A ‘Two-Fold’ manifestation of Faith.
How do you know you believe? — Questions like these can often shake a person’s Christian faith. Why? Because if you don’t know that you believe, how can you be sure that you actually believe, and are actually saved? But this is confounding confidence of faith with faith itself.
For example, have you ever met someone who was convinced that they believe only to show that they don’t by their life? Or oppositely, have you ever met someone who often despairs of their faith but shows by their life that they actually cling to Christ? Faith, and confidence of faith is not the same thing. A hypocrite may fool himself into thinking he believes (while in truth he doesn’t) and a disciple may despair that he will ever believe (yet will never let go of Christ).
Recently in reading R.F. Weidner’s work on Pneumatology, I came across a rather helpful description of the manifestations of faith. (Highlighting mine):
Pontoppidan (d. 1764) says: “It is necessary to acknowledge a two-fold manifestation of faith. The first is called actio directa, by which we lay hold of and embrace Christ; the other actio reflexa, by which we acknowledge our own doing, and feel or experience that we have apprehended Christ. By the former we believe, to speak accurately, on Christ; by the second, however, we become assured of the fact that we believe and the faith which has laid hold on Christ falls back softly and sweetly into itself. But there are many who have really laid hold on Christ, although they do not feel that they have apprehended Him; and these are none the less justified. For we become incontestably righteous by the actio directa, and not by the actio reflexa: we become justified, not because we feel that we believe, but so far as we only believe.”
And Delitzsch says: “The faith is thus in its essence fiducia supplex (assurance of refuge), not fiducia triumphans seu gloriosa (assurance of experience).
A more common way of expressing the same truth would be, Faith does not say ‘I believe’ but says ‘Christ died for me.’ In other words, faith does not focus on how confident you are that you believe but focuses on the truth of Christ our Refuge.