And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.— James 2:23
Let’s say that being called a believer in God, or a follower of God, or a servant of God is not enough for you. Let’s say that you want to be called, like Abraham, a “friend of God.” What would it take to acquire that appellation? How could you become a friend of God? According to James, Abraham was known as the friend of God for two basic reasons. He not only believed in God and the promises God made to him, but he also acted in accordance with his faith. He had works that flowed from his faith (James 2:22).
Abraham believed God when God told him that he would have an heir from his own body and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens (Genesis 15:4-6). At that point in time Abraham’s prospects for having a child seemed dim. Nevertheless, he believed God’s promise. “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Romans 4:20-21). And as our verse for today makes clear, Abraham’s faith in God made him righteous before God. Abraham was justified by faith.
The reason why Abraham was justified by faith, however, was because his faith was more than mere lip-service to God. It was a living faith. It was the kind of faith that leads to works. This was revealed when God tested his faith later on by asking him to sacrifice his son on an altar (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham raised the knife to slay his son, but God stayed his hand, and Abraham’s faith in God’s promise of an heir and many descendants was completed. He became known as the friend of God (see II Chronicles 20:7 and Isaiah 41:8).
Jesus said this with respect to friendship with him, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). We can see, then, that friendship with Jesus, as well as with God, comes about when we believe in them and follow their commands. After all, what kind of friend to God and to Jesus would we be if we never did what they said?