“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”.
We believe that faith is the gift of God, and we confess that faith is a creation of God, as it is expressed in the Canons of Dort (one of our doctrinal standards), chapter 3 and 4, point 12. We must ask ourselves how we know that faith is the gift of God. We must investigate the origin of our faith. Faith has its origin from God, and it comes into us when the Lord seals the promise (in other words, the Gospel) in our heart. Then we understand the words of John 3:33, “He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.” Therefore, when the Holy Spirit has sealed the Gospel in our heart, we hear God speak to us through the Gospel, and that is how true faith comes into existence in us. In this manner it comes into being and thus it must have come into existence in us; and this confirms the words of Psalm 27:8 and 9: “When thou saidst, seek ye my face” (this is the sealing), “my heart said unto Thee” (the answer which came forth), “Thy face, LORD, will I seek. Hide not Thy face far from me; put not Thy servant away in anger.”
Now a man who has the common working of the Spirit thinks that he is doing all of this and that he has been doing all these things for a long time. He does not understand these things. Nobody understands these things, except when he has first seen that he had never understood them. That is a characteristic of true faith.
Is true faith found in you? Do you know that when man thinks he is at his best, he is at his worst? Did you ever discover that your religion, your spiritual treasures, were not valid, that they are worthless, because Christ was not and is not in them? They were no good since the “root of bitterness”, (Heb. 12:15), was found in your heart. Becoming aware of this means the conviction of sin. This is the start of the beginning, for the beginning has its commencement not on our side; with us there is no beginning, with us there is nothing (1 Cor. 1:28-29).
(From: Meditations, 24 January. Sermon on 2 Corinthians 5:20, 22 March 1928 in Rotterdam.)