It is said in the Epistle of James chapter 2 v. 23 of the patriarch Abraham:
“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.”
The context of this statement in James Epistle is regarding the subject of faith and works. The supreme demonstration of faith and works on the part of Abraham was for him to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac the child of promise at the request of God as recorded in Genesis 22.
In faith Abraham took Isaac as instructed by God and was prepared to sacrifice him fully believing that his son Isaac, the son of promise, would be resurrected by God in order to continue the family line. Isaac’s life was spared at the last moment and a ram was supplied by God as an offering in his place. As a result of Abraham’s outstanding demonstration of faith God further blessed him with promises that Abraham’s seed or offspring would number as the stars in heaven and the sand upon the seashore. Read Gen. 22 vs. 15-18.
Abraham is one of many fine examples of faith and works. A list of such Bible characters can be found in the letter to the Hebrews chapter 11 that were pleasing to God. We see in 11th chapter of Hebrews examples of others who are commended by faith and works:
Verse 4 Abel by faith offered a more acceptable sacrifice.
Verse 7 Noah by faith built an ark and saved him and his family.
Others such as Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samson and David are a few more of many mentioned in chapter 11. In considering the example of faith and works as demonstrated by Abraham it is not realistic to consider that we would be asked by God to offer one of our offspring as a sacrifice but in a modern context how can we demonstrate a depth of faith and works which will earn the respect and pleasure of God?
A series of verses in Paul’s letter to the Galations chapter 3 verse 24 to 29 speaks about “justification by faith.” The Webster dictionary defines “justification” as “the act of justifying; vindication or defense; the act of acceptance of a man by God as justified by the merits of Jesus Christ.”
This series of verses continues by associating believers with Jesus Christ and the promises given to faithful Abraham so many centuries ago through the act of baptism by full immersion, as Jesus was baptized. Verse 26 to 29 “For we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
God’s pleasure in His son Jesus is very clearly expressed in the gospel of Matthew chapter 3 verses 16,17: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
We know that Jesus led a perfect, sinless life and is a true example of whom we should strive to follow. We cannot hope to obtain a sinless life as Jesus did but we instead must strive to the best of our abilities to follow his example in our own lives.
Jesus speaks to the faithful servants as friends in Luke 15 verses 14,15.
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you.”
Jesus speaks of the reward of his faithful servants/friends in Matthew 25 verse 21 “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
The “joy of the lord” is the consummation of God’s purpose with establishing of his kingdom on earth with the return of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.