Seminary Viewpoints

Abraham, God’s ‘True-Blue’ Friend

Sam Horn | June 23, 2022
Theology Thursday

Centuries ago Coventry, England, became famous for a blue dye that would not run or fade. The term “true-blue” came to mean unfailing commitment to a belief, position or person.

The book of James focuses on a true-blue, living faith that is produced in our hearts by the Spirit (1:18), developed in testing (1:2-7), displayed in resisting temptation (1:13-18), striving to serve others (1:26-27) and marked by unswerving loyalty to God and to His Word.

James illustrates this faith through a true-blue friend of God: Abraham. And we can understand this friendship’s foundations and blessings more deeply by examining Abraham’s life as detailed across James 2 and three other passages: Hebrews 11, Hebrews 6, and Genesis 12-22.

True-Blue Faith Comes from Certain Knowledge.

Per Hebrews 11:1, true-blue faith is “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.” It’s being convinced that God’s promises are real, in a realm unseen with human eyes, and therefore conforming our current behavior to His will.

This unshakable faith’s source: the Word of a living God in whom we can take refuge because “it is impossible for (Him) to lie” (Heb. 6:13-18). When God first spoke to Abraham, he was a pagan worshipper of Ur’s idols (Josh. 24:2). But in a Spirit-generated, faith response to God’s Word — “Go from your country, and your kindred, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1) — “Abraham went, as the Lord had told him.” (12:4).

True-Blue Faith Is Developed and Confirmed Through Ongoing Obedience.

Abraham’s true-blue faith story is bracketed by two costly faith journeys: from Ur, and 60 years later to sacrifice his son of promise, Isaac.

Abraham’s faith endured over these years through betrayal by his nephew Lot (Gen. 13), his own sin in putting Sarah in moral danger, seeming divine delay in receiving a son, and especially when God asked for this unthinkable sacrifice. Because in six decades following God, Abraham grew in his confidence in God’s faithfulness.

Abraham reckoned that God would be righteous and would keep His Word, even if it meant raising Isaac from the dead. And God reckoned things about Abraham: testing Abraham’s faith, He “found his heart faithful before (Him)” (Neh. 9:8).

As our faith matures through cycles of temptation, failure and repentance, it can enable and energize righteous living — and a faithful heart — in our own dark days and hard ways.

A True-Blue Faith Pleases God.

God’s friends received their commendation and pleased Him by a belief in His future promises that made them willing to give up everything in this realm (Heb. 11:13). Abraham left Ur — a 1,000-year-old, prestigious and wealthy city where, according to tradition, his father was a high-ranking official — not knowing where he was going. He lived in tents as a foreigner (Heb. 11:8-10) because he was looking forward to a city whose designer and maker is God (11:10).

Accordingly, God consistently identified himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When you and I exercise this kind of faith, He is equally unashamed to be known as our God.

The Result and Reward of a unfailing Faith is Friendship and Blessings.

Abraham renounced the friendships of his day — requiring loyalty far above today’s shallow social media “friendships” — including his loyalties to Ur’s gods, king and nobility, and even to his own family, to fully align himself with an unknown God and His promises in an unknown land.

Contrast the alignment of his nephew, Lot, who left Ur with Abraham. Lot heard the same promises, worshipped at the same altars, experienced the same blessings and protections, and witnessed Abraham’s patient waiting for God’s city.

Somewhere along the way, impatient Lot saw a beautiful city filled with all he had left behind in Ur but also with wickedness in God’s sight. Standing next to Abraham on a well-watered plain, Lot made a choice that would cost him his wife, family, wealth, heritage, everything except his soul — all because his faith did not persevere.

Abraham’s reward for lifetime of true-blue faith? Friendship with God (James 2:23) and abundant blessing in three ways (Heb. 6:14):

  • Material prosperity: Genesis 13:2 observes, “Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.”
  • Multiplied posterity: God’s promise that Abraham’s descendants would outnumber the stars in heaven (Gen. 15:5; 22:15; 26:4; Ex. 32:13) was fulfilled in Deuteronomy 1:10, when Moses told Israel, “Behold, you are this day like the stars of heaven in number!”
  • And most important, manifested promise (Heb. 11:15): During Abraham’s lifetime, an army burned Ur, the 1,000-year-old city, to the ground, whereupon he patiently looked for a city that existed in the realm where God dwelt.

1,000 years later, his descendant David ruled over that city, Jerusalem. And one day, a son of David will establish a new, better Jerusalem. There, Abraham and his spiritual descendants will rule with Christ. Because if, like Abraham, we stand in true-blue faith, we too we will receive the reward of being “reckoned as righteous” (Gen. 15:2) as eternal friends of God.

As discussed by Sam Horn on The Steve Noble Show on June 23