Belgic Confession, Article 22: Faith Seeking Nothing More Besides Christ
by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor in Limerick, Ireland (for the Covenant PRC of Ballymena, N.Ireland)
Galatians 2:20: “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.”
Faith is not common to all men. Often we hear that all men have faith—that faith is simply trust in something. Thus people say that when you sit on a chair you exercise “faith” in the chair that it will not collapse under you. But that is not faith. That is a weighing up of probabilities. You assume that the chair was built to sustain your weight; no one has broken the chair before you; you have no reason to think that the chair will break now.
When we say that we believe in Jesus Christ we mean much more than that. Faith confidently and with full assurance seeks all good things from Jesus Christ. That is because we know Jesus Christ. Therefore, when our faith in Jesus Christ brings us hardship—and it will—we do not cast away our confidence. Faith is childlike trust. Why does a child trust his father? Because he knows his father—he knows his father’s character, and he knows his father’s love. This knowledge gives the child confidence in the presence of his father. The same child behaves differently around strangers, because he does not know strangers. As Jesus said about His sheep who know Him as Shepherd, “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:5).
The New Testament teaches that faith is confidence by means of two prepositions—small words which indicate position or movement. First, the New Testament speaks about believing into Jesus Christ; second, the New Testament teaches that we live out of Christ and that we are justified by (lit., “out of”) faith. These expressions teach us that the source of life for the believer is Jesus Christ, and that by believing he partakes of the benefits of Jesus Christ. These expressions also strengthen our conviction that faith is a bond which unites us to Jesus Christ and out of which we live.
Moreover, the believer has faith exclusively in Jesus Christ. He does not believe in other saviours, and he does not divide his allegiance between saviours. If all things necessary for salvation were not found in Christ, Christ would be but “half a Saviour.” Of course, the Belgic Confession, a Reformation creed, has Roman Catholicism in mind—Rome taught (and still teaches) that the saints, especially Mary, contributed to salvation. But we must not forget the error of self-salvation—the error that we can contribute something to our salvation in the form of good works.
The answer to all self-salvation is the sufficiency of Christ. Remember the Vine and the branches. The branches receive the sap from the Vine through the graft. The branches do not suck the sap from the Vine and from some other plant at the same time. . For the branches there is no other source of life. If the branch ever becomes separated from the Vine—which, of course, could never happen— it will die. The same is true for us. We live out of Jesus Christ, not out of ourselves, nor out of Jesus Christ and someone else. “Without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Let us seek all things in Jesus Christ alone, by faith alone.
Rev. Martyn McGeown (Larisa)
Pastorates: Missionary-pastor in Limerick, Ireland for the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Northern Ireland - 2010; Providence PRC (Hudsonville, MI), Sept. 2021Website: www.prca.org/current/news/churches/usa-canada/providence-prc-hudsonville-mi
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