“Just have faith!” they tell us.
What do you think happens when you believe in Jesus?
Some will tell you that if you really had faith all your prayers would be answered just the way you want.
Others will say the key thing is that faith brings justification — it is the one way to receive forgiveness.
Still others will say it simply brings comfort in the troubles of life: trust God and you know he’ll walk with you all the way through the valley of the shadow of death.
I’ve posted on Heidelberg’s emphasis on faith as trust in God’s faithful promises.
I’ve also posted on Heidelberg’s other emphasis on faith as believing that the Bible’s teachings are true, especially as those teachings are summarized in the Apostles’ Creed.
Just before the Catechism mentions those two things, it slips in a reference to faith’s greatest benefit: It connects us to Jesus Christ. Question 20 refers to those
“…who through true faith are grafted into Christ…”
The footnotes show the writers were thinking of Romans 11:17 and 19 here. They might well have also thought of John 15 where Christ is the vine and we are the branches.
Grafting is an intimate connection. A branch that grew on one plant is carefully inserted into a different plant. Forever after, that branch draws its life from the new plant. It grows there. It bears its fruit there. It becomes a living part of that plant.
The Catechism takes this image very seriously — and it connects it to faith. Faith, taking God at his word and trusting that God’s promise in Christ applies to us, draws us so close to Jesus that we are ever after connected to him. We draw our life from him. We bear fruit because of that life. The connection is so strong and so permanent that, in another New Testament image, we are considered part of his Body.
This passing reference to the great gift of faith comes in a context many today will find awkward. Here is the question in full.
20 Q. Are all people then saved through Christ just as they were lost through Adam?
A. No. Only those are saved who through true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his benefits.
This question of whether salvation is universal or not is better left to another day. But maybe focusing on the way faith grafts us into the very life of Jesus can give us some new perspective on that too.
Instead of asking about whether all or only some are saved through Jesus, focus on the clear and helpful thing here: Only those who have faith in Jesus find themselves joined to Jesus.
And, when you think about it, that connection to Jesus is salvation.
What do you think is the best thing that faith brings to your life?
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