Jas 2:21-23 “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? 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.”
Abraham believed God. What a simple and yet powerful statement. Abraham (Abram) believed that the True and Living God told him to leave everything he had ever known and go into an unknown land (Gen 12:1). How do we know that Abraham had faith in God? We know this because he left everything and went into the land that God showed him. We are sure of Abraham’s faith because of Abraham’s actions.
Even after displaying great faith, we can sometimes have moments of doubt. When God told Abraham (who was 100 years old at that time) that He was going to give him a son by Sarah, Abraham laughed (Gen 17:17). He questioned within himself how he and Sarah (who was 90 years old) could possibly have a son. God proved the power of His truth to Abraham with the birth of Isaac.
Resting in the proof of God’s faithfulness, Abraham did not flinch when God required of him an unimaginably hard thing. God told Abraham to take Isaac up into a certain mountain that He would show him and offer Isaac up as a sacrifice to God (Gen 22:2). Abraham, having confidence (faith) in both God’s justice and God’s mercy, told his servants to wait at the foot of the mountains. He told them that he and Isaac were going up into the mountain to worship God and that they would both return after they had worshipped (Gen 22:5).
While all of things give an indication of Abraham’s faith, none of these things up to this point justified Abraham concerning God’s command to offer up Isaac. Being faithful to God requires that we do the specific things that He commands us. In this case, the command was to offer up Isaac. While Abraham’s belief in God can be inferred from his actions up to this point, Abraham’s faith was proved when he laid Isaac on the altar and drew back the knife to strike him. In obedient action to the specific command of God, Abraham’s faith was demonstrated to be complete (perfect).
Strong’s defines the phrase rendered “wrought with” in verse 22 to mean “to be a fellow worker, that is, co-operate.” Faith and works are fellow laborers before God. They work in cooperation (to act jointly to promote the same objective) to show forth confidence in the promises of God. Faith is not complete (whole) without works.
Abraham’s belief (faith and action) was accounted unto him for righteousness. This would not have been the case if Abraham had reasoned within himself (as we often do) “I know God can enable me to do these things. I will tell everyone that I know God can enable me to do these things. There is no need for me to actually do them.” We must act on the things that God, through the moving of the Holy Spirit, requires of us, if we would be called (recognized) as a friend of God.
May we act obediently to the direction of His command and know the joy of being of a friend of God!