Thursday, October 4, 2012

faith, a moral choice

"[The gospel] assumes nothing on his part other than that he is a sinner who needs reconciliation and peace and salvation. And it promises and gives these to him by way of faith and repentance. In both respects the gospel answers to the most perfect and beautiful idea of religion we can form for ourselves. For on the one hand it is nothing but the good news of grace and salvation. It doesn't pose a single demand—not of age or generation, of race or language, of class or wealth. It poses no conditions, it asks nothing, it demands nothing, it is no law but the opposite of all law. It is broadly human and completely universal, because it presupposes nothing but what is common to all men, namely, the need to be freed from the misery of sin. In accordance with this, on the other hand, the gospel con­fronts man with nothing but a moral choice, the choice to accept the gift of God's grace in faith or to spurn it in hardness of heart... 

"The choice for or against the gospel involves a moral decision because the promises embraced in the gospel exclude all compulsion. No one is made to believe against his will. Faith is a function of understanding that has been moved to acknowledge the truth of the gospel by the will. The whole man is therefore involved in believing—with his reason, with his will, with his heart, in the core of his being, in the deepest part of his existence. Knowing himself to be guilty and lost, man, in faith, surrenders himself wholly to God's grace in Christ. He ceases fighting the war he has long been waging in his conscience against the witness of the Holy Spirit. He leads all his thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. As we said earlier, what is at issue in religion is always the highest interest, the highest good man recognizes for himself, for his own life, for the preservation of his soul. The Christian religion teaches us that the highest good for man is found in God alone, in fellowship with Him, in heavenly salvation. Faith is a thoroughly personal matter, a retying of the bonds that tie the soul to God, a renunciation of all creaturely things to place all one's trust in God, whether in life or death. Faith is an inattention to the things one sees in order to take into account those that are invisible but yet eternal and imperishable."

--Herman Bavinck, from The Certainty of Faith. 

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