but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 1 Corinthians 1:23
Simple assent to the truth of the Word is but an act of the understanding. Reprobates and devils may exercise this, but justifying faith takes its seat both in the understanding and the will. The promises of God call for an act of the will to embrace and receive it. Therefore, he who only notionally knows the promise, and speculatively assents to the truth of it, without clinging to it, and embracing it, does not believe to the saving of the soul. Justifying faith rests on Christ crucified for pardon and life upon the warrant of God’s promise and terminates upon him. It is not Christ in his personal excellencies, but as bleeding, and that to death, under the hand of divine justice to make an atonement by God’s own appointment for the sins of the world. Faith finds that Christ has made full payment to the justice of God having poured out his blood to death upon the cross. All of his previous acts of humiliation were but preparatory to this. He was born to die; he was sent into the world as a lamb bound with the bonds of an irreversible decree as a sacrifice. Without this, all he had done would have been labour undone. There is no redemption but by his blood. Christ did not redeem and save poor souls by sitting in majesty on his heavenly throne, but by hanging on the shameful cross, under the tormenting hand of man’s fury and God’s just wrath. And therefore, the poor soul that would have pardon of sin, is directed to place its faith not only on Christ, but on a bleeding Christ, whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood (Rom. 3:25). Not everyone who assents to the truth of what the Scripture says about Christ truly believes. No, believing implies a union of the soul to Christ with full trust and reliance.