Q 20. Are all people then saved through Christ just as they were lost through Adam?
A 20. No. Only those are saved who through true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his benefits.
Q 21. What is true faith?
A 21. True faith is not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true all that God has revealed to us in Scripture; it is also a wholehearted trust, which the Holy Spirit creates in me by the gospel, that God has freely granted, not only to others but to me also, forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and salvation. These are gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merit.
Q 22. What then must a Christian believe?
A 22. All that is promised us in the gospel, a summary of which is taught us in the articles of our universal and undisputed Christian faith.
Q 23. What are these articles?
A 23. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Salvation history can be boiled down to the actions of two men: Adam and Jesus. Adam, the first human, as a representative of the whole human race, sinned against God by disobeying Him. In doing so, Adam plunged all humankind and the whole of creation into sin and misery. Humans were cut off from our relationship with God and left with the total inability to repair that relationship on their own.
Jesus, whom Scripture calls the “second Adam,” also represented all humankind. Through His life, death, and resurrection, He purchased redemption for humanity, through His blood, making it once again possible to live in relationship with God. This too has the potential to impact all mankind. However, unlike the actions of Adam, which had an instant effect on all humans from that time forward, the offer of salvation in Jesus Christ must be accepted by faith for salvation to be realized. God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ is universal, extending to every man, woman, and child that ever lived, but the efficacy (the effect or intended result) is only realized when someone places their faith in Jesus Christ.
So naturally, the next question is: “what is faith?” Question and Answer 21 take on this question and it can be boiled down, as author Kevin DeYoung points out, to two things, ‘knowledge and conviction.’ He goes on to stay, we don’t worship a ‘content-less’ Jesus and as such, knowledge is an important component. Sadly it often feels like knowledge has been the only thing that we focus on, suggesting that we could possibly “know” our way into salvation, something that spills over into works-righteousness.
Faith also comes with and through a deep conviction. It is a confident (not arrogant) assurance of our eternal salvation. Faith is, as the author of Hebrews writes, “the assurance of things hoped for and the certainty of things unseen.” When we believe the Gospel, we put our faith in Jesus Christ, knowing and being assured that He accomplished for us what we were otherwise unable to do. He purchased redemption for us through His blood and the sacrifice of Himself that He offered once and for all on the cross that, when we believe in Him, we would be accepted by God and never forsaken by Him.