THE FRIEND OF GOD
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23)
How would you like to be God’s friend? I would!
What is true of a friend? A friend is someone you can count on to be true to you, to help you when you are in trouble, to enjoy the same things you do, someone you can trust.
This was true of Abraham. Abraham was sinful flesh like the rest of us. He sold his wife when he thought it would help him. I know God would not approve of that. But Abraham believed God for what was seemingly impossible; and Abraham obeyed God when God asked for his son as a burnt offering. Abraham was not perfect, but he had a heart for God. He loved and trusted God and was obedient to God when he knew what he was supposed to do.
We can think of many men in the Bible who were friends of God, who had hearts for God, who obeyed God. Yet they were not perfect.
- Noah certainly was a friend of God, and God took care of Noah and his family.
- David was a sinful man, but God regarded David as a friend. God was always in David’s mind.
- Job was a friend of God, and repented when he saw he was in the wrong.
- The Apostle Paul was a friend of God, and suffered many things that God’s Word might be spread throughout the world.
- And then there was Mary, who believed and obeyed the angel, although she knew that it put her in a bad light with Joseph.
I suppose there have been millions of people throughout the history of mankind whom God regards as His friends.
The world is not the friend of God. At the recent Democratic presidential convention in America (2012), there was much opposition to including God’s name in the party platform policy. I believe this is the first time in the history of our country that people who sought political power wanted to have nothing to do with God. I think this portends evil for America if it proves to be a trend. The current President seldom refers to God. We are not accustomed to political leaders who give the appearance of ignoring the need for God’s help. Hopefully we will have no more politicians who think we can solve our problems by our own wisdom and strength. I know some believe that, but they are foolish from my point of view.
Notice what the Apostle James said:
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)
Even during the days of the Apostles, the anti-God spirit in the world was evident. People were consumed with sexual lust, the craving for money and power, and every other sin that besets us today. The world has not changed.
This is hard for us to believe in America, probably because our country was founded by religious people. We are under the impression that America is a Christian country. It is true that there are numerous people in America who attend Christian churches. Perhaps the majority of the population to a certain extent revere the Bible. We see that attitude expressed in the courts when people are asked to place their hand on the Bible and swear to tell the truth.
It is my impression that this reverent attitude toward Christ and the Bible is quickly leaving our country. The philosophy of Humanism has influenced American thinking to a significant extent. Humanism looks to man, not to God, to benefit humanity. This is not wise. Only God can bring righteousness, love, joy, and peace to human beings. Man is inherently sinful, so his attempts to benefit himself and others often fail. Sooner or later, the desire of people to glorify themselves becomes apparent.
Even though we are not perfect, we can learn to be a friend of God. Because of the resistance of Satan and fallen angels and demons, every effort we make to please Christ and God is met with resistance — resistance that has been honed to a fine edge of skill over the past centuries. Satan and his hordes are masters of deception. Because of this cunning resistance, it is not possible for us to become a friend of God except through the Lord Jesus.
Jesus, through the shedding of His blood, made an atonement for the sins of the whole world. Therefore any individual who desires to be the friend of God can ask that the atonement be applied to him or her. The blood atonement made by Jesus satisfies God’s requirement that we be without guilt in His sight. Our guilt was placed on Jesus and we now are without condemnation in God’s sight.
But forgiveness is not enough to make us the friend of God. If there was an individual who harmed you, and you forgave him or her, and then he continued to harm you, you would not regard that person as a friend.
It is at this point that current preaching has departed from a correct understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The current teaching is that once we receive the atonement, sin no longer is an issue. It is true that our sins of the past no longer are an issue, but what about the present?
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:25—KJV)
But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. (II Peter 1:9)
Our past sins have been taken care of on the cross of Calvary. But notice:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
The believer has been forgiven of his past sins through the blood of the cross, but how about the sin he is contemplating right now? Is the Christian who continues to behave as he did prior to his “accepting Christ,” yielding continually to his sinful nature, the friend of God? Current teaching says “Yes, because God sees his sinful behavior through Christ.”
“No,” thunder the Scriptures as well as common sense. Yet this abominable viewpoint is promoted every Sunday throughout America. It is no wonder there are delegates of the Democratic party who want God’s name removed from the party’s platform. The churches have been teaching nonsense!
“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:17)
Does the passage above sound to you like God, after we once have been forgiven, does not care how we behave? It certainly does not sound like that to me!
How did we ever get so far off base? I do not know. But we cannot expect God to bless our nation when the Christians are continuing to sin.
Where did this idea come from that God sees us through Christ? To my knowledge, the Bible makes no such statement. It must be deduced from a few passages taken out of context.
Put yourself in God’s place. Do you honestly believe that God desires a kingdom of sinning people? Will God overlook their behavior because they have “accepted Christ”?
God knows that we have a sinful nature. Has God decreed that it is fine for us to yield to our sinful nature as long as we “accept Christ”? Or has God given us spiritual help (grace) so we can overcome the desires of our sinful nature? This is the question, isn’t it?
First of all, has God given us permission to continue in our sinful nature?
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)
Can this passage be construed to mean God is not concerned whether or not we turn away from our sinful nature? I do not see how it could be warped to mean that God does not care how we live. However, the Christian teachers of today are so desperate to prove that our behavior has no bearing on our salvation and that Divine grace is a substitute for our obedience to the commands of Christ and His Apostles, that they might find a way to prove from Galatians 6:7,8 that it does not matter how we behave after we “accept Christ.”
Second, has God taken steps to help us become a new creation or righteous behavior? Indeed He has!
- We have the blood of Christ that is able to reconcile us to God, so we can begin the program of becoming a friend of God.
- We have the born-again experience in which the righteous Christ is conceived and formed within us. As Christ is formed in us, we begin to reflect His personality. In this manner we become a friend of God.
- We have the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides us in confessing our sins and turning away from them. In this manner we become a friend of God.
- The Spirit of God has given gifts and ministries to each member of the Body of Christ. The purpose of these spiritual gifts is to help us, and enable us to help others, attain to the stature of the fullness of Christ. In this way we become a friend of God.
As we faithfully look to Christ for His Presence and will at all times, day and night, and obey Him implicitly, we become increasingly aware that we now are God’s friend and He is our Friend. There absolutely is nothing else as wonderful as this: to have daily fellowship with our Friend — God.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)
(“The Friend of God”, 3302-1, proofed 20211017)