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by Dr. John Thomas
When the saints are all gathered into the kingdom, they will not find themselves in an unexpected situation.
They will all be there by virtue of believing the same things; though some, contemporary with the later history of the world, will have had the advantage of more abounding testimony.
Their sins will have been covered upon the same principle -- by the raiment of righteousness derived from the sacrifice, by faith in whose blood they had been cleansed.
There is no true religion without faith; nor any true faith without the belief of the truth.
Now, although a scriptural faith is the scarcest thing among men, it is exceedingly simple, and by no means difficult to acquire, when it is sought for aright.
Paul gives the best definition of faith extant.
He says, "Faith is a confident anticipation (uJpovstasi") of things hoped for, a full persuasion (e[legco") of things not seen".
This is the faith without which, he tells us afterwards, God is not, and cannot by any possibility be, pleased.
It is a faith which lays hold of the past and the future.
The person who possesses it knows what is testified concerning Jesus by the apostles, and is fully persuaded of its truth; he also knows the exceeding great and precious promises which God has made concerning things to come, and he confidently anticipates the literal fulfilment of them.
Laying hold of these things with a firm faith, he acquires a mode of thinking and a disposition which are estimable in the sight of God; and being like Abraham in these particulars, he is prepared, by induction into Christ, to become a son of the father of the faithful, and of the friend of God.
This faith comes by studying the scriptures; as it is written, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God".
This word contains the "testimony of God".
When this testimony is understood, and allowed to make its own impression in "a good and honest heart," faith establishes itself there.
There is no more mystery in this, than how one man comes to believe another guilty of a crime when he is made acquainted with all the testimony in the case.
The ability to believe lies in a sound understanding, a candid disposition, and knowledge of the testimony of God.
Where there is ignorance of this there can be no faith.
It is as impossible for a man ignorant of God's word to have faith, as it is for a man to believe another guilty of an alleged crime who knows nothing at all about the matter.
But, one may say, there are multitudes who believe in Christ who are very ignorant of the scriptures.
Yes, they believe in Christ as Turks believe in Mohammed.
But this is not the faith defined by Paul.
The mere belief that Jesus is the Son of God is not believing in him.
To believe in him is to believe what God testifies concerning him.