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shelter-seeking trust

Herman Bavinck on the relationship between faith and assurance (or certainty, as truth relates to us)...


"Faith is certainty and as such excludes all doubt. Whoever is stricken by guilt and crushed and honestly seeks refuge in Christ is already a believer. To the degree that he exercises a shelter-seeking trust he also possesses an assured trust.  How else would a sinner convicted of his own guilt ever dare to approach God and evoke His grace unless in the depth of his heart, without being consciously aware of it himself, he shared in the certainty of faith and the hope that the Father of Jesus Christ is merciful and great in loving kindness? ...

"The assured trust is thereby included in this shelter-seeking trust. And both develop together. The stronger the shelter- seeking trust becomes, the stronger becomes the assured trust.  And if the latter is small and weak, we may confidently conclude that the first too is needy and incomplete. Faith, therefore, does not attain certainty regarding itself through logical reasoning nor through constantly examining itself and reflecting on its own nature. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason hardly helps to establish our certainty. But certainty flows to us immediately and directly out of faith itself. Certainty is an essential characteristic of faith; it is inseparable from it and belongs to its nature. ...

"Just as the Israelites in the desert were healed not when they looked into themselves but when they looked up at the raised snake, so the believer becomes sure of his salvation when he expects it not from his faith but through faith from God's grace.  ...

"It doesn't rest on human reasoning, but on the Word, the promises of God, the gospel, which poses no conditions but only proclaims that everything has been accomplished. All we have to do is enter into that accomplished work and rest in it for eternity.  ... 

"The priests or the guardians of the spiritual life only granted believers the right and the freedom of spirit to believe as the end product, the fruit of a series of good works or genuine inner experiences. Faith was separated from its object—the grace of God in Christ—by a long list of activities, and it was duty-bound to constant examination of and reflection on its own development. Seeking in vain within itself and in the tossing waves of experience that which it could only find outside of itself in Christ, faith lost its certainty. By its very nature and essence faith can find rest in nothing but a word from God, a promise from the Lord. Any other ground makes it shaky, because it is human and therefore shifting and unreliable. Only a word from God can give life to our souls and provide an immovable foundation for the building of our hope. When all human things obtruding between God's grace and our faith are eliminated, and when our faith fastens on God's promises directly and immediately, then faith will be certain and unshakable."

--Herman Bavinck, The Certainty of Faith

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