This week in the Bible Study we were told who the anointed are, and who the Great Crowd is, and that the other sheep are God’s friends. I say “told”, because to say “taught” would imply that we were given some proof, a scriptural foundation upon which to build our understanding. Alas, since there is no scriptural foundation possible, since…well…none exists, all the Governing Body can do is to tell us yet again what we must believe. However, the appearance of scriptural instruction is important so that we don’t think that this is strictly a doctrine of human origin. Therefore, mingled in with the instruction, we do find a smattering of misapplied scriptures. It distresses me to see how easily we absorb these assertions with nary an eyebrow raised nor a question proffered. We simply accept what comes down the pike from “God’s appointed channel”.
If you think I’m going overboard, consider but one example. Paragraph 16 in chapter 14 of the Jeremiah book states: “Hence, even now these gain a certain righteous standing before God. They are being declared righteous as Jehovah’s friends. (Rom. 4:2, 3; Jas. 2:23)”
“A certain righteous standing”??? Not the righteous standing conferred upon the tiny minority of anointed ones, No; but still, some kind of righteous standing, a “certain kind”. And what is that to be? Not sonship, No sir! Not the inheritance of children. These ones cannot call God their Father, but they can call him their friend…like Abraham was. That’s pretty good, isn’t it? Nothing to scoff at, no sirree!
This baldfaced assertion, that the great crowd are being declared righteous as Jehovah’s friends, is not found in Scripture–not even hinted at in Scripture. If it were, don’t you think we’d have those texts plastered all over the article? But what about the two scriptures referenced in parentheses? (Rom. 4:2, 3; Jas. 2:23) Isn’t that proof? We are meant to think so. We are meant to read them and see that Abraham was God’s friend and so if he could be, so could we. But is that proof that we are? Is that the point that Paul is making? Why wasn’t Abraham called God’s son? Few men were more esteemed by God. His faith was outstanding. He is one of those mentioned specifically in Hebrews chapter 11. So again, why wasn’t he called God’s son?
Simply put, Araham wasn’t a Christian. He died centuries before Christ opened the way for men to be called, not friends, but sons of God. Is any imperfect man called God’s son in the Hebrew Scriptures? NO! Why not? Because it wasn’t possible until Jesus died and opened the way for the “glorious freedom of the children of God”.
If someone cares to take the time to read those two references, it is plainly evident that Paul and James are both making similar points about faith vs. works. As a result of his faith, not his works, Abraham was called God’s friend. If he had been living in the first century, he would not have been called God’s friend. He would have been called God’s son, not due to works, but due to faith. Both writers are writing to anointed Christians who already knew they were God’s children. Being God’s friend would be a step down for them. Is there something in the two passages to indicate to first century Christians that a new class, a “friends of God” class of Christian would appear in the distant future? It would simply be impossible to twist these scriptures far enough to make that plausible. In fact, to say that these verses are being misapplied is to abuse the term “misapplied”.
These are the only instances in the Christian Scriptures of someone being called God’s friend and they apply to Abraham with no allusion that the term would be extended to anyone in the Christian Congregation. Yet in thousands of congregations around the world will a hand be raised to object? No, but there must be many–a minority perhaps–but still, many, who are ‘sighing and groaning over the things being done in Jerusalem.’