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by Dr. John Thomas
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
… Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith alone".
"Without faith," says Paul, "it is impossible to please God"; and it is also apparent from James' testimony just recited, that the faith with which He is pleased, is a faith that is made manifest by works; of which Noah, Abraham, Job, and Jesus, are pre-eminent examples.
Now, this "precious faith" can only be educed by trial; for the trial elaborates the works.
This is the use of persecution, or tribulation, to believers; which in the divine economy is appointed for their refinement.
Peter styles the "manifold persecutions," to which his brethren were subjected, "the trial of their faith"; and Paul testified to others of them, that "it is through much tribulation they must enter the Kingdom".
Probation is a refining process.
It purges out a man's dross, and brings out the image of Christ in his character; and prepares him for exaltation to his throne.
We can only enter the Kingdom through the fire; but, if a man be courageous, and "hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end," he will emerge from it unscorched; and be presented holy, unblameable, and unrebukeable before the King.
A man cannot "honour God" more than in believing what He promises, and doing what He commands; although to repudiate that belief, and to neglect, or disobey, those commands, should highly gratify all his senses, and place at his disposal the kingdoms of the world, and all their glory.
Not to believe the promises of God is in effect to call God a liar; and no offence, even to men of integrity in the world, is so insulting and intolerable as this.
"Let God be true," saith the scripture.
His veracity must not be impeached in word or deed; if it be, then "judgment without mercy" is the "sorer punishment" which awaits the calumniator.
The unswerving obedience of faith, is the "faith made perfect by works," tried by fire.
God is pleased with this faith, because it honours Him.
It is a working faith.
There is life in it; and its exercise proves that the believer loves Him.
Such a man it is God's delight to honour; and, though like Jesus he be for the present, "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," the time will certainly come, when God will acknowledge him in the presence of the Elohim, and overwhelm his enemies with confusion of face.
Probation before exaltation, then, is upon the principle of a faith in the promises of God, made precious by trial well sustained.
There is no exemption from this ordeal.
Even Christ himself was subjected to it.
"By the grace of God he tasted death for every man.