Mennonite Articles of Faith (1766) - Article 18
XVIII. Of Faith by Which We Partake of the Grace of God in Christ.
We hold that it is not enough to have simply a historical knowledge of the truth (Romans 2:17-24), or to assent to it, or even to be able to talk eloquently and beautifully about it (1 Corinthians 4:20); more particularly that true faith does not consist in a self-assumed favorable position (John 8:32, 33; Matthew 3:9; Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6-8) and assurance (Matthew 7:21, 22; 15:13; John 3:27), for this may all be found apart from the heart-renewing and cleansing power (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Acts 15:9), apart from true love (2 Thessalonians 2:10) and good works (Matthew 7:17) without which true faith unto righteousness (Romans 10:10) can not exist. James 2:17; Galatians 5:6.
Saving faith therefore includes both a profound conviction (Hebrews 11:1) and understanding of divine truth, and an appreciation of its sublimity and worth (Matthew 13:44-46. It is thus, viewed in its inception, nothing less than a light from God shining in our souls. 2 Corinthians 4:6. Further, faith may be defined as including a hearty consent (Romans 7:16), approval (Psalms 119:128) and appropriation (Psalms 119:97) of all God's testimonies (Psalms 19: 7) promises (Psalms 119:49, 50) and blessings (Psalms 116: 12), especially the gift of His Son, and all this out of love (1 John 4:8, 19) combined with a deep reverence and sense of unworthiness (Luke 7:6); frequently also with much anxiety and fear so that the joy in the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6), which should otherwise follow without fail, may for a time remain suppressed through the weakness of the faith.
This faith naturally begets a passionate desire to partake by experience of the whole Christ and in consequence of this an humble looking for and to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29; 3:14, 15). In other words, it amounts to fleeing to Christ for refuge (Hebrews 6:18; Matthew 11:28, 29), actually accepting Him in all respects (though in varying degrees as to clearness and power according to the measure of faith) with much crying for mercy (Matthew 9:27), repentance and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31; Matthew 8:2; Psalms 51:1-17) and a participation in all the blessings He has obtained for us. John 1:16; 1 John 5:12.
To this fleeing for refuge in such a frame of mind there belongs a sincere prayer for acceptance (Luke 15:19) an actual self-surrender and unfeigned submission (Isaiah 44:5; Acts 16:30), henceforth not to live unto one's self but unto Him who died for us and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15), the soul being constrained thereto by love, with great desire (2 Corinthians 5:9, 14) and joy. Proverbs 21:15.
In all this, faith acts and is sustained (Hebrews 11:33-38) by a deeply felt trust in God (Romans 4:3), holding Him to be faithful that promised (Romans 10:23) and that having not spared His own Son, He will with Him freely give us all things (Romans 8:32; Hebrews 4:16), which trust is fully answered by His actual dealings in His own time.
This true faith we recognize as a gift of God (Philippians 1:29; Ephesians 2:8) wrought in us (Philippians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:11) through His Word (Romans 10:17) and by His Spirit (Acts 16:14; Luke 24:45; John 16:8, 15) out of free grace, yet so that in order to its proper reception it is necessary that we give an attentive ear to what the Lord says (Isa. 55:3-7) and do not harden our hearts against it (Proverbs 1:23-33; 28:13, 14; Hebrews 3:7, 8) but give room to the power of conviction and yield to it (Mark 4:23-25); for in them that draw back the Lord has no pleasure. Hebrews 10:38; 3:18, 19.
By this faith one becomes a child of God (Galatians 3:26), overcomes the world (1 John 5:4), and is fortified against the crafty attacks of the devil (Ephesians 6:16); but without it, it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6. As faith is the ordained means of becoming a partaker of the grace of God in Christ, so it is also the means of abiding in Christ, of holding fast to Him, of becoming more intimately united with Him, and of drawing from Him, as the head of the body or as the true vine, all spiritual life power and thus walk worthy of God who has called us unto His kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:12.
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