"The first step along the way of life, ... , is belief of the things that God has promised. This is enjoined by Jesus when he gave his last commission to the apostles: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved but he that believeth not shall be condemned " (Mark 16:15, 16). "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:18-20). When men are so "taught" by the word of God, they manifest faith in the things He has promised. Without this faith men are not well pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6). In support of their teaching the Apostles turn to the Old Testament to find in Abraham an outstanding illustration of the way to secure God's approval. "Abraham believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6). The whole of the fourth chapter of Romans is devoted to unfolding the implication of this statement; and at the end of the chapter Paul declares that it was "not written for Abraham's sake alone, but for us also, to whom righteousness shall be imputed, if we believe on God" (Rom. 4:23, 24). "The gospel is the power of God unto salvation", but it is ineffective unless it is believed; so Paul adds "to everyone that believeth" (Rom. 1:16)
In Acts, Chapter 10, we read of a centurion, Cornelius, described as a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, devoted to almsgiving and to prayer, who was told by the angel of God to send men to Joppa for Peter: "he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do" (Acts 10:6). As we think of the exemplary character of the man, judged by human standards, we might wonder what he lacked to be approved of God. His devoutness and goodness in themselves were evidently not sufficient. The phrase, "What thou oughtest to do", has the authoritative ring of a divine imperative. With the angel's assurance that he "shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (11:14). Cornelius accordingly sent for Peter. When Peter arrived, Cornelius informed him: "We are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God" (10:33). Peter then recounted the work of Jesus, showed that it was witnessed by the writings of the goodness and declared that "whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins" (verse 43).
When a person "believes" or has "faith" in the Bible sense, he is fully persuaded of the truth of those things which are taught in the Scriptures. Belief is based on knowledge -- in the absence of knowledge there is no true faith: and Paul makes the emphatic declaration, truly reasonable when all the facts are considered, that without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6). To believe He is "a rewarder" presupposes an understanding of those "exceeding great and precious promises by which we might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4). "Ye are saved by grace through faith" (Eph. 2:8); for, in the words of both Old and New Testaments, "the just shall live by faith"."
- John Carter
The Way of Life
Part I - God's Conditions
Dutch translation / Nederlandse vertaling > Overtuiging voor de dingen die God beloofde