True justifying faith will always be accompanied with good works, or fruit which comes from it. There is a natural change to the being as the image of God is restored that moves the justified to seek to be sanctified. However, we are never to confuse the graces which are born out of faith for faith itself. For it neither creates nor sustains it. That alone is the gift and grant of Christ always by free grace.
As noted last week we are back at it in our Larger Catechism lesson with another look at the doctrine of justification. Whereas we were more in the ordo part of the conversation today we are going to be thinking on the historia portion. When it comes to the way justification “happens” in real life to the sinner what measures of application and preparation are involved? We’ve talked before how the preaching of the gospel is the means by which men and women come to faith and what we will discover is that this coming to a knowledge of the truth is unsurprisingly moved in the treatment of the soul through the righteousness of Christ by the Holy Spirit. We are a Trinitarian people and it is important for us to always give proper due to every member of the Trinity when it comes to the big, and small, things that are done for us in being made right in the eyes of God. So today here are our Q/A’s as we get started:
Q. 72: What is justifying faith?
A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receives and rests upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.
Q. 73: How does faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receives and applies Christ and his righteousness.
As a special gift of God we receive this justifying faith through the regenerating work of the Spirit in applying to us the righteousness purchased by Christ. (Titus 3:5). In this renewal we then respond by hearing in the depths of our souls the offer to come and be welcome in the bosom of our Savior.