Question 10 How do we in and by them build up ourselves in our most holy faith?

Answer — By the exercise of that communion with God in Christ Jesus which, in their due observation, he graciously invites and admits us unto, for the increase of his grace in us, and the testification of his love and good- will towards us.

Gen. 17:10; Lev.26:11,12; Prov. 9:5,6; Ezek. 36:27,28; Zech. 14:16,17; Matt. 26:27,28; Rom. 6:3.

Explication — The next and principal ends of all instituted worship, in respect of believers, are, the increase of the grace of God in them, their edification in their most holy faith, and the testification of the good- will of God unto them: Eph. 4:11-16, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

Whence, also, is that prayer of the apostle for the blessing of God upon the church, in the use of them: Eph. 3:16-19, “that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

For these ends, and with a design to have them accomplished in and upon their souls, ought they to attend unto them: James 1:21, “Receive with meeknes the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” 1 Pet. 2:2, “As new- born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

Unto the effecting of these ends, especially the increase and establishment of our faith, are they suited and appointed of God; whereon all there efficacy doth depend.

In their due observation doth God give out that supply of grace which he hath promised, Eph. 3:16-19.

And thus also is faith exercised in an especial manner; which is the only ordinary means of its growth and increase. Habits, both acquired and infused, are increased and strengthened by frequent acts on suitable objects: Hos. 4:3, “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD.”

In the celebration of gospel ordinances, God in Christ proposeth himself in an intimate manner to the believing soul as his God and reward; and his love in Christ, in an especial manner, in some ordinances. So doth Christ also exhibit himself thereunto: Rev. 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

Faith, therefore, directed by the word to rest in God, to receive the Lord Christ in the observation of his ordinances, is excited, increased, strengthened, and that in answer unto the appointment and promises of God.

The Life and Works of John Owen Vol. 15