Temporary Faith – Abraham Kuyper Quoting Wilhelmus à Brakel

Wholly different from this is the historical faith, which Brakel briefly describes as follows: “Historical faith is thus called because it knows the history, the narrative, the description of the matters of faith in the Word, acknowledges them to be the truth, and then leaves them alone as matters that concern it no more than the histories of the world; for one can not use them in his business, neither does it create any emotion in the soul, not even sufficiently to cause man to make a confession: ‘Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well, the devils also believe and tremble’ (James ii. 19). ‘King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest’ (Acts xxvi. 27).”

Next comes temporary faith, of which Brakel gives the following description: “Temporary faith is a knowledge of and a consent to the truths of the Gospel, acknowledging them as the truth; which causes some natural flutterings in the affections and passions of the soul, a confession of these truths in the Church, and an external walk in conformity with that confession; but without a real union with Christ, to justification, sanctification, and redemption: ‘But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the Word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet, hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended’ (Matt, xiii. 20, 21). ‘For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance’ (Heb. vi. 4, 5). ‘For if, after they have escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning’ (2 Peter ii. 20).”

There is also a faith of miracles, which Brakel describes in these words: “The faith of miracles is a being inwardly persuaded, by an inward working of God, that this or that work shall be wrought, in a supernatural manner, upon our word or command, in ourselves or in others. But the ability to perform miracles is not of man, but of God, by His almighty power, in answer to faith: ‘If ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain. Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you’ (Matt. xvii. 20). ‘And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains’ (1 Cor. xiii. 2). ‘The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked’ (Acts xiv. 9, 10). This faith was found especially in the days of Christ and of the apostles, for the confirmation of the truth of the Gospel.”

These three kinds of faith do in some respects resemble saving faith, but they lack its being. Least of all is the faith to perform miracles, which was found also in Judas. Faith which removes mountains is not justifying faith. Historical faith comes a little nearer, unless, by reason of a slothfulness and indifference, it merely echoes the words of others without accepting their truth, and thus opens the way to Pharisaism. Temporary faith comes nearest, which is indeed wrought by the Holy Spirit, and affords a taste of the heavenly gifts, but which has not root in itself. It is a bouquet of flowers, that for a day adorns the breast of the person who wears it, but which, being cut from its root, is not a plant in him.

– Abraham Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit, pp. 420-21

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