The scripture was fulfilled - He believed God; this faith was never inactive, it was accounted to him for righteousness: and being justified by thus believing, his life of obedience showed that he had not received the grace of God in vain. See the notes on Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; (note); Galatians 3:6; (note); where this subject is largely explained.
The friend of God - The highest character ever given to man. As among friends every thing is in common; so God took Abraham into intimate communion with himself, and poured out upon him the choicest of his blessings: for as God can never be in want, because he possesses all things; so Abraham his friend could never be destitute, because God was his friend.
And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith - That is, the fair and full meaning of the language of Scripture was expressed by this act, showing in the highest sense that his faith was genuine; or the declaration that he truly believed, was confirmed or established by this act. His faith was shown to be genuine; and the fair meaning of the declaration that he believed God was carried out in the subsequent act. The passage here referred to occurs in Genesis 15:6. That which it is said Abraham believed, or in which he believed God, was this: “This shall not be thine heir (namely, Eliezer of Damascus), but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels, shall be thine heir.” And again, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them. And he said unto him, So shall thy seed be,” James 2:3-5. The act of confiding in these promises, was that act of which it is said that “he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
The act of offering his son on the altar by which James says this Scripture was fulfilled, occurred some 20 years afterward. That act confirmed or fulfilled the declaration. It showed that his faith was genuine, and that the declaration that he believed in God was true; for what could do more to confirm that, than a readiness to offer his own son at the command of God? It cannot be supposed that James meant to say that Abraham was justified by works without respect to faith, or to deny that the primary round of his justification in the sight of God was faith, for the very passage which he quotes shows that faith was the primary consideration: “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed,” etc. The meaning, therefore, can only be, that this declaration received its fair and full expression when Abraham, by an act of obedience of the most striking character, long after he first exercised that faith by which he was accepted of God, showed that his faith was genuine. It he had not thus obeyed, his faith would have been inoperative and of no value. As it was, his act showed that the declaration of the Scripture that, he “believed” was well founded.
Abraham believed God, and it was imputed - See this passage fully explained in the notes at Romans 4:3.
And he was called the friend of God - In virtue of his strong faith and obedience. See 2 Chronicles 20:7; “Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever?” Isaiah 41:8. “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.” This was a most honorable appellation; but it is one which, in all cases, will result from true faith and obedience.
The class of worshipers who follow the example of Cain includes by far the greater portion of the world; for nearly every false religion has been based on the same principle—that man can depend upon his own efforts for salvation. It is claimed by some that the human race is in need, not of redemption, but of development—that it can refine, elevate, and regenerate itself. As Cain thought to secure the divine favor by an offering that lacked the blood of a sacrifice, so do these expect to exalt humanity to the divine standard, independent of the atonement. The history of Cain shows what must be the results. It shows what man will become apart from Christ. Humanity has no power to regenerate itself. It does not tend upward, toward the divine, but downward, toward the satanic. Christ is our only hope. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” “Neither is there salvation in any other.” Acts 4:12. PP 73.1
True faith, which relies wholly upon Christ, will be manifested by obedience to all the requirements of God. From Adam's day to the present time the great controversy has been concerning obedience to God's law. In all ages there have been those who claimed a right to the favor of God even while they were disregarding some of His commands. But the Scriptures declare that by works is “faith made perfect;” and that, without the works of obedience, faith “is dead.” James 2:22, 17. He that professes to know God, “and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. PP 73.2
When Cain saw that his offering was rejected, he was angry with the Lord and with Abel; he was angry that God did not accept man's substitute in place of the sacrifice divinely ordained, and angry with his brother for choosing to obey God instead of joining in rebellion against Him. Notwithstanding Cain's disregard of the divine command, God did not leave him to himself; but He condescended to reason with the man who had shown himself so unreasonable. And the Lord said unto Cain, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?” Through an angel messenger the divine warning was conveyed: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” The choice lay with Cain himself. If he would trust to the merits of the promised Saviour, and would obey God's requirements, he would enjoy His favor. But should he persist in unbelief and transgression, he would have no ground for complaint because he was rejected by the Lord. PP 73.3Read in context »
The desire for an easy religion that requires no striving, no self-denial, no divorce from the follies of the world, has made the doctrine of faith, and faith only, a popular doctrine; but what saith the word of God? Says the apostle James: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? ... Wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? ...” Mar 232.3Read in context »
The faith that justifies always produces first true repentance, and then good works, which are the fruit of that faith. There is no saving faith that does not produce good fruit. God gave Christ to our world to become the sinner's substitute. The moment true faith in the merits of the costly atoning sacrifice is exercised, claiming Christ as a personal Saviour, that moment the sinner is justified before God, because he is pardoned. OHC 52.5Read in context »
(1 John 2:4.) Faith Manifested by Works of Obedience—God requires at this time just what He required of the holy pair in Eden, perfect obedience to His requirements. His law remains the same in all ages. The great standard of righteousness presented in the Old Testament is not lowered in the New. It is not the work of the gospel to weaken the claims of God's holy law, but to bring men up where they can keep its precepts. 6BC 1073.1
The faith in Christ which saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. “Believe, believe,” is their cry; “only believe in Christ, and you will be saved. It is all you have to do.” While true faith trusts wholly in Christ for salvation, it will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God. Faith is manifested by works. And the apostle John declares, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar” (The Review and Herald, October 5, 1886). 6BC 1073.2
Disconnect the Law and the Gospel?—The enemy has ever labored to disconnect the law and the gospel. They go hand in hand (Manuscript 11, 1893). 6BC 1073.3Read in context »