
An ahistorical faith.
Barth seemed to divorce the person from the work of Christ, holding that faith is God-created response of
man to the divine command or application of redemption.

11 Luther, 95 Theses, Thesis 1


12 Bavinck, Ref. Dog., pp 142 ff

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Cor, 7.10
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb. 11.1

Bibliography
Perhaps the best part of this paper not only because you can read better writers but it signifies the end of my
writing.

Bavinck, Herman, Gereformeerde Dogmatiek (1904) trans. Vriend, John; Reformed Dogmatics (2008) Baker
Academic
Berkhof, Louis, Manual of Reformed Doctrine (1933) Eerdmans Publishing
—— Systematic Theology (1949, 2005) Banner of Truth
Bullinger, Heinrich, Confessio Helvetica Posterior trans. Second Helvetic Confession (1564) Public Domain
Calvin, Jean, Institutio Christianae Religionis (1509) trans. Battles, Ford Lewis; Institutes of the Christian
Religion, (1960) Westminster John Knox Pres
Hodge, A.A., Commentary on the Confession of Faith, Public Domain
Williamson, G.I., The Westminster Confession for Study Classes, (1964) Presbyterian and Reformed

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Cor, 7.10