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world-conquering faith

"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"  (1 John 5:4-5 ESV)

I finished reading Bavinck on the Christian Life, by John Bolt (Crossway, 2015).   The excerpt below is from a sermon given by Dr. Bavinck in Kampen (the Netherlands) on June 30, 1901.   It is the concluding chapter in Bolt's excellent book.  The excerpt below comes after Bavinck reviews the victorious faith of believers down through biblical history.  He asserts that this faith is not merely psychological faith, nor faith in general, but a specific faith...   

"Acknowledge this history therefore as witness to the world-conquering power of faith!  But history does not bear this kind of testimony to every kind of faith -- not to the faith that is only a psychological phenomenon without reference to its object, its origin, its essence.  For there are many kinds of faith.  There is a faith that proceeds only from within a person, that belongs to the world, that bends the knee to an idol, that is nothing more than unbelief or superstition.  Such a faith does not fight or conquer the world, but supports and establishes it.  John, the apostle of the Lord, ascribes world-conquering power only to that faith that he shares with his brothers and sisters, the faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Only this specific faith, this well-defined faith alone, is capable of victory.  For this faith believes that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ.  Jesus -- that is to say: that historical person, that man born of a woman who lived nineteen centuries ago in Palestine; who was like us in every way, sin excepted; who traveled through the land preaching, doing good, healing all kinds of diseases among the people; who gave his life on the shameful and scandalous cross.  Such faith believes that this Jesus, who, when he came among us, would not be recognized by anyone using only the human eye as anything more than a man, that this Jesus, who had no form or comeliness that we should desire him, notwithstanding all this is the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, truly human according to the flesh, but nonetheless true God, to be praised beyond all else for eternity.  Such faith believes that this Jesus is the Christ -- and neither our virtues nor our good works, neither art nor science, neither any state nor potentate, nor any creature in heaven or on earth, but he and he alone is the Christ -- the Lord's Servant, God's Anointed, the Atonement for sins, the Redeemer of the world, our highest Prophet, our only High Priest, our eternal King."

~ Herman Bavinck, "The World-Conquering Power of Faith" (1901)

Photo below: Burgwalkerk at Kampen, Netherlands


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