Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, Isaac. This was the child who was promised by God to Abraham when he was 99 years old. How could this be? He was to be father of many nations, and God was asking him to kill Isaac. This is an incredible test by God – one I don’t know if I could pass. But Abraham trusted God and was willing to obey.
As he raised his knife to kill his son, the LORD cried out from heaven to stop. Abraham had shown that he feared God. Is this when he was saved? Was this work the cause of his justification? Many who teach “Lordship Salvation” teach that faith must be evidenced by works or it is not true faith.
Of course Abraham was already saved. In Genesis 15:6, it says, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” This was long before Isaac was born. “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:2-3) Abraham’s works didn’t save him; his faith did.
So what does James mean when it says Abraham was justified by works? His willingness to offer Isaac didn’t justify him before God; it justified him before men. People saw that Abraham really believed God. They saw the reality of God in his life, and that he was willing to obey, even if it meant sacrificing his son.
Our salvation is guaranteed when we trust in Christ’s death on the cross as payment for our sin. God sees our faith and gives us His righteousness. Others can’t see our faith unless it is lived out. Today, show the world you mean what you say you believe.
Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder