Geerhardus Vos’ description of the faith of the OT patriarchs – particularly Abraham – is most excellent. I highly recommend (re)reading the entire section, since I only have room to quote a few statements. See pages 83-87 of Vos’ Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000).
“Faith was in Abraham’s life the chief religious act and frame of mind. His whole life was a school of faith in which the divine training developed this grace from step to step. Even at the beginning there was a heavy demand on the patriarch’s faith. He was called upon to leave his own country, kindred, father’s house.”
Abraham’s “faith and a desire for more faith” went hand in hand. “There entered into it a personal factor, viz., the trustworthiness of God, who made the declaration of the promises. Religious belief exists not in its last analysis on what we can prove to be so, but on the fact of God having declared it to be so.” “Faith therefore begins and ends in the trust – rest in God.”
“For this treasure [Gen 15.1 - the reward - God himself] he could cheerfully renounce all other gifts.” By faith, “Abraham…renounced all of his own purely human resources. He expected nothing from himself…he expected everything from the supernatural interposition of God…. This is the reason why the Apostle [Paul] compares Abraham’s faith…to the Christian’s faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This kind of faith is a faith in the creative interposition of God. It trusts in Him for calling the things that are not as though they were…. Abraham learned to possess the promses of God, in the promising God alone. The promises had no change of becoming materialized through detachment from their centre in God. They could only be had and enjoyed as a part and potential outflow of the divine heart itself. For the promises are like an ethereal garment, more precious than the body of the promised thing over which it is thrown.”
“From the earthly, possessed or not-yet-possessed, they [the patriarchs] had learned to look upward to a form of possession of the promise identifying it more closely with God Himself.”
Luther’s sermons are some of the clearest and most profound gospel centered sermons ever written. I know that’s a huge statement, yet I stand behind it. CBD currently has a sale on Baker’s 7 volume set of Luther’s sermons ($35). If you do not own these, you will not be disappointed in them – and you just may agree with my opening statement after reading them. I return to them time and again in my studies and devotional life. Go here to check them out. This is Luther preaching on faith alone:
“Now here is the proper domain of faith, which takes hold of the word from the mouth of the apostle and preacher, and holds fast to the forgiveness won by Christ’s suffering and resurrection, and declared and distributed in the word. That is the foundation of our doctrine: We are justified and saved by faith in Christ alone.”
“The word of forgiveness of sins which was obtained by Christ and placed in the disciples’ mouths can neither be grasped with the hands nor with works, whether fasting, prayer, almsgiving, or whatever works they may be. Faith alone can take hold of this word, and the heart is the only legitimate vessel which may enclose it. Let this, therefore, stand purely and for sure: We must be justified by faith alone.”
Quotes taken from Luther’s Sermons Volume Six, ed. and trans. Eugene F. A. Klug, et. al (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 71.
Calvin comments on Isaiah 53.11:
“…This is the difference between the righteousness of faith and the righteousness of the Law; for, although the Law shews what it is to be righteous, yet Paul affirms that it is impossible that righteousness should be obtained by it, and experience proves the same thing; for the Law is a mirror in which we behold our own unrighteousness….”
“Now, the doctrine which Christ teaches, as to obtaining righteousness, is nothing else than ‘the knowledge of him;’ and this is faith, when we embrace the benefit of his death and fully rely on him” (John Calvin, Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah Vol. III trans. William Pringle [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999], 127).
Here are excerpts from R. Lusk (a current “member” of the Federal Vision) and T. Beza (a second generation Reformer, d. 1605). Read carefully, and note the most important term, instrument (cf. Belgic Confession, 22 or WCF 11.2). I’ve bolded instrument below for ease of reference.
“In other words, works do not justify in their own right since they can never withstand the scrutiny of God’s inspection. But we will not be justified without them either. They are not merely evidential (e.g., proof of our faith), but even causal or instrumental (“means”) in our final salvation.” Go here for the full article and context.
“Faith” is the “the sole instrument by which we take hold of Jesus Christ when He is offered to us, the sole vessel to receive Him.” Further, “When therefore, after St. Paul (Rom 1: 17; 3:21-27; 4:3; 5:1; 9:30-33; 11:6; Gal 2:16-21; 3:9,10,18; Phil 3:9; 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 3:5; Heb. 11:7) we say that we are justified by faith alone, or freely, or by faith without works (for all these ways of speaking give the same sense), we do not say that faith is a virtue which makes us righteous, in ourselves, before God. For this would be to put faith in the place of Jesus Christ who is, alone, our perfect and entire righteousness.” Go here for the full booklet and context.
In summary, Lusk’s understanding of instrument is at odds with Calvin’s successor, T. Beza. Beza says one instrument while Lusk says more than one.