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by Dr. John Thomas
This appears from the fact that the gospel was preached to him at Haran; and it was not until the occasion of the confirmation of the covenant at Hebron, that the Lord vouchsafed him an acquittal from all his past sins; which is implied in the testimony that "he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness".
This fact ought to teach the reader, that it is not at the instant a man believes that he is justified.
A man may believe the truth for many years, and yet not be the subject of the righteousness of God.
If so, it may then be asked, "When, or at what point of time, and how, is a man's faith in the truth counted to him for remission of sins?
" As to the manner of its imputation, this must necessarily differ from the case of Abraham.
The angel of the Lord announced to Abraham his justification by word of mouth; but under the present arrangement of things, this is not to be expected.
The angel sent to Cornelius did not pronounce his justification; but simply put him in the way of attaining it.
I trust the reader has not forgotten the use of the key in his case.
The scriptures say that through Jesus is now preached the remission of sins to those who believe the gospel of the kingdom; and that justification by faith is through his Name.
That is, God has appointed an institution through which remission of sins is communicated to believers of the things of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus: so that instead of sending an angel to announce to each individual that his faith is counted to him for righteousness, as in the case of Abraham, He has caused a general proclamation to be made, that "through Christ's name" believers may obtain the remission of sins.
Now, there is but one way for a believer of the gospel to get at this name, to wit, by being "baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit".
The answer to the question, then, is this, that a man's faith in the gospel is counted to him for righteousness in the act of being baptized into the name.
There is no other way than this, and even a believer of the truth will die in his sins unless he submit to it.
The "articles," then, of Abraham's faith were these -- That God would multiply his descendants as the stars of heaven for multitude, and make them a great and mighty nation; That at that time his own name would be great; That out of his posterity should arise One, in whom and in himself all the nations of the earth should be blessed; That he together with this personage should have actual possession of the land of Canaan for ever; That they two, with all his adopted seed, should possess the world; That the seed, or Christ, would be an only begotten and beloved son, even the seed of the woman only, and therefore of God; that he would fall a victim to his enemies; and in his death be accepted as an offering by being raised from the dead, after the example in the case of Isaac; That after resurrection, or at "a second time," Christ would possess the gate of his enemies in triumph, and obtain the land of Canaan, and the dominion of the world according to the promise; and, That, at that time, he and his adopted seed, would be made perfect, receive the promises, and "enter into the joy of their Lord".
Such was the faith of Abraham in outline and such must be the faith of all who would inherit with him.
In conclusion, I would direct the reader's attention to the fact, that Abraham was the subject of a twofold justification, as it were; first, of a justification by faith; and secondly, of a justification by works.
Paul says, he was justified by faith; and James, that he was "justified by works".
They are both right.
As a sinner he was justified from his past sins when his faith was counted to him for righteousness; and as a saint, he was justified by works when he offered up Isaac.
Of his justification as a saint James writes, "Abraham our father was justified by works, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar.
Faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.
And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith alone".