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New City Catechism 30.2

Question 30: What is faith in Jesus Christ?

Answer: Faith in Jesus Christ is acknowledging the truth of everything that God has revealed in his Word, trusting in him, and also receiving and resting on him alone for salvation as he is offered to us in the gospel.

Saving faith consists of knowledge, assent, and trust. We have already addressed the importance of knowledge, so now we will move on to assent. In order for anyone to be saved by the truth of the gospel, that person obviously must not only know the facts of the gospel story but must also assent to the truth of that story, accepting that it did, in fact, happen and that the promises held out in it to sinners are true promises.

Some liberal Christians assume that faith is a kind of wishful thinking divorced from historical reality. They deny, for example, that Jesus was actually raised from the dead in history, but nevertheless they go on to affirm a kind of “faith” in the resurrection as a meaningful story that illustrates spiritual truth. Did Jesus walk out of the tomb in any kind of historical sense? No, they say. But nevertheless, he continues to live on in his followers’ hearts as we carry on his teachings and ideals, and that is what the resurrection story really means.

This kind of thinking is an utter distortion of Christian truth. It misunderstands the New Testament teaching and the nature of saving faith. Faith requires, not only the knowledge of the gospel story, but also the active assent of the mind to the truth of that story, or else there is no saving faith involved. This is why history matters so much for the Christian faith. Christianity is not a generalized philosophy of life; it is first and foremost an announcement of true historical events carried out by the God who is Lord of this world and of its history.

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-19. What does this passage teach us about the importance of the resurrection? Is there any gospel to speak of at all if Christ was not raised from the dead in history? What are the implications of this passage for you?

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