Topical Message:  “Being A Friend of God”

By

Jim Bomkamp

 

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1.     Besides making Jesus your Lord and your Savior, what type of relationship with God does the Bible tell you that you receive when you believe in Him? 

 

1.1.                     A friend: 

 

James 2:23:  23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.”

 

What I want for us to explore this morning is that friendship relationship that we who are Christians can have with the Lord through Jesus Christ, and I want to show you this morning that the Lord is the very best friend that you could ever have.  God truly revealed Himself to Abraham, His friend, in remarkable ways.

 

2.     Who is your best friend?

 

3.     What is the greatest thing that a friend has ever done for you to show you that he or she is your friend?

 

3.1.                     Jesus says that He is your friend and that His laying down His life for you was the greatest show of love that a friend could ever do for you.

 

3.1.1.  John 15:12-15:  12This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

 

3.2.                     At the end of his ministry to His disciples, Jesus emphasizes to them here that He no longer considers them to be slaves, not a number either, but rather His friends.  And the reason that they can be sure that this is true is because He promised that He revealed to them every word which He had heard from the Father to them. God has revealed to us everything that is helpful or needful for our life through His word.  We need to read and know His word because it contains all that we need in order to live abundant fruitful lives for Him.  We ought to be in His word daily so that we can know the precious promises made to us.

 

4.     Why I chose this topic:

 

A couple of years ago I read the book, “The Shack.”  The book has had great popularity, and many have debated whether or not it is beneficial for people to read the book.  The thing that I was impressed with about the book was that it deals with the topic of fellowship with God, or friendship with God.  The book portrays how our understanding of community and fellowship comes from the Trinity, and the relationship that the personalities of the Trinity have with each other.  The book helps people to understand how that God loves them and desires to have fellowship and friendship with them.  This concept shouldn’t be a big deal to Christians if it weren’t for the fact that the church has not focused upon this aspect of our relationship with the Lord.  The author of The Shack didn’t invent this aspect of the relationship of God with the believer, we see it reflected in Jesus’ relationship with His Father all through the gospels, and, it is even intimated in the Old Testament.

 

5.     The friendship that we as believers in Christ can have with the Lord can be seen in the scriptures in several aspects, for instance:

 

5.1.                     The covenants that God has made are based upon or intimate such friendship and fellowship:

 

5.1.1.  Israel is called the wife of God in Hos. 1-3, Jer. 2:2, and Ezek. 16.

 

5.1.2.  The Lord intimates that He has “knownIsrael, and Israel is exhorted to “know” the Lord.  Plus, the Lord says that He loves Israel in Deut. 7:7, and Israel is to be His people in Exod. 19:5.

 

5.1.3.  Abraham is called the friend of God, and the angels of the Lord came to him and told him of God’s plans (for the destruction of Sodom).

 

5.1.4.  Moses talked with the Lord face to face, and the Lord revealed His glory to him in the cleft of the rock.

 

5.1.5.  Enoch is said to have walked with God in Gen. 5:24.

 

5.1.6.  Jesus called Lazarus His friend in John 11:11.

 

5.2.                     In Galatians 3:6-9, we recognize that just like Abraham we can be a friend of God by our faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior:  6 Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”

 

5.3.                     In his commentary, “Be Skillful,” Warren Wiersbe has written:

 

“Abraham was the friend of God because he walked by faith and “looked for a city . . . whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). Lot became a friend of the world because he walked by sight and moved toward the wicked city of Sodom (Gen. 13:10, 12). Everybody has some vision before them that helps to determine their values, actions, and plans. We would all be wise to imitate David who said, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (Ps. 101:3), and the writer of Psalm 119 who prayed, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things” (v. 37, NIV). If you are “looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2) as you walk the path of life, then keep that posture of faith. If you look back (Luke 9:62) or around (Matt. 14:30), you may go on a detour.”

 

5.4.                     Spurgeon once preached about how those who are seekers seek to have a friendship with God, and they can have that through Christ:

 

“What the seeker longs for is that he may so approach the Lord as to feel himself a friend of God, and know that divine love is most surely all his own. Oh, the sweetness of knowing that there is nothing between God and you but amity and love, that all the sad past is forgiven and even blotted out of the Lord’s remembrance, and that now you may speak to him without fear, and trust in him without dread. Atonement has removed his righteous wrath and settled fast his boundless love. Now you may come and lie in his bosom, for it is your Father’s bosom and hide even under the dark shadow of his wing, for it is your Father’s wing, and it will cover you from all harm even as a hen covereth her chickens. It is the prelude of heaven to feel that —

“The God that rules on high,
And thunders when he please,
That rides upon the stormy sky,
And manages the seas,
This awful God is ours.”

All his power is for our protection, all his wisdom for our direction, all his tenderness for our consolation, all his truth for our encouragement, all his grandeur for our ennobling, all the infinity of his nature for our eternal glorification. He wills that we should be partakers of the divine nature, and dwellers in the divine blessedness. This is very sweet, and this is what the soul that seeks God is following after. It aspires to walk with God, and to dwell with God, it longs to abide in him, to be for ever his beloved, to be accepted in Christ Jesus, and to become daily more and more conformed to the divine image. To be cleansed from everything which is alien to the design and the nature of God, and to be perfectly at one with God is our grand ambition.”

 

6.     Twelve characteristics of a true friend:

 

6.1.                     A true friend can love you even more than family does.

 

6.1.1.  How many of you think that your family loves you more than anyone else, and that they will look out for you more than anyone else will?

 

6.1.1.1.      The Bible tells us that the Lord sticks by us, His children, even closer than a brother:  Proverbs 18:24:  24 A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

 

6.1.1.2.      The Lord loves you even more than your family.

 

6.2.                     A true friend loves at all times.

 

6.2.1.  Proverbs 17:17:  17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.”

 

6.3.                     A true friend will always keep your secrets.

 

6.3.1.  You can trust God with all of your secrets because He is your very best friend.

 

6.4.                     A true friend will never lie to you.

 

6.4.1.  The Bible tells us that God “cannot tell a lie” (Titus 1:2).

 

6.5.                     A true friend will never spread lies about you.

 

6.6.                     A true friend is sensitive to your needs and feelings.

 

6.6.1.  Proverbs 27:14:   14 He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be reckoned a curse to him.”  This would be to do something like wake you up with a big trumpet blast.  We may think this is funny until it happens to us.

 

6.7.                     A true friend understands you.

 

6.8.                     A true friend prays for you.

 

6.8.1.  In the book of Hebrews it says that Jesus “ever lives to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25).

 

6.9.                     A true friend forgives us when we have wronged him.

 

6.9.1.  The New Testament tells us that whenever we confess our sins that God is faithful and righteous to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

 

6.10.                A true friend is there for us when everyone else has left us, he will never leave us.

 

6.10.1.                     Jesus says to us, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

 

6.11.                A true friend will counsel and encourage you.

 

6.11.1.                     In the gospel of John, Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the “comforter,” and in that role He comforts and encourages us who are His disciples, in all that we do.

 

6.11.2.                     The word for a “friend” that the North American Indians had means literally, “one-who-carries-my-sorrows-on-his-back.”

 

6.11.3.                     I believe in my own walk that there was a time when my walk grew kind of stale with the Lord, and the reason was that I was only thinking of Him as being high and exalted ruling upon His throne, and I wasn’t responding to Him also as being my friend.  At that time I often wouldn’t pray as I should because I felt like God was so high and exalted and holy, and I was sinful, that I thought He couldn’t understand or relate.  When I began to understand more about the Lord being my friend, my relationship with Him began to blossom.  Today, I talk with the Lord everywhere I go and discuss all that happens to me, just like I would if my best friend were right there next to me.

 

6.12.                A true friend will always do what is best for you.

 

6.12.1.                     When you love someone as a friend, sometimes you have to do things for them that they may not like or appreciate at the time, just as it says in Proverbs 27:5-6:  5 Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

 

7.     The closest relationship we can have with Jesus is that of a friend.  Oswald Chambers has written:  Have I been so long with you, and yet hast thou not known Me? John 14:9.  These words are not spoken as a rebuke, nor even with surprise; Jesus is leading Philip on. The last One with whom we get intimate is Jesus. Before Pentecost the disciples knew Jesus as the One Who gave them power to conquer demons and to bring about a revival (see Luke 10:18-20). It was a wonderful intimacy, but there was a much closer intimacy to come—“I have called you friends.” Friendship is rare on earth. It means identity in thought and heart and spirit. The whole discipline of life is to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We receive His blessings and know His word, but do we know Him?

 

8.     There is a passage that I would now like us to consider, it occurred after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead: 

 


John 21:1-17:   1
After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. 9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” 11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead. 15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

 

8.1.1.  The night before Jesus was crucified at the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him.  Peter informed Jesus that though all else would fall away that he would never fall away (Mark 14:29).  Jesus went on to tell Peter prophetically that before the night was over (and the cock crowed) that he would deny Jesus three times (Mark 14:30).  Peter then corrected Jesus and told him that he would never deny Him.  But as we know, when Jesus was arrested Peter in fact did deny knowing Jesus three times as he and John were waiting outside the room where Jesus was being tried (Mark 14:66-72).  Peter went outside and wept bitterly when he heard the cock crow.  This failure on Peter’s part had a profound negative effect upon him.  Peter surely thought that his calling by Jesus would never be completed and that he was now forever going to be a big zero in God’s eyes.  This story as recorded by John is Jesus’ restoration of Peter after his big failure, and instead of Peter being discarded by Jesus now, he was made to be the leader over the disciples.

 

8.1.2.  As Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him, and then he tells him to tend His sheep.

 

8.1.3.  This is one section of scripture where if you do not study the original Greek language, you miss out on a lot of what is being revealed.  In the Greek language, there are different words that are translated as “love”:

 

8.1.3.1.      Eros.

 

8.1.3.1.1.           This is the word from which we get our word “erotic,” and it refers to an erotic kind of love.

 

8.1.3.2.      Agape.

 

8.1.3.2.1.           This is the word that is always used when the kind of love that God has for us is used.  It is a love that is based upon a choice to love, and it is unconditional love for the one who is loved.

 

8.1.3.3.      Phileo.

 

8.1.3.3.1.           This is the word that is used for deep friendship love.

 

8.1.4.  Here twice, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you agape Me?”  Peter’s response is that yes he does “Phileo” Jesus.  I used to think that the reason Peter used this word ‘phileo’ about his love for Jesus was that he couldn’t bring himself to admit that he had that greatest type of love (agape) for Jesus, and thus couldn’t use that word that describes God’s love.  But, I do not believe this anymore.  I now believe that Peter was trying to indicate that he had an even greater type of love for Jesus than “agape” would describe, one indicated by “phileo,” a love that is the highest and involves an “identity in thought and heart and spirit” (As Oswald Chambers indicates).  But, there is a complete inconsistency between “phileo” love and Peter’s three denials of Jesus.  Could Peter have loved Jesus with “phileo” love and also denied Him?

 

8.1.5.  That third time that Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” Jesus used the word, “phileo.”  Jesus was busting Peter because of the motivations of his heart.  Peter needed to be made aware of where his heart really was at, what was really at the root of why he had denied Jesus.  Peter was very grieved when Jesus asked him if he really did “phileo” Jesus, and then he told Jesus that He knew all things and He knew then that he did “phileo” Him.  Jesus then tells Peter that if he really did “phileo” Him, then he was to tend Jesus’ sheep.  Love confessed without the actions to back it up is just lip service, and not true love.  Jesus tells Peter to show that love by obeying His command to him.  What would you answer Jesus if he asked you today if you “phileo” Him?  Could you point to your actions and life and demonstrate that you in fact do “phileo” Jesus?

 

8.1.6.  A friend of this world is in rebellion against God is an enemy of God:  James 4:4:  4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

 

8.1.7.  When I first read the gospels and noted that Jesus told His disciples just as He was preparing to leave the earth, that He now considered them to be friends.  I would have expected Jesus to initially have told His disciples that they were friends, and then after He had spent a long time with them, to tell them that He now loved them with “agape” love.  Yet, this is not the way that it happened.  Truly, this indicates that friendship love of the Lord is indeed the greatest love that we can have.

 

8.1.8.  I would encourage you who are born again Christians, and thus God’s children, to recognize that there is nothing you could do to cause the Lord to love you any more than He already loves you.  Likewise, there is nothing that you could ever do to cause Him to love any less than He loves you right now.  This is how great of a friend the Lord is to you.  

 

9.     The Bible Exposition Commentary discusses how friendship with God is expressed:

 

“So, our friendship with Christ involves love and obedience. But it also involves knowledge: He “lets us in on” His plans. Indeed, He is our Master (John 13:13, 16), but He does not treat us as servants. He treats us as friends, if we do what He commands. Abraham was God’s friend because he obeyed God (Gen. 18:19). If we have friendship with the world, we then experience enmity with God (James 4:1–4). Lot in Sodom was not called God’s friend, even though Lot was a saved man (2 Peter 2:7). God told Abraham what He planned to do to the cities of the plain, and Abraham was able to intercede for Lot and his family.

 

It is interesting to note that, in John’s Gospel, it was the servants who knew what was going on! The servants at the wedding feast in Cana knew where the wine came from (John 2:9), and the nobleman’s servants knew when the son was healed (John 4:51–53).

 

One of the greatest privileges we have as His friends is that of learning to know God better and “getting in on” God’s secrets. I can never forget the impact on my own heart when I heard Dr. Oswald Sanders say to the Back to the Bible staff, “Each of us is as close to God as we choose to be.” We are His friends, and we ought to be near the throne, listening to His Word, enjoying His intimacy, and obeying His commandments.”

 

10.            When we realize how much God loves us, and that His love for us is even like the love of a best friend, then we in turn can love Him in return, and everything that we do for the Lord we can do out of love, just as this poem states:

 

Love Makes Obedience

 

Love makes obedience a thing of joy!

To do the will of one we like to please

Is never hardship, though it tax our strength;

Each privilege of service love will seize!

Love makes us loyal, glad to do or go,

And eager to defend a name or cause;

Love takes the drudgery from common work,

And asks no rich reward or great applause.

Love gives us satisfaction in our task,

And wealth in learning lessons of the heart;

Love sheds a light of glory on our toil

And makes us humbly glad to have a part.

Love makes us choose to do the will of God,

To run His errands and proclaim His truth;

It gives our hearts an eager, lilting song;

Our feet are shod with tireless wings of youth!

 

11.            CONCLUSIONS:

 

11.1.                Do you relate to the Lord as your closest friend, one who is with you wherever you go and whatever you may do?  Do you talk with Him?  Do you consult Him?  Do you share all of your experiences with Him?

 

11.2.                We know how great of a friend the Lord is to you, how good of a friend are you to Him?

 

11.2.1.                     Do you show how good a friend Jesus is to you by always talking to Him throughout your day, always recognizing that He is with you wherever you may go?

 

11.2.2.                     ­Jesus said that our obedience to Him will determine what kind of a friend we are to Him:  You are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

 

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