Today we continue our readings in John Murray’s classic book Redemption Accomplished and Applied. We are in the second section of the book which deals with the application of the atonement to God’s elect. We’ve looked at effectual calling and regeneration and turn now to faith and repentance.
Regeneration, which we looked at last week, is inseparable from its effects, one of which is faith. “Without regeneration,” says Murray, “it is morally and spiritually impossible for a person to believe in Christ, but when a person is regenerated it is morally and spiritually impossible for that person not to believe.” Regeneration is God’s renewing of the heart and mind and, once renewed, the heart and mind must act in accordance with their new nature.
Looking first to faith Murray examines both the warrant and nature of faith which he defines as “a whole-souled movement of self-commitment to Christ for salvation from sin and its consequences.”
He offers two facts which together constitute the warrant of faith. The first of these is the universal offer of the gospel. This charge is “invested with the authority and majesty of his sovereignty as Lord of all. The sovereign imperative of God is brought to bear upon the overture of grace. And that is the end of all contention.” The second is the all-sufficiency and suitability of the Savior presented. On the basis of his person and work, Christ is the suitable and sufficient Savior. Murray pauses to point out some crucial correctives about the faith he is discussing. “The faith of which we are now speaking is not the belief that we have been saved but trust in Christ in order that we may be saved. … It is not as persons convinced of our election nor as persons convinced that we are the special objects of God’s love that we commit ourselves to him but as lost sinners. We entrust ourselves to him not because we believe we have been saved but as lost sinners in order that we may be saved.”
He turns next to the nature of the gospel, pointing out that there are three things that need to be said about faith: that it is knowledge, conviction and trust. Faith cannot be a vacuum of knowledge (as many try to present it). Instead, there must be a certain knowledge of facts. But, of course, facts are not enough; there must also be conviction about these facts. And third, there must be trust. “Faith cannot stop short of self-commitment to Christ, a transference of reliance upon ourselves and all human resources to reliance upon Christ alone for salvation.” He says also, “Faith … is not belief of propositions of truth respecting the Savior, however essential an ingredient of faith such belief is. Faith is trust in a person, the person of Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the lost. It is entrustment of ourselves to him. It is not simply believing him; it is believing in him and on him.”
Murray turns next to repentance. He shows that there is no real priority in order between faith and repentance for “the faith that is unto salvation is a penitent faith and the repentance that is unto life is a believing repentance.” The essence of repentance is a change of heart and mind and will. This change principally respects four things: “a change of mind respecting God, respecting ourselves, respecting sin, and respecting righteousness.” It is a radical change that strikes to the very core of who we are and what we believe about all of life. “The test of repentance,” says Murray, “is the genuineness and resoluteness of our repentance in respect of our own sins, sins characterized by the aggravations which are peculiar to our own selves.” He concludes this section with pointing the reader to the cross: “It is at the cross of Christ that repentance has its beginning; it is at the cross of Christ that it must continue to pour out its heart in the tears of confession and contrition. The way of sanctification is the way of contrition for the sin of the past and of the present. The Lord forgives our sins and forgiveness is sealed by the light of his countenance, but we do not forgive ourselves.”
For next Thursday please read the next chapter—“Justification.”
The purpose of this program is to read classics together. So if there are things that stood out to you in this chapter, if there are questions you had, this is the time and place to have your say. Feel free to post a comment below or to link to your blog if you’ve chosen to write about this on your own site.