I have been reading through the historic Belgic Confession (16th c.) recently (as suggested by my wife, Kristy), and wow, it is gold! For example, Article XXII, makes a helpful distinction between being saved by faith as a meritorious work versus being saved through faith as an instrument. Here is how it reads:
“Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith apart from works. However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our righteousness. But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all His merits, and so many holy works which He has done for us and in our stead, is our righteousness. And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with Him in all His benefits, which, when they become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.”
So, we are not saved by our faith, as if it is our faith that is redemptive. We are saved by Jesus and receive the benefits of his life, death and resurrection through the means of faith, and faith alone. So when my faith is weak, my salvation is still strong.
Be prepared to read a lot more from this great Confession, in addition to some good stuff from the Canons of Dort. 🙂